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City girl Hannah Stockton writes histories as her day-job and family histories in her spare time. Needing a temporary escape from a violent boyfriend, she takes up an advertised position as a live-in caretaker ‘with light duties’ at a country retreat outside Melbourne. The owner, Philip Boulton, is a hunky high-flying banker who visits on weekends to attend to his small herd of cattle.


Hannah is dismayed to discover that Philip has been taught all he knows about farming by his next-door neighbour, who lusts after Philip and resents Hannah’s presence. Hannah can’t tell whether Philip is ‘more than friends’ with his guru.


Philip has recently discovered a family secret. Given his profession, he’s sensitive about this fact becoming public. Fearing Hannah’s skills as a family history researcher, he keeps her at a distance while he processes his secret.


Meanwhile, as her ‘boss’, he helps Hannah to overcome her fear of cattle and she learns to love country life … and Philip.

Readers' Comments


For 'Retreat into Paradise':

  • Hannah becomes a caretaker, of Phillip Boulton's country property, in country Victoria. With Pat, the beautiful neighbour, staking her 'claim' to Phillip, Hannah tries to hide her feelings. Does Phillip feel the same? Will Hannah's past catch-up with her? An excellent story, with twists and turns that keep you guessing. I started it Christmas night and finished it Boxing Day, so easy was it to read, loved it. Lilian Magill, Amazon
  • Romantic fiction is not normally what I read but I was already familiar with Louisa Valentine’s writing as Louise Wilson, author of some very acclaimed family histories so I gave it a go and it was well worth it. Hannah Stockton, like her creator, researches and writes family histories. Reeling from an abusive relationship and needing a quiet retreat to write her new history, she accepts a position as caretaker of a small cattle property just outside of Melbourne. The owner is successful banker, Phillip Boulton, who is not only attractive but a conscientious, modern week end farmer. But, alas,he is very sensitive about a mysterious blot on his own family story. His next door neighbour, Pat, has taught him a great deal about farming, she is extremely attractive, and is obviously ready to take the relationship further. Hannah is a city girl but ready to learn about the needs and habits of the somewhat intimidating cattle and Phillip is a patient instructor. Hannah’s ex partner is determined to find her and renew their relationship. So the scene is set. Louisa/Louise herself is not only a family historian but also has a background in economics and finance and she obviously knows a bit about domestic violence and farming. There are enough issues in the story to make it a good choice for book clubs and as a family and local historian myself I would recommend it to anyone interested in these activities. PLUS it is a jolly good story! Shirley Evans, Goodreads
  • Love the book, hope you are working on the next one.  Eliza Renton, FB
  • I am not a great fan of the Romance genre but was interested to read Louisa’s first novel. I found it to be an enjoyable read with great descriptions of country life in rural Victoria. My only criticism (and a minor one) is that the explanation for Philip’s behaviour, which was one of the main themes of the story, was something of an anti-climax. Robyn Lobb, Goodreads
  • I loved 'Retreat into Paradise', it brought back so many memories for me of the beautiful farm.
    I enjoyed the characters in the book and all of the twists in the story. Karen Wilson, FB
  • I really enjoyed your book. I think it will appeal to both genealogists and others equally. Perhaps a little predictable in parts, but definitely made me chuckle in parts with some of your family history references. It was a great holiday read. Well done. Jenny Scammell, FB Messenger
  • I enjoyed this romance for many reasons including its wit and humour. It has the requisite amount of sexual tension as well as some very interesting aspects of life on a cattle property. The setting is rural Victoria, a small enough state to allow primary producers to commute to Melbourne with relative ease. The writer uses this circumstance to explore the diverse experience of country and city life. Her male protagonist manages to straddle the two worlds with convincing allure as a love interest. The female, first person protagonist, is from a completely different world adding more interesting plot points to the story. There has never been a better time to read an enjoyable romance with substantive extra ingredients. Frances, Goodreads
  • A jolly good read and once started I found it very hard to put down. It is beautifully written and the story very believable. Marilyn Thrupp, Goodreads

News and Updates

Over the Christmas 2019 holiday period it was a thrill to see 'Retreat into Paradise' reach #3 on Amazon's rankings in its 'Western' category, where Australian rural romances are classified.


In February 2021 'Retreat into Paradise' was republished with a new ISBN and a brand new cover. It is available as an Ebook or paperback.


The new cover complements the theme for Louisa Valentine's second novel 'Trading Secrets', published in February 2021 and set in Sydney.


Follow Louisa Valentine on Facebook for updates.

Publication Details


Retreat into Paradise
Louisa Valentine
Louise Wilson, South Melbourne, VIC, 12 February 2021 
Ebook, 267 pages 
Paperback, 334 pages 

To Purchase


Purchase 'Retreat into Paradise' here. Ebook format only.




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