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The Artist's Secret

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Every now and then you just need a good romance to cuddle up with. I found that in The Artist’s Secret. It has everything I want in a romance novel. If you’re looking for a book that will give you all the feels, check this one out
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A new author for me and was so glad to have found her.  Having not read many books set in Australia, the author drew a vivid picture of the landscape and times that drew me in quickly.  

Peter has come to work as the new land manager to a budding winery.  He also is trying to find out more about his mother's family, as she was an aborigine and he is of mixed blood which appears to have detractors just as anywhere else during this time.  He is drawn to the owner's sister, Elizabeth who has been helping with the books but she only wishes to pursue her art, which has started getting noticed.

This is a character driven story that pulled me in and made me so glad to have read. I need to go back and read the first book, although it is not necessary, because I know it will give even more background.
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Peter is nice, Elizabeth is nice, most of their neighbors are nice, Robert and Alice and their new baby are nice. The first third of the story meanders about with seeming episodic scenes that abruptly cut off after a clue is gently tossed out. I had to work to keep my interest engaged as it didn’t appear to have much of a plot.     

Hints were dropped about Peter’s ethnicity but it took a while to flesh this out. He has always found the anonymity of larger Sydney easier to live in but gets some stares where he is now. There is one scene in which Peter bristles at a collection of things that stand for how Whitefellers have taken over Australia and Aboriginal land. It isn’t until the Biblical flood that any major degree of racial nastiness against Peter pops up. This opens the door for Elizabeth to apologize for her earlier statements and attitude and for Peter to discuss his family’s past. 

Peter tells Elizabeth that his mixed-race mother was raised to be ashamed of her heritage and that, growing up, all discussion of her past was firmly forbidden. Peter has an encounter with an Aboriginal man in town and, somewhat shamefacedly,  confesses that he doesn’t understand when the man speaks in an Aboriginal language. As the book ends though, he’s still searching for information and the townsfolk appear to have accepted him as well as his marriage to Elizabeth. Meanwhile their union got a boosted thumbs up from Robert due to his own misalliance with Alice. 

I enjoyed learning more about Australian past and imagining the Brindabella Range but must admit that the early part of the book was hard to stay interested in. It ends with unanswered questions about Peter’s people lingering as well as a conversation that Elizabeth and Robert were supposed to have about an earlier fiance from her past. But at least Alice is still indomitable. Seriously to not mess with that woman. C
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'Peter Rowe's life is in the city, but his soul is in Australia's southern tablelands - a place he's never seen. Taking the new land manager's position on the thriving estate of Endmoor is the chance he needs to discover what happened to the family he has never met. What he doesn't expect to find in the bush is his employer's talented, beautiful sister.

Elizabeth Farrer's world is changing rapidly. An artist whose work has begun to gain acclaim, her brother's marriage has made her redundant in her own home and she intends to leave the country and make a life of her own. Her plans would take her far from her beloved New South Wales, but with the arrival of Endmoor's newest employee - a man unlike any other she has met - she discovers there might just be a reason to stay right where she is.'
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The Artist's Secret is the second book in Sonya Heaney's debut series, Brindabella Secrets and is a historical romance set in historical Australia's New South Wales. Whereas the first book in the series, The Landowner's Secret told the story of Robert Farrer, this second book follows two years later and tells the story of his sister Elizabeth and the man who has come to take up a new position and live on their estate.

I quite enjoyed the first book in the series and had been looking forward to reading this one, but found that it didn't quite measure up to the first book for me. I found that it was a slow read and it took me a while to get into it. Much of the beginning of the book is following the characters puttering about the estate while not much else goes on. The story didn't really pick up until about three-quarters of the way through the book at which point a whole lot happens at once, which I really enjoyed because there was a sense of urgency and danger which made me much more invested in the characters than I had been up until that point. I wish the story had picked up a little earlier or had been more evenly spread out because that would have made a big differnce for me as to how much I enjoyed the book.

The artist being Elizabeth, I didn't find her secret to be much of a secret, but it did add a bit of conflict to the storyline. I really enjoyed the characters and loved that we got to revisit ones that we had met in the previous book and see how things were doing for them after the conclusion of The Landowner's Secret. And I liked both main characters individually but at times the connection between them felt to be a bit one-sided or even to flip-flop at times.

It is not a clean romance, but that being said there is only one short intimate scene which isn't very detailed and could very easily be skipped over if you wish not to read it.

