Out in the Country (by Kate Hewitt)

I had not previously come across Kate Hewitt, but apparently she's quite a prolific writer of contemporary romance books. This novella was on special offer a few months ago, free for the Kindle, so as it sounded like my kind of book, I downloaded it.

'Out in the Country' is set in the US, and starts well, in my view. Recently widowed, middle-aged Lynne is quite excited about plans to start afresh; she is soon to return to her roots in Scotland, working in a hotel with her long-standing friend Jess. She has said her goodbyes... when disaster strikes. Jess is distraught, and the whole project is cancelled.

Meanwhile, Lynne's daughter Molly, a newly-qualified teacher, starts teaching at a difficult secondary school in the city. She finds it much tougher than she expected, and is not helped by her long-term boyfriend being far away, and bound up in his graduate studies. Luke, another teacher, takes her under his wing, and she finds him surprisingly attractive.

When Lynne and Molly go on a visit, out in the countryside to see her retired in-laws, they have an unexpected but exciting suggestion for Lynne's future...

The writing is good, without the annoying typos or formatting problems that so often beset Kindle books. Having said that, there were many places where we - the readers - were told what people were thinking, or given a summary of what happened, rather than seeing the scenes and getting to know people better. Somehow it felt as if the book were rather rushed through, and would have been more appropriate as a full-length novel.

There was a lot of potential for more subplots, but they didn't materialise; instead the career-based threads rather petered out, and the story turned into mild romances for Lynne, Jess and Molly, all of whom meet new people, and all of whom still have feelings for their former boyfriend or husband. It was a bit complicated remembering who was whom, at times, and it rather weakened the rest of the story having so many growing relationships, all happening neatly at the same time, all leading to confused women who weren't entirely sure which path to follow.

Still, I thought this short book was pleasant enough, with a satisfactory if predictable ending. The romances are very low-key, and the writing is, to my relief, entirely family-friendly. The characters are a bit flat, but then that's to be expected in such a short book. Overall, it made undemanding breakfast-time reading. I doubt if I'll read it again, but I may look out for more by this author.

Review by Sue F copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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