Gwen Jones, a young Welsh writer, is desperate to save the family farmhouse from being sold from under her critically ill mother and herself.
When she lands a lucrative three-book deal with an eminent publisher, she thinks her problems are all over. However, Gwen’s need to be near her sick mother means she’s unable to travel to London to work with her devilishly desirable editor, John Thatcher, and he must come and stay with her in Wales.
Handsome and eminently capable, cosmopolitan John is used to getting his own way and has plans for the future which certainly don’t include being distracted by pretty Welsh girls; nevertheless when he journeys into the country to work with Gwen it’s not long before he finds himself falling in love with her, as well as the house she’sso anxious to save.
But is John capable of loving anyone as much as his job?
And when he has to decide between his goals and Gwen, which will he chose?
Firstly, I’d like to thank Emma Bennet for providing me with a lovely signed paperback review copy of her book. I will admit straight up that I’m not a huge fan of romance. Books, films, valentines day – It all makes me a bit squeamish but I’m all for trying new books that I wouldn’t usually read so I decided to give it a go. The Green Hills of Home is about a young writer called Gwen who luckily enough lands herself a publishing contract with Black Horse Publishing. The money from this deal is crucial as she needs it to save the farmhouse she, and many generations of her family before her, have lived in. With her mother ill in hospital, she is unable to travel to London every day to work with her editor so her editor comes to stay in her house to work on her book. Of course her editor, John Thatcher, is extremely handsome, passionate and a true gentleman. He is also completely falling for Gwen. After a rocky start, the pair find common ground and start working quite well together but can John really risk his job that he strives for every day to be with someone he works with? Can Gwen start something up with her editor whilst the future of her beloved house is so rocky and her mother is ill in hospital? Whilst they battle obstacles together and as individuals, will Gwen’s devotion as a daughter over-run her desire to be with John? Is John capable of loving anyone as much as he loves his job? The story covers duty and devotion, compassion and loyalty and above all – the power of love.
The author was good at putting across how awkward the two main characters felt towards each other at the beginning and how slowly over time they got more and more comfortable with each other. I got to about 3/4 of the way through and did wonder when anything romantic was going to happen between them but then things started to fall into place. The author was very good at building up the tension and suspense in their relationship. The story was quite straight-forward but I loved that Emma wasn’t afraid to throw in some obstacles for the characters to shake things up a bit and it was interesting and somewhat surprising to see how they reacted. As silly as this may sound, I liked that Gwen’s dog, Oscar, had quite an important role in the story. Oscar is what seemed to open John up and allow his emotions that he’d previously tried hard to hide shine through and I though that was a really nice touch to the story. John came across very cold at the beginning of the book and I’ll admit – I didn’t like him very much! He wasn’t sensitive to Gwen’s situation and thought only of himself. I got to about chapter 4 and still knew very little about him other than the fact he is a workaholic and although originally I thought that was quite a negative thing by the end of the book I thought it worked quite well because about halfway through John definitely finds his feet in Gwen’s world and you really begin to see another side of him. It also showed how quickly he was affected by Gwen and her life. I would however have liked him to be a more prominent figure in the earlier chapters and if anything be even ruder and colder than he really was!
One thing I noticed was the characters inconsistency towards each other. I know as individuals they are both confused about their feelings towards one another but I found one sentence in which Gwen was saying how rude John was and then the sentence immediately after she was sad that he was leaving the following day. I think the idea that their emotions are very conflicting is good but I feel it could have been put across a bit more strategically. I felt this book was a good length and a well-rounded story. It was well-written but not exceptionally-written and what I mean by that is that I could easily tell it was the authors first novel. A very enjoyable, established and well thought-out first novel but in my opinion, if there was more emphasis on helping the reader live the story rather than just reading it I think it would have been a slight improvement.
This was a sweet, heart-warming and very safe debut novel. I personally would have liked a bit more drama – but that’s just me and obviously not what the author was going for. It was very readable – I finished it in only 2 days – and although I said I don’t really enjoy romance I actually couldn’t put this book down. The romance side of things wasn’t too over-whelming – which was what I was worried about. Instead it was well proportionated in comparison to other aspects of the book and I felt there was a nice balance between Gwen’s feelings for John and her other duties, particularly to her mother. This was a lovely little story that showed the difference in people and their own little worlds, the importance of family and making compromises for those you love.