I'm curious to learn if there will be a third book in the Brindabella Secrets series and, if so, where it would take us. Perhaps to learn more about Martha or Daisy?
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I would like to thank NetGalley and Escape Publishing for sharing an eARC of The Artist's Secret by Sonya Heaney with me. This is my honest review.
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The second book in the Brindabella series, ‘The Artist's Secret’ follows Elizabeth Farrer, an artist with a blossoming career. Whilst living in rural Australia with her brother and his new wife, Elizabeth feels that her position within the house has changed. With the arrival of Peter Rowe, as the new land manager, Elizabeth finds herself drawn to her, the more time they spend together. Peter is part-aboriginal and finds himself facing considerable prejudice, further complicating his relationship with Elizabeth.
With the vivid description of the Australian landscape, the experiences of the characters were easily understood. The characters of Peter and Elizabeth are presented as two genuine characters, with Peter’s kind and friendly nature, well suited to Elizabeth’s gentle nature. With Elizabeth’s brother and sister-in-law (from Book 1) cleverly interwoven into the story, this was a great read.
I look forward to another Sonya Heaney book, and hope to read more about Peter’s sister.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This story is one to read slowly and appreciate. Set in the Brindabella Ranges area of rural NSW in 1887, it gives readers a beautifully drawn image of life on the land at that time. 
I loved hero Peter Rowe, an accountant sent from Sydney to Endmore, the property at the centre of the story, ostensibly to work on the property’s books, though as the story unfolds it is clear that Peter’s link to the area around Endmore is far stronger than he realised at the beginning. Peter’s mother was Aboriginal and came from the area and one of the threads through this story is Peter’s quest to find out more about her people. I thought the topic was respectfully handled and very interesting to learn about.
Artist Elizabeth Farrer is the heroine of this story and she, too, is a character to admire at times and sympathise with. As a 26 year-old spinster she’s a target for marriage, though she clearly understands the benefits of being a single woman. As an artist whose work is becoming more and more saleable it seems she is in a position to choose whether to marry or not and I admired her for her considered approach to the topic.
I loved the interplay between Elizabeth and Peter. The way it was written was appropriate to the historic setting and beautifully written. You almost felt as though you’d stepped back in time. I also loved the setting, both Endmore, a working vineyard and sheep grazing property, and the local town of Barracks Flat. Both were well described. This story is now full of massive peaks and troughs. Appropriate to the setting, the highs and lows are more gently presented, but still sufficient to maintain reader interest. This has been a fascinating and enjoyable story.
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When I saw Sonya Heaney's name on the cover of this book, I knew right away this was going to be a great read!  After her debut novel, The Landowner's Secret, I was suddenly enthralled with historical Australia.  It's a setting that's not often highlighted in historical romance novels, and honestly, folks, there is seriously untapped potential there.  It has the feel of the American wild west but while I know a lot about that as an American, I know next to nothing about Australia's history.  Sonya Heaney slowly educates her readers, so that by the time you are finished reading, you have learned something vital.  Each book shows that to the readers, so once you've read one, you'll be itching to read the next.  

Peter Rowe has taken on the new land manager's position on a wine-making estate in Barracks Flat, a land farther south in the colony than he has ever been before.  Used to the hustle of Sydney, he is both bewildered and charmed by the small town he finds himself in, and it doesn't hurt that his employer's sister has caught his eye.  However, he has a dual-purpose in being there, and a dalliance isn't in his plans.  Elizabeth Farrer, an artist of growing acclaim, has felt lost in her creativity as she feels more and more trapped in her brother's home, now that he has married and the household doesn't need her.  Her new sister-in-law loves her, and they all get along splendidly, but lately Elizabeth has been considering a big change - a move to England, where she was born and her parents now live.  Her decision becomes more complex as she realizes she is falling for Peter, and while they both resist the pull towards each other, each day that passes brings them closer together.

Peter and Elizabeth were a cute couple from the beginning, with her anxious to make a good impression and him putting her at ease as she bumbles her way through an introduction.  It was interesting to learn more about Peter's heritage - you'll guess it early on, as it's not a big secret, but it's not something he talks much about either.  I would be interested in knowing if Elizabeth's outlook on it was particularly progressive in Australia, since I know how it would have been perceived anywhere else during that time.  They were both such good people, though not without their flaws, and they complemented each other so well.  Peter was kind, generous and clearly in love with Elizabeth, but he was also fighting to keep her reputation safe.  Elizabeth was cautious at first, given her history with romance, but she soon knew that Peter was the love she had been searching for.  It was a beautifully written relationship, and there was only one instance in the book where I felt there was a bit of conflict that seemed out of character for the both of them.  It was resolved fairly quickly, and I think it would have been even better to have delved into it further.  However, it was sufficiently there to peak my interest and learn more outside of the book.  

