Guest Post + Review: Farm of Fancy by Julianna Thorn

Hello my lovely follower. Happy to have you here. 😀

I am thrilled to announce author Julianna Thorn today on my blog, who’s debut work, Farm of Fancy, is out in the wild.
She was gracious in agreeing to a guest post so I’m excited to share her post with you.

In the post she talks about How Environment affects communication and influences a character. Read below what this means for her character in Farm of Fancy, how this is a big topic for either Gabriel as well as David.

Guest post: How Environment affects communication and influences a character

I’m a firm believer in making environment a “character” when writing a story. Apart from being key in creating ambiance, having the physical landscape and social circumstances shape how the people interact with each other can make for more dynamic character motivations and more dynamic relationships, too!

My Missing Cities series depends on the sparse population of rural environments in affecting relationships. One of the reasons I chose this setting is to contrast the isolation of the environment with the burgeoning closeness of the main characters. How, I asked myself, do landscape and slapdash community influence how people relate to each other?

Isolation plays a pretty key theme in Farm of Fancy, which is something I made obvious from the very first scene. The first chapter opens with Gabe waking up and meditating on the upsides and downsides of living alone on the edge of town. Although under different circumstances, David, too, is feeling isolated by his environment: Gabe and David both find it difficult to be authentically themselves in Armstrong.

The ability of each of them to show the other who he is and be understood despite their environment is a strong motivating bond of the relationship between David and Gabe—but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy road to get there.

Another thing that I find really important in my writing process is to establish realistic dialogue—which means that people don’t always understand each other, and that it sometimes takes some work to get to the real meaning of what the other is saying.

In Farm of Fancy, miscommunication motivates the plot a lot! From the very first chapter, Gabe sabotages his interactions with David because he’s wary of his attraction to David.

As the story progresses, the reasons for his sabotage become increasingly obvious. Although Gabe knows he is different in the town and doesn’t hide it, bad experiences in Armstrong mean that he’s wary about identifying as gay around people he doesn’t know. Communication from Gabe stays awkward, sabotaging, and stilted as a result until David outs himself to Gabe in chapter 4—at which point Gabe opens up considerably, even if it’s still pretty difficult for him to express himself clearly.

David, too, finds difficulty in presenting himself authentically in the town. After spending more than fifteen years frequenting Toronto’s gay village, a move to Armstrong—with no obvious gay community—is a bit of a shock. Like Gabe, he derives a lot of strength from the quiet and solitude, but being mistaken for straight is something he hasn’t experienced to this degree for a long time.

As a result, he’s a little wary about being open about his orientation in a town where he’s trying to build a business. It takes several meetings for him to come out to Gabe, even though he picks up on Gabe’s evaluation of his appearance—and even then it’s a bit of an accident, and something he’s prepared to regret.

The number one most important thing when making miscommunication a plot device is making sure miscommunications are motivated. Using the environment as a prop is one really great way to help develop those motivations. It can justify Gabe’s self-sabotage in conversation, justify why David never tells Gabe that he didn’t just get divorced until Gabe insults his deceased husband, and creates a physical distance that allows David and Gabe to coexist in a small town without ever forcing a conflict—and give Gabe’s sister the close encounter she needs to try to re-establish communication between them when it falls apart completely.

Environment matters so much to communication—be it physically, socially, or politically. Giving environment the attention it deserves in writing can help characters’ motivations and can help the plot along, too—not to mention its usefulness in pacing, worldbuilding, and usefulness in foreshadowing, if you play your cards right!

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You’ve loved the post? Well, me too. Below read my thoughts about the book.

I can’t wait to meet Gabriel and David again – or do we have a new couple next time? We’ll see. 😀 I’m super excited and can’t wait what Julianna has planned for us. :3

Farm of Fancy (Missing Cities, #1)Farm of Fancy by Julianna Thorn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~*


Gabe Byrne likes the simple life. Quiet, coffee, and the company of his horse are all he needs.

When his mare takes sick, Gabe calls David Meloy, the town’s new veterinarian—who’s so gorgeous Gabe can barely think straight.

In a town like Armstrong, it’s hard to find people Gabe can trust. After a tough break-up and a long recovery from cancer, Gabe knows this attraction isn’t a complication he needs, and he’ll do what it takes to protect himself from more heartbreak.

David Meloy might be new to small-town life, but after the sudden passing of his husband, a fresh start is exactly what he needs. With his own vet practice and a new dog to keep him company, life is starting to feel good again.

If only Gabe Byrne would stop insulting him in public.

