Review: The Friendship Tree by Helen J. Rolfe

The Friendship Tree by Helen J. Rolfe
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Pages: 235
Source: book provided by the author for review



Is running away ever the answer?

Tamara Harding left the UK to join family in Australia, but more importantly, to put ten thousand miles between her and her ex, Bradley Cox. She is soon drawn in to the small community of Brewer Creek where she becomes the coordinator for an old fashioned Friendship Tree – a chart telling people who they can call on in times of trouble.

As she vows to start over, she meets Jake Manning – and life gets more complicated than she could ever have imagined. Jake is the direct competitor for the family business, and a man with a dark secret, and Tamara struggles to fight her attraction to him as she deals with secrets of her own and an ex who refuses to give up.

When danger descends on Brewer Creek in the form of Jake’s own past, Tamara soon realises the Friendship Tree does a lot more than organise fundraising events and working bees; it has the power to unite an entire town. But will Tamara see past the complications and allow herself a happy ending with Jake?

Or will she run away again?


Review: The best way to describe this book is that it’s like an old fashioned Mills & Boon contemporary romance, set in Australia, but with a bite to it.

Jake and Tamara got off to a rocky start and so the set up appeared to be going along the path of many contemporary romance novels in which two people start off disliking or mistrusting one another, then wind up falling in love. However, the situation with Jake is very sinister and dangerous, making the second half of the book kind of tense.

The pacing was off here and there, with the first half dragging along, then the story gained some traction, only to lose momentum again with the appearance of Bradley in Australia. The plot line with Jake was the saving grace for the story and kept me interested and engaged.

The concept of The Friendship Tree is a spectacular idea and I think it should be implemented in all rural areas. Not only did it bring the community together, but it was instrumental in saving lives, which is vital in an area so underdeveloped.

I loved the Australian setting and always find this to be one of the most interesting locales, except when we have to discuss spiders and snakes, in which case I am firmly on Tamara’s side!

The romance was just like reading an old classic contemporary romance , but even more chaste. If you are looking for angst, passionate kisses, and profound words of love, keep moving because the focus here is more on the individual characters and what they need to get worked out in their personal lives before they can start thinking of a future with someone else. Jake and Tamara are not on the same page throughout the majority of the book, so there was little time to cultivate a romance, much less act on it. However, there is a satisfying conclusion and cute happy ending.

Overall, this a pleasant read built around an inspiring concept. I recommend this one to those who enjoy general contemporary fiction/romance and maybe even romantic suspense.