Monday, October 25, 2021

Manview: Daughter of the Hunter Valley by Paula J Beavan

Welcome to another Manview. For those of you who are new to Manviews,these are reviews of romance novels specifically from a man's perspective, the reader today is my very own Steve. You can find previous Manviews here.

Daughter of the Hunter Valley by Paula J Beavan

Daughter of the Hunter Valley by Paula J Beavan
Purchase link:

My rating: star star star star half

Heat rating: Flame 

Daughter of the Hunter Valley by Paula J Beavan blurb

ManviewIn one or two sentences can you sum up your overall impression of this book and how you feel about it?
I loved the characters, location and time period. The period of Australian history is fascinating. The interactions between British adventurers, relocated convicts, and the Aboriginal people made for fascinating reading. As did the interactions between the female characters and the role they chose to play after being transplanted to the Australian bush in the 1830s.

What did you think of Maddy and Daniel?
I liked both a lot. They were highly principled and knew what they wanted. While tempted by conflicting loyalties to do the right thing, both recognized and dealt with their challenges to get the right outcomes, which of course was each other, and a life at Shelby, the family estate they both built and loved..

Did you find the romance between Maddy and Daniel convincing?
Yes. It was clear they valued the character of each other and were drawn together physically, emotionally, and by a common duty to do right for the other and those around them. Their love was deep, built on how they interacted during the first few days of knowing each other. If I counted correctly, Maddy and Daniel only kissed twice in the book, which shows you can make romance work without a lot of sex!

Was there anything in the story that really stood out for you?
That women often did more in the wilderness than they were given credit for and played roles far beyond what was expected in many cases. Some who migrated from England to Australia and then further moved into the bush from Sydney were incredible in terms of their contributions and resilience. And other, just could not adapt and needed to return home. … and the research that went into it. I live in the area where the novel was set, but 190 years later! Two things stood out for me in novel, The first one was that the convicts sent to Australia from England were, for the most part, good people. Their crimes committed in England were minor. So by selecting the right convicts to work the farm and be personal maids or cooks, often resulted in close family among those who had and those who were serving. I was glad to witness and understand the ways that ‘criminals’ sent to Australia could earn their freedom. Many of them deserved the opportunity to earn their freedom.

I was also fascinated by how opulent estates were created from the labor and land; through farming, cutting trees and masonry work with sandstone blocks to create homes, barns, and a way to not only survive, but thrive. Outside of the books context, I also admired the research that Ms. Beavan put into the book. I live in the area and now plan to explore what I learned about the settings, the large estates, and the travel along the Hunter River.

How did you enjoy the suspense that was built around the story?
I thought it was good. It heightened and resolved nicely throughout. Maddy, Daniel and others had their challenges and overcame them. However, I would have liked more suspense. The novel had a number of interesting secondary characters who had fascinating backgrounds and profiles. I thought they could have been used to create some larger challenges for Maddy to work through. I was hoping for more ‘bad’ out of a couple of the characters to test Maddy. She possessed great skills, mental and emotional strength, and resilience to take on any threat or problem thrown in her direction. I kept wanting her to take on bigger, even impossible challenges created by a few of the secondary characters. Had that occurred, I would have rated the book a 5-star instead of 4.5-star.

How did the character, Ella, play into the plot?
Ella created a perfect love triangle and, in my mind, made the story what is was. She was the complete opposite of Maddy and both were laying claim, or at least hoping Daniel would chose them over the other. And all three were conscious of the needs of each other, even though they conflicted with their own goals and desires. The interaction between Daniel, Maddy and Ella provided so many twists and nuance of relationships that swirled around not just the three of them, but also Daniel’s sister, who happened to be Ella’s best friend, his sister’s husband, and the neighboring family on the estate next to Shelby. The level of suspense as the relationship between the three of them played out was what really made the book great.

Was it the women or the men that really drove the story?
I think the women more so than the men made the story. Witnessing the interaction between the women in the area and of different families and background and how they, in most cases, worked together was a highlight. This was historical female fiction at its best.

Will you be reading anything else by Paula Beavan?
Definitely. I hear there is a second book in the works and some cross-over in characters, even though it is not a sequel. I am looking forward to having Ms. Beavan take me on another journey through our local settings and how it existed almost 200 years ago.

What's your next read?

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About the author

Paula Beavan

Paula J Beavan: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon

About the reviewer

Steve Shipley

Steve Shipley: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Amazon

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  1. Great review Steve, I too really enjoyed this one, huge congrats to Paula on a wonderful debut :)

    Have Fun


    1. It's a lovely book. I enjoyed the bits I read over Steve's shoulder.