David’s a professional, so when the call comes about Gabe’s sick mare, David answers—even if it means getting stuck in a blizzard.

Trapped together by the storm, can they look past their arguments to find a connection? Or will David’s conflicted feelings, Gabe’s insecurities, and the hard realities of small-town life rise to stand in their way?

FARM OF FANCY is an 74,000 word meet-ugly-turned-cute HEA romance—the first in a series of standalone novels about gay life in rural British Columbia.

Debut works are always exciting because you never know what you get. This book was capturing my attention when I was scrolling through my timeline and heard so many good things about it.

It’s save to say I not only liked the book, I actually loved it. I was mesmerized by the isolated living of Gabe, one of the main characters, how he is pretty happy with being alone, with only his animals – in fact he seems only to really care about his mare Gretchen – as companions and how he feels like a fish in the water not being social at all or have a close connection to his neighbours. Pretty early in the book we get how Gabe is acting, what he prefers:

“Being a carpenter was lonely work – which was part of why he chose it.”

I think this line is remarkable because he is well aware of his status, later in the book he tells David he knows how people see and react to him and – weirdly enough – it seems nothing he worries  about too much.

This weird nonchalance but which has a sad loneliness to it was what hooked me. Gabe isn’t an unsocial guy per se, he just don’t know better, he is used to deal with his own shit. In ways he loves to be outside a molded norm and where the reader gets how this looked like in Gabe’s past – in a very interesting talking with a lots of unexpected revealings 😉 – it shows in the present as being and acting like a grumpy (old) unbearable guy, living alone on his farm, taking care of his animals (which he can’t really stand to be honest; he only accepts his horse Gretchen, which is an pretty interesting fact as well).

Gabe isn’t a character who is easy to read; more and more, after he and David get along – after a hilarious start 😀 – he shows Dave, and the reader more parts of him, but although we get these information an add them to a whole picture together, life isn’t an easy thing for Gabe – and the end actually nearly crushed me. The book had a twist in the story which was unexpected and  I could totally understand why Gabe act like he did but my heart broke for David. I was so happy to have Erin as a marvelous side character.

Erin as being Gabe’s support is equally heartbreaking as amazing, as well as Gabe’s care about his sister and adorable sweet baby niece. I really loved this tender part of Gabe, the “different” side of him. Pretty at the beginning of the book we have this quote:

“He [David] saw a complex man he barely understood – someone devoted to home who also begrundged it. He pushed people away, and yet seemed to love fiercely.”

This is Gabe in a nutshell and we see all this illustrated in the book. Gabe is tender towards his niece, his mare as well as his sister. He creates and builts furniture and other amazing things out of a simple thing like wood and other tools; using solely his hands. He’s working his magic and makes people’s homes – as well as his own – a warm and cozy place. It’s no wonder David is mesmerized when Gabe let him take a peek at it – show him these sides.

But not only is Gabe adorable because of his tenderness, you are also loving him because of his talent to put his foot in his mouth and say things he should have thought about better and with a filter. xD I can’t tell how many times I sat there and cry-laughed about him. I only mention the supermarket scene and toilet paper packages. 😀

But this review shouldn’t only a gushing about Gabe – and don’t get me wrong, in parts Gabe deserves a clap on his head for his behaviour sometimes.

I was also hooked by David. He is also a character who, like Gabe, is in ways isolated. In his case it’s not really something wanted but it’s because of being the new veterinarian in the rural town called Armstong in British Columbia. He’s the typical boy from the city, pretty different to the folks living there. He’s carrying grief and loss with him and the way how we get to know him better, how he tries to settle down in the new town is someting that’s more than interesting to read about. Questions of whether it is okay to start a new life, to fall in love again. He’s dealing with his own problems and is faced his own fears.

This debut work has lots of strong, emotional parts, but it’s funny and tender and heartwaming too. It’s real, it’s honest, sometimes depressing and frustrating but with the end – especially the epiloge – it gives the reader a fulfulling read.

Since this is the first book in the series I’m more than curious what the author has planned for the next book(s). I’m super excited to see it and read it. :3 This debut work should be added to every collection of those who love grumpy farmers (there is animal sickness but there’s a happy end for the animal, don’t worry ;)) and who devour the enemies to lovers trope. 5 out of 5 stars for this book.

View all my reviews

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Author bio – Julianna Thorn
Julianna Thorn is a writer and editor from British Columbia, living in Central Canada with a very large cat and a regular-sized human. When not writing elsewhere under other names, she likes video games, tabletop games, reading, and shouting at the sky during various seasons. She can also be found on twitter.
Author links / get in contact
Website (Tumblr)

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