Friday 31 August 2018

Book Review: The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes

Title: The Artisan Heart
Author: Dean Mayes 
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Publication Date: 1st September 2018
Format Read: EBook
Source: Uncorrected copy from publisher via Netgalley.

Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia's southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.

After disciplinary action at work and his marriage falling apart Hayden feels his life is spiralling out of control. He needed time to think and contemplate his future. With no family and no real friends in Adelaide he decides to return to his home town of Walhalla, in country Victoria. When he returns to the town of his youth, and the dilapidated house of his deceased parents, he is welcomed back with open arms.

Soon after Hayden arrives home he meets Isabelle (Belle) who is also starting over in Walhalla. Hayden and Belle have history and the memories aren’t pleasant. However in a small town it’s very hard to avoid each other.

At the beginning of the story you may think Hayden is a bit wishy washy. Belittled by his charismatic and powerful wife; he is reserved and downtrodden coming across as awkward and aloof. Don’t let this deter you. Hayden does grow and gain self confidence. However, the confidence he lacks in love does not carry over to his professional life. He is an excellent doctor well revered by his peers.

This is a sweet romance story of two broken people finding each other and falling in love.

Mayes touches on the societal issue of child abuse with the introduction of Genevieve a 7 year old deaf child. Placing a child as one of the main characters can be quite tricky however was well executed with Genevieve never pushed to the background or forgotten.

I especially loved Mayes’ depiction of life in the small rural town. The descriptions of the town, from the local cafe to the pub, are welcoming and warm. It’s easy to fall in love with this beautiful town and its friendly, unpretentious people.

I liked how Mayes weaved the word ‘artisan’ throughout the story making it more than a title; it became the essence of the story.

The Artisan Heart is as much a story of the town and its people, banding together in a time of need, as it is about Hayden and his finding himself, reconciling with his past and embracing his future.

I read an advanced reader copy of Mayes' novel The Recipient, an intense thriller centred around a heart transplant patient, and I loved it. It was filled with mystery suspense and drama. Could Mayes go from writing a gripping thriller to a romance? I have to be honest and say I had my doubts; but he did it! The story was perfect with well crafted characters and real emotion, drama and suspense.

I have no doubt you will fall in love with Walhalla and its residents. It was hard to say goodbye to them by the end of the story.

Mayes is fast becoming one of my favourite Australian authors and I do hope he continues with the Contemporary Romance genre.

*I received an uncorrected review copy from the publisher via Netgalley.

Content: Swearing – not enough to even warrant a mention
                A couple of sex scenes
                Minimal violence
                Mentions of child accidents in A & E

My Rating 5/5        🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Reviews Aussie author challenge

Booktastic Link it up Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Jo Linsdell where book bloggers can link up their latest book related post.

photo courtesy of Goodreads

 When he emerged in 2010, Adelaide based Intensive Care Nurse and author Dean Mayes, had almost given up on the prospect of ever being published. By then in his 30's with several abortive writing attempts under his belt, Dean believed he had missed his opportunity. But Dean had an idea for one last story he wanted to tell and, rather than allow it to wither and die in his imagination, he decided to blog it instead.

Quite unexpectedly, Dean's blog took off and after a chance encounter with Canadian based publisher Central Avenue in mid 2009, Dean's dream like tale about a young man who discovers he has taken on the memories and dreams of a complete stranger, became his first novel. Dean was signed to an initial two year contract and in 2010 "The Hambledown Dream" was published. The novel has since gone on to receive global attention and critical acclaim.

Dean set about penning a follow up novel that was not merely a repeat performance and in 2012 "Gifts of the Peramangk" a powerful Australian family saga. Chronicling a dysfunctional Aboriginal family in the struggle streets of Adelaide's suburban fringe, "Gifts of the Peramangk" has been described as significant literary achievement. In October 2013, it was nominated as a finalist in the prestigious EPIC Awards for contemporary fiction.

Dean's third feature length novel, a psychological thriller set in Melbourne called "The Recipient", showcased his ability to cross genres and deliver a taut and gripping tome about a heart transplant patient who discovers her organ donor was a murder victim - and that the murder remains unsolved.

He lives in Adelaide, Australia with his partner Emily, their two children Xavier and Lucy. An Intensive Care Nurse with over 15 years of clinical experience in adult, paediatric and neonatal medicine, he can often be found lying on a hospital gurney at 3 in the morning with a notebook in hand, madly scribbling ideas while on his break.

Dean is represented by Michelle Halket and is published by Central Avenue Publishing of Vancouver, Canada.



  1. I may need to check this one out! Great review.

    1. It was well written. My first romance written by a male author I think.

  2. This is jenchaosreviews, I think this would be a good read!

  3. sounds fascinating, thank you for sharing your thoughts

  4. Great review. This book definitely sounds interesting.

  5. Your lovely review has made me greedy - I wants it

  6. Great review. Looks like a sweet story.

  7. Sounds like quite the read. Great review.

  8. I am just starting to get into the contemporary genre but if it's a romance, I'm interested :) I really enjoyed your review and I can see myself reading this one in the very near future! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    Megan - Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest

  9. Great review! I love your content/trigger warnings section at teh bottom, that's useful.

    1. Thank you Jordanne. I try to remember to include content as it's helpful if you are looking to buy a book as a gift.

  10. I don't normally read many romances by male authors, you have me intrigued though!

    1. It's my first male author romance. I haven't read Nicholas Sparks yet but it would be interesting to compare.