Through the years I’ve read many Janet Dailey novels but “Hart’s Hollow Farm” was my first encounter with the New Americana series which is set in Georgia. As with most of Dailey’s work the characters are the “All American” archetype; hard-working, loyal and generally good citizens of their respective communities. Kristen Daniels is applying for the job advertised by the aging Emmy Hart, who dreams of restoring Hart’s Hollow to its former glory.
Kristen isn’t afraid of hard work but she is leery of risking her heart by getting close to Emmy and her two great grandchildren. Not to mention their ruggedly handsome uncle, Mitch Hart who thinks both Emmy and Kristen are setting themselves up for failure with such lofty goals. The farm and the land have been neglected and ignored for so long Mitch doubts a few good men could turn it around, much less two women with two kids in tow. And Mitch has to figure out what to do about finding a home for his niece and nephew so he can get back to his job in New York. What a prince of a guy. But Mitch isn’t a heartless s.o.b. after all. He’s struggling to come to grips with his new responsibilities – which includes taking care of Emmy who is exhibiting early signs of dementia. Now Mitch finds himself back on the farm he hated when he was growing up and couldn’t wait to leave it behind. Poetic justice? Could Kristen be the answer to their dilemma? That’s a tall order for one woman. Especially a woman who has already lost so much that she’s afraid of loving and losing yet again.
Although “Hart’s Hollow Farm” was first published in 2019, it feels like it was written much earlier in her career. (Janet Dailey passed away in 2013.) The romantic relationship between Kristen and Mitch develops so slowly that it’s borderline virginal in its innocence. Nothing even close to some of her steamier stories such as the Calder series. But the characters, even the youngsters, are so well written and developed, that it all comes together. Perhaps a little too neatly but that’s more a matter of taste I think. Sometimes a little messy is a little better. More interesting anyway. I’m not sure I’ll venture further down the New Americana trail. I’m looking for more excitement than what this 4th book in the series offers. Three and a half stars.
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