This book, I think, was a classic example of: I expected too much. Or more precisely, I expected too much of Tilly Tennant. So far, every book of hers I’ve read? I loved. And that just wasn’t so much the case with Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts…
I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.
Hattie was once thrilled to call the beautiful city of Paris her home. But when her heart is broken by her boyfriend and she loses her dream job, she bids farewell to the city of love and hurries home to Gillypuddle, a sleepy village on the Dorset coast. But as she returns home she finds her parents struggling to cope with a terrible family tragedy.
In a desperate search for a new start, Hattie takes a job at the donkey sanctuary nearby on Sweet Briar Farm where Jo, the taciturn owner, certainly loves her animals far more than humans. Hattie can’t help but fall in love with the donkeys (and the opportunity to get close to dreamy Canadian vet Seth) but Jo is harder to get to know and when she finds her boss sobbing in her sleep one stormy night, she knows that her new friend is hiding a dark secret.
And when handsome newspaper reporter Owen does some digging into Jo’s past he finds something that connects her to Hattie on a whole new level. Can Hattie trust what Owen says, especially when he seems intent on standing in the way of her blossoming romance with Seth? And can Hattie help Jo to start healing and the donkeys of Sweet Briar Farm?
First things first – and this probably didn’t help my appreciation of the book – this “official” summary of the book? Not quite right. That’s to say, the entire first half of the book focuses almost exclusively on Hattie as she tries to adapt to being back home, back with her parents, and working at Sweet Briar Farm.
And you know what? It’s actually a very pleasant read! Hattie falls absolutely in love with the donkeys, and there’s even a really nice friendship developing between her and Jo.
But because of that, it felt as if, by the time the second half of Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts came round? The author suddenly remembered “oh yeah, I write romance”. And then had to cramp in all of that part of the plot. For me, at least, that made the second half of the book feel kind of rushed. And at times – way less well-written than I’m used to from Tilly Tennant.
A part of that, might also have been the fickleness of the characters. Seth does like 3 180° turns within the span of half a page, Hattie changes her mind about approximately everything every other chapter. Even Jo, who – in general – was fairly steady (albeit taciturn)? Suddenly goes a bit weird.
And that brings me to the thing that bugged me most. I was expecting the story to mention something about Jo’s trauma way earlier in the book. That’s one thing. But then, when it’s mentioned, I feel as if the author didn’t quite manage to convey the depth of how morose Jo was? Because of that, what could have been a steady decline, turned into quite a steep and unexpected one. And that, again: for me at least, took away from what could have been a beautiful yet tragic scene at the end of the book.
The thing is – as per the usual – I’m trying to stay spoiler free. So I can’t really tell you what I mean by any of this. Just take my word for it, though: Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts – and especially the latter half of it – felt as if it could have done with at least another round of editing. Something to smooth the bumps – not in the plot, but in the writing.
Because I probably disliked that most… This book had the potential to be absolutely brilliant. It just didn’t really deliver on that promise.
The rating: 2.5/5
I don’t give books ratings below 3 that easily, so I’m probably just as disappointed as you are that I couldn’t quite make myself give it that. Because, as I said: I did really enjoy the first half of this book. I just wish the second half had lived up to that… (Goodreads)