My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So, apart from my mardy comments about dry stone walls and tea versus supper, and the arctic type snowpocalypse which seemed to have descended on Imre’s farm like a second ice age, this book is a gorgeous exploration of a relationship.
Cole McCade has such a beautiful command of language when it comes to evoking emotions and feelings, and this book is no different.
While I can’t say – as a Yorkshire girl born and brought up literally on the doorstep of this book’s setting (I live just a few miles further up the valley from Harrogate) that it felt particularly “Yorkshire-y” – it’s still a detailed and fully realised slow burn May to December romance and farm life itself is depicted in a realistic fashion I recognised from my own days as a young agricultural reporter working in Wharfedale.
There’s a lot of focus on Imre’s heritage as a descendant of a Romany family – lots of them in Yorkshire’s scattered communities who travel each year to the horse fair at Appleby in Cumbria – and it brings a heart to the story which I loved.
Luca took a bit to warm up to, he’s a directionless 19-year-old when the story starts, packed off to his dad’s best friend. who he hasn’t seen for a decade.
But it quickly becomes clear that he’s badly hurting by his parents’ relationship failing and doesn’t know how to deal with the emotional fallout.
Imre’s goat farm provides a haven full of good memories from before life started to go wrong for Luca’s family and I could feel my heart starting to break for him.
This is serious slow burn. Luca is in love with the man Imre is now, just as he was when he was a boy but there is a significant age difference between them. Nothing happens for more than half the book.
There’s lots of UST and it’s painfully clear neither of them quite knows how to move forward from friendship, and things are complicated by Imre’s demisexuality. It was a bit frustrating but totally fit the narrative.
As the book unwinds, you get drawn more and more into this intensely focused story which is basically a doubleheader of just Imre, Luca, the herd of goats and the battle with the elements (which was a tad extreme for Yorkshire, we’ve not had a winter that bad since about 1947 😉 ) as they struggle with feelings and the strenuous work of farming.
There’s lots to love about this book and I suspect anyone who isn’t a Yorkshire native like me won’t be mithering (Yorkshire dialect there for complaining/moaning) over the little things.
They’ll just be able to fully appreciate the ride and delight in a happy ending which really is beautifully crafted.
#ARC kindly provided by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.