Tag Archives: grief

This is an emotional tour de force set in New Zealand sheep country

The Art of Husbandry coverThe Art of Husbandry by Jay Hogan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jay Hogan has such a deft hand when it comes to exploring the ways life can change unexpectedly.

Here we see two seismic shifts which occur in the life of Gil Everett, a 39-year-old psychologist based in Wellington, New Zealand.

The first occurs in the Prologue, when his 10-year-old daughter is killed in the same car accident which leaves him with relatively few injuries in comparison.

The second is 18 months later, when he retreats to Mackenzie County, high in the Southern Alps to take up a role as domestic manager on a sheep station and to try and escape the anger and rage he’s feeling at his marriage breaking down on top of everything else.

We get to see the aftermath of this trauma in all its vicious rage, the panic attacks, the nightmares, the despair and the lost hope.

But then, slowly, we also get to see an awakening as the almost 10 years younger station owner Holden Miller lets Gil open his eyes to new horizons.

The first is his sexual re-emergence, the attraction to the rangy shepherd is an unwelcome as it is unexpected. But, of course, this is a romance and where would we be without that attraction sparking a flame that just begins to burn brighter and brighter.

I think what I loved the most about this book is how it is so firmly rooted in its landscape. It’s not just falling in love with Holden that sets Gil on his road to recovery and acceptance.

It’s finding his place within the vastness of the New Zealand mountains, the monotony of daily station life, in the small things which begin to heal the broken parts of his life.

And Holden, he’s an absolute gem of a man. He’s felled like a log when Gil arrives, his has been a life of no strings, hook-ups with his best mate and a plan for zero commitments other than that to his sheep station.

But he steps up when he realises how much Gil is changing the way he thinks about things. He wants a lifetime of early mornings on the porch as the sun rises, he wants chats over coffee and cake, he wants Gil in his bed but also in his heart.

Be aware, this book tackles tough and heart-breaking subjects, it doesn’t skirt around the trauma, nor is it a magic dick solves all romance where as soon as Gil realises he might love Holden back, all is well.

They work hard for their happy ending, and it’s worth all the more for it.

Jay also lays down the intriguing narrative for the second book in this series and I have to say, while I had an idea it might go that way, I am so looking forward to seeing how she’s going to pull it off! No hints here, you’ll have to read The Art of Husbandry to find out!

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Cover Reveal: The Art of Husbandry by Jay Hogan

The Art of Husbandry | Jay Hogan

Mackenzie Country #1

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Release Date: June 1st, 2023

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When life drowns you in lemons, to hell with making lemonade. I wanted to burn the whole world. But eighteen months from the day my life was torn apart, I’m tired of the anger. Tired of the nightmares. Tired of putting one foot in front of the other just trying to survive. Three months on a high country sheep station in the middle of nowhere is precisely the reboot I need. A chance to break free. To breathe again. To find a way forward.

I put my entire life on hold and head south to Mackenzie Country. But falling for the captivating young station boss was never part of the plan. Holden Miller might be smart and sexy and push all my dusty buttons, but we come from two different worlds. I’m not looking for a relationship. I’m not interested in love. I’m done with all that.

But Holden doesn’t care about my rules. Nestled safely in the arms of the spectacular Southern Alps, on an isolated sheep farm at the top of the world, Holden begins knitting my battered heart together one careful stitch at a time. And with every pass of the thread, every braid of the river on our doorstep, I catch a tantalising glimpse of something I’d almost given up on.

Happiness, and maybe even love.

If I have the courage to reach out and grab them.


About The Author


Jay is a 2020 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Gay Romance and her book Off Balance was the 2021 New Zealand Romance Book of the Year. She is a New Zealand author writing mm romance and romantic suspense, primarily set in New Zealand.

She writes character driven romances with lots of humour, a good dose of reality and a splash of angst. She’s travelled extensively, lived in many countries, and in a past life she was a critical care nurse, nurse educator and counsellor.

Jay is owned by a huge Maine Coon cat and a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel

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Jackie delivers a mystery romance with all the feels

Hiding Place CoverHiding Place by Jackie Keswick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another really love read from Jackie.

She has such a clever way of drawing you into a story by slowly revealing little snippets of story, or growth in feelings, without ever bashing the reader over the head with lots of exposition.

Her use of emotions through the language and dialogue choices she makes also give you a real sense of what both Robert and Zach have been through and the traumas they’ve had to deal with

You get all the feels with this one, grief, anger, loss, pain, hope, love and the dawning of a bright new future full of healing.

Zach is a real sweetheart. From the start we get a sense of this still relatively young man who has been dealt a blow that could have levelled a lesser man.

Not only did he lose his two best friends, but the career they’d built together as successful musicians and he’s temporarily distanced (albeit because he’s dealing with too much grief) from the only family he’d known in Noel and Ricky’s parents.

Robert’s a harder win, though he will ultimately steal your heart too when you find out all his secrets. He blows hot and cold with Zach but comes through big time as the story develops and through the way he offers comfort and support.

The murder mystery element is intriguing, there’s not much given away until the very end and it felt like a believable and satisfying conclusion to me.

And, with a Northumbrian setting that feels very familiar to me as all my childhood holidays were spent in and around Alnwick, the whole book delivers.

My only reason for it not being a 5* review is that I personally prefer to have a little more heat taking place on page, although Jackie does deliver on the physical relationship between them, it’s not overly detailed and there are elements of fade to black in some places.

Overall though this book provides a beautiful relationship with two people who perfectly suit each other and who you know will grow happily grey sitting in the Pele Tower and watching the sun set over the beautiful countryside.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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