Review of Behind the Pine Curtain by Gerri Hill, Audiobook narrated by Abby Craden
Gerri Hill is slowly releasing all the back catalog on audiobook and has very cleverly chosen Abby Craden as the narrator. This book was written in 2006 but despite the world has changed, homophobia in certain parts of the US (and the rest of the world) is still present.
When Jacqueline Keys came out to her parents at seventeen, she was sent away from the small town of Pine Springs, Texas, to avoid gossip about her family. Fifteen years later, Jacquie is now a famous writer living in LA with no interest in going back to Texas until she receives the news that her father passed away. There she’ll meet her former best friend and teenage crush Kay who will stir old feelings in Jacquie…
This is a very good return to hometown plus friends to lovers romance by Gerri Hill. But reducing this novel to that would be an extreme simplification as there are a few subplots merging in the story. There is family conflict, small-town dynamics, Jacquie’s father’s business matters, and a coming-out story. With so many different things happening in this book not every single plotline is developed with the same success. I felt that the business storyline was a bit simplified as well as Jacquie’s relationship with her mother.
However, the romance is at the front of the plot and Ms. Hill presents it beautifully. As it’s typical of coming-out stories, it’s a slow-burn romance that Ms. Hill builds up unhurriedly. The chemistry between the mains, first as friends then as lovers, is spot on and very obvious to the reader so much so that’s impossible not to root for them. The secondary characters are also worth a mention, especially Kay’s sister Rosie. As usual, nature, wildlife, and beautiful landscapes are present like in most of Ms. Hill’s work.
The story is narrated by Abby Craden who is, as usual, fantastic. Ms. Craden is such a gain for lesfic as a whole and Ms. Hill in particular because of the high quality of all her performances. As always, her voices are distinctive and the performance of emotions outstanding. At under 7 hours, it’s a short-ish audiobook but worth a listen. 4.5 stars.
Length: 6 hrs and 52 mins