I’d give this book 4 cupcakes
1. Hi Emma, thanks for answering some questions. Firstly, can you tell us what The Green Hills of Home is about?
‘The Green Hills of Home’ is a heart-warming love story that tells the tale of Gwen Jones, an attractive, compassionate young Welsh writer desperate to save the family farmhouse from being sold from under her critically ill mother and herself. Gwen lands a lucrative three-book deal with an eminent publisher and thinks her problems are all over, but her need to be near her sick mother means she’s unable to travel to London to work with her devilishly desirable editor, John Thatcher, and he must come and stay with her in Wales. Handsome and eminently capable, cosmopolitan John is used to getting his own way and has plans for the future which certainly don’t include being distracted by pretty Welsh girls; nevertheless when he journeys into the country to work with Gwen it’s not long before he finds himself falling in love with her, as well as the house she’s so anxious to buy. But is John capable of loving anyone as much as his job? And when he has to decide between his goals and Gwen, which will he chose?
2. What was your inspiration for the story?
I live in a market town in the Brecon Beacons – it’s an absolutely beautiful part of the World. I’ve only been here a few years, but can’t imagine ever leaving, so I tried to imagine what it would be like for someone who’s lived amongst this beauty all their lives, but is now being forced to leave. Before long I had my heroine, Gwen, and her beloved Welsh farmhouse firmly in my head!
3. Have you always wanted to be an author/writer?
I think I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until my eldest son was born that I began writing ‘properly’. Now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
4. How was this book published? Was it a difficult journey to getting published?
‘The Green Hills of Home’ was published using Amazon’s kindle and Createspace services. It was such fun designing the cover and, even if formatting the novel was a bit of a pain, it was amazing to be in charge of every stage in the publishing process.
5. If The Green Hills of Home was made into a movie, who would play the lead roles?
I think Emily Blunt would make a great Gwen, if she could master a Welsh accent, and could I have Christian Bale as John?
6. What is your top tip for dealing with criticism?
Constructive criticism is not just useful, but essential: it’s all too easy to miss flaws in your own work, so how else is your writing going to improve without some form of outside criticism?
On the other hand though, criticism should not be about being unkind. I think every author has had that moment when they’ve received either a horribly unfair review, or a low rating for their book with no explanation. In this case, my top tip is a large glass of something alcoholic!
7. Which 4 famous people would you invite to your dream dinner party? (Dead or alive)
Hmmm…… Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton would be pretty entertaining. Then I think I’d add Jane Austen, who’d make witty comments about Liz and Rich, and maybe Matthew McConaughey, just because…..
8. Which piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?
Just to read and write as much, and as widely, as possible. I really believe that’s now you find your ‘voice’ and hone your skills as an author.
9. Like I mentioned in my review, the dog, Oscar, plays quite an important part. Are you a dog owner and is that why you’re so aware of how important Oscar is to Gwen?
We don’t have a dog at the moment, just cats, guinea pigs and stick insects, but my children are badgering us to get one soon! I had a dog growing up – they really do become a part of the family and can be amazing empathetic, which is what made Oscar an ideal companion for Gwen!
10. When is your next book, ‘The Spaniard’s Secret Daughter’ officially out and are you able to tell us anything about it?
There’s no definite release date as yet, but it should be in the next few months.
‘The Spaniard’s Secret Daughter’ is about a woman called Iris, who discovers she’s pregnant by her Spanish boss, Sergio. Believing that Sergio cheated on her, she disappears without telling him about the baby. Three years on, and a chance encounter means Sergio discovers he has a little girl called Paola. Determined to be a proper father to his daughter, Sergio demands to be allowed to see her, and ends up insisting Iris and Paola come with him to Barcelona on an extended business trip. Despite her fears that Sergio will try to take custody of their child, Iris just can’t help it when all her old feelings come bubbling to the surface, but can she ever get over Sergio cheating, and can Sergio forgive her for keeping his child a secret from him?
Emma grew up and lived in London, before falling in love and moving to Wales to be with her own hero. Emma now lives with her husband, children, and many animals in a small Welsh market town.The beautiful landscape around her home gave her the inspiration for
Her second novel, ‘The Spaniard’s Secret Daughter’, will be available late 2013. Emma likes (in no particular order): cake, books, Cary Grant films, prosecco, chocolate, guinea pigs, knitting, quilting and happily ever afters!
You can find Emma on the following links