Monday, January 11, 2021

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, by Jessica Redland

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781838892289, January 2021

In the previous book, Samantha inherited the farm at Hedgehog Hollow, along with funds to establish it as a hedgehog rescue center. Her veterinarian boyfriend, Josh, is a major support, and although not officially moved in yet, is in fact spending  most nights at Hedgehog Hollow. Samantha is enjoying her new work, and in many ways, things are going very well.

Unfortunately, the rescue center also has enemies, and Samantha is, at the start of this book, just recovered from serious injuries received when she was rescuing some of her first hedgehog patients when those enemies torched the barn they were housed in. Also, while the rescue center is quickly becoming a full-time job, she's also still working full-time as a teacher and tutor at the local college. Even if she were completely recovered from her previous injuries, two full-time jobs would be too much.

The story is told in Samantha's voice and Josh's, in alternating chapters, giving us insight into both main characters, and the past traumas and current strains of their personal and familial pasts.

Josh's previously very close relationship with his father, Paul, also a veterinarian, has been devastated by Paul having a secret affair with Beth, whom Josh thought was his girlfriend, due to Beth acting very much like his girlfriend. This happened while Paul was still married to Josh's mom, Connie, and the whole deception only came crashing down when Beth became pregnant by Paul. Josh is now not speaking to, or accepting any contact at all with, Beth and Paul, and completely supportive of his mother. 

Samantha has a good relationship with her father, Jonathan--who is also divorced from her mother, who has been emotionally abusive to Samantha all her life. Samantha assumes the problem is herself, which is not an uncommon reaction.

In the alternating chapters, we follow the ongoing struggles of the two main characters with their respective broken families, and more of the underlying background as Josh and Samantha learn it. This of course affects their understanding, and response to, what they knew, and what they thought they knew, before. These are complicated and painful family relationships, realistically portrayed.

What's a little unusual about Samantha and Josh is that they have good communication skills with each other, and don't stop communicating no matter how stressed they get.

Both our main characters have lessons to learn and difficult decisions to make, but they have solid values and a solid relationship, and the adorable hedgehogs, whether injured, ill, or little hoglets whose momma has been killed, are always there, offering delightful leavening.

It's a good, interesting, satisfying story.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for participating in the blog tour for New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow. Delighted you found it an interesting and satisfying story. Best wishes