Once again, I leave one of Sonya Heaney's books eager for the next one to be published!  I hope we don't have to wait too long.
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I so wanted to really love this book and support a newish Aussie writer. There were many good things about it: the well described Australian rural landscape, the hero's search for his Aboriginal heritage as he tries to strike a balance between the two worlds while dealing with racism. However, although the author spends a lot of time on detailing various aspects of life in such historical setting, there unfortunately wasn't much of a plot nor much of a romance. The protagonists interacted with each other a few times, before we're told they have developed feelings for one another. There's a bit of fuss about the heroine's past love that kind of took the focus off the main romance. I also must admit to be surprised at how generally well accepted the hero was accepted by most, despite his obvious mixed heritage. I expected racism to be far more overt and rampant back in those days.
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I liked this book, but it is a very hard read. The reader really has to work to get through it because it is a slow read. It picks up near the end and the time spent is worth the trouble. The heroine is a 25 year old woman who has moved to Australia to live with her brother and sister-in-law on a ranch that is in the process of becoming a vineyard. Her brother and his business partner are attempting to sell Australian wines to the Europeans. In this pl process, they have hired an accountant to help them. The heroine has been keeping the books because she is good at it, but in reality she is an artist who is just beginning to sell. The accountant is the hero. He is a man who was raised in Sydney and comes out to work for a couple of months. There is a lot more to this story and I try to not spoil the effect of the book for everyone, unless it is bad and then, I have to point it out. But with a good book, like this one, I wish the other readers to have my same experience. This book is good to read while you are sitting by the pool or on the beach, because it moves slow enough you can put a bookmark in and not lose your mental place. This book left me with a positive feeling and that is very important to me. The characters did a lot of developing and growing in this story, which ran for about 8 months or so. Maybe over the course of 6 months. Either way, this was a book that had correct grammar and spelling. I would give this book 4.5 stars because it was a slow paced book, but the rest was on point in my opinion. I recommend reading this book.
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This was such an imaginative, enjoyable story! 1880s Australia isn’t my typical time period and place to read so this just proves reading something outside of your norm can be great. 

Part aboriginal Peter and spinster Elizabeth have such a lovely relationship and are both nicely developed characters who I truly liked. Other than their great characterizations, I thought Sonya Heaney’s description of the landscape were so well done you could imagine the scenery perfectly. 

I certainly hope there are more books to come - I like Daisy and I really want her to have her own story and romance!
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Wow! What a great story! I enjoyed reading this tale of Peter and Elizabeth meeting, her brother hired him as his accountant, and he grew to be a close friend and eventually lover for Elizabeth. There is only one scene of them coming together, which I thought was somewhat tastefully done, although more detailed than I normally prefer. I also wish there had been more to the story of his family, he meets his grandfather, which I had hoped would be more detailed than it was. Overall, it was a good and interesting tale.
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The second book of Sonya Heaney's Brindabellas' Secrets series, "The Artist's Secret" chronicles the path of Elizabeth Farrer with her budding art trade and her romance with a man of mixed heritage.

The part-aboriginal Peter Rowe encounters prejudice in 1880s Australia, something I've never considered before, much to my shame. A wonderful person, he doesn't let the racism embitter or define him. His romance with Elizabeth is sweet and believable, filled with humorous moments and witty banter.

As in the first installment, descriptions of the landscape are vivid and evocative, and for this Kentuckian, exotic. While there is a sex scene near the end of the book, it is somewhat humorous and not detailed. Otherwise, the novel is clean. It is well-edited.

I do hope there are more books in the series. Peter's sister Daisy deserves a story, and their shared heritage needs further clarification.  Martha Wright needs her own tale, as well.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for an ARC of this enjoyable novel.
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This could have been a great story, but at times it moved very slowly. Peter is part aboriginal and has been sent to a fledging vineyard to help with their their ledgers. Elizabeth is considered a spinster at 26, but she doesn't need a man since her art is beginning to sell. As their attraction grows, Peter learns about his heritage, they fight a flood, and he becomes part of the vineyard. It is an interesting take on how people look at others of a different ancestry.
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