Book Review: Jilted by Rachael Johns

 

 

Jilted

Author: Rachael Johns

355 pages

Available: Now

‘The heartbreaker of Hope Junction is back…. ‘

 

 

Ellie Hughes is Australia’s favourite soap star. Young, beautiful and talented, she is adored by everyone except Flynn Quartermaine, the high school sweetheart she left standing at the altar some 10 years ago. Having fled the small country town of Hope Junction and leaving behind the handsome and rich small town hero Flynn, Ellie is understandably nervous about returning for the first time. But she has no choice as her adored god-mother, Matilda, is ill and needs her. So back to Hope Junction she goes, hoping her visit will be uneventful, perhaps even un-noticed by the locals. Alas, this is not to be.

Once back in town and en route to collect her currently hospitalised god-mother, the drama begins. As the story progresses, Ellie encounters old friends, old enemies, new friends, new enemies, people who know all about what happened 10 years ago and people who know nothing about it at all. The town is abuzz that not only does it have a genuine celebrity in it’s midst, but that celebrity comes with ties to the small town and most importantly, ties to it’s dashing, handsome and all round good guy, Flynn.

But what will Flynn make of Ellie’s return? Will he be angry or forgiving? Will he be married or pining away for her return? Will he be handsome still or a shadow of his former self? Will he even speak to her.

At this point I think I should mention that I bought this book to support the author, Rachael, who I have become friends with via the internet. As you know, I am a great supporter of all Aussie talent and felt this should include Aussie authors. So putting my money where my mouth is, I skipped off to buy myself a copy of Jilted (I found mine at Big W). The aisle where I found this book is one I usually avoid as this type of book really isn’t my thing. Chick lit, sometimes yes, but this? And it was a Harlequin romance to boot *sighs*

What had I done?? I had no choice.

I started reading.

Now obviously it has been some time since I picked up a romance novel because where is the bodice ripping? Where is the fade to black as they tenderly kiss? Where is the outdated, PG and a tad boring storytelling? This was not what I remembered. Once I stopped thinking and started reading, I was hooked.

This is a genuine old fashioned love story with a contemporary edge.  Ellie is real. She is not the most beautiful woman ever created, nor is she perfect with no flaws or issues. She is not waiting to be saved nor is she a heartless bitch who is broken beyond repair. Flynn, too, is very real. Handsome and rugged but with his own failings. Neither is the victim nor the hero. As the story progresses, there is no right or wrong, no black or white. It’s all so…..modern.

But it is the writing style that hooked me. There is nothing forced or studied here. The author clearly lives what she writes or at the very least, knows what she is talking about. The language is fresh, modern and colloquial enough to be instantly recognised as contemporary Australia. There is not the heavy handed ‘g’day mates’ and intimated slow drawls so often appropriated to anyone who lives beyond the urban sprawl.

The residents of Hope Junction and neither slow, timid or simpleminded. They may enjoy the simple pleasures of life and have a sense of community that is lacking in modern suburbia but there is nothing small town about any of the characters we encounter. Okay so I did chuckle at the Cranky Women’s errrrrrr I mean Country Women’s Association and the prayer tree. Forget the interwebs, if you want to know gossip in a small town, join the CWA. You know it’s true!

This story of love lost is exactly what it says it is. A love story with interesting, engaging characters that moves along at a steady pace offering a few surprises along the way. There are moments of suspense that are written to perfection so you are neither frustrated nor uninterested in what will happen next. This story is engaging from beginning to end.

It was a real joy to read this novel for a few reasons. It really is cool ‘knowing’ the author (thank you Twitter & Facebook) so for that reason alone, I am really glad I liked this book. It’s great to see modern Australia so well represented in such a positive, non-patronising manner.  I may have to give these books, previously ignored by me, a second look.

It was wonderful to read a good book. A well written, well thought out story that wasn’t just fodder for the seemingly dumb downed masses.  Novels such as this give me hope that good storytellers with original stories can still have their voice heard and their books published.

I look forward to and will be first in line for Johns’ next novel, which I believe she is writing as I speak.

Visit Rachael at:

http://www.rachaeljohns.com/

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Johns/260103224001776

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

 

Author: EL James

514 pages

Available: Now

Warning: Very Adult Content in parts….read at your own risk.

Anastasia Steele is a naïve and innocent college girl who offers to help out her best friend, Kate, by interviewing mega-industrialist Christian Grey for their student newspaper. Anastasia stumbles, literally, into Christian’s office and is instantly attracted to the very handsome yet intimidating young man. She gasps and blushes and he watches with a slight smile. Christian is attracted to her as well and he pursues her with good deeds and expensive gestures. Grey is dark, secretive and composed in contrast to Ana’s fumbling, childlike innocence. And when I say innocence, I mean it in a very literal sense. Ana is a virgin and has barely been kissed. The scene has been set…..Grey is very, very dark and Ana is very, very innocent. Oh my!

But the course of true love never did run smooth. You see, Mr Grey is a Dominant and wishes Miss Steele to be his submissive. Within a short amount of time, he issues the breathless, swooning Ana with a detailed contract he wishes her to sign. She must agree to be his submissive if she wishes to pursue any kind of relationship with him. Grey has never had a relationship of any other kind and does not wish to do so now. He wants Ana but will not relent. For all her innocence, Ana manages not only to avoid signing the contract but to engage Grey in the previously unknown world of ‘vanilla’ sex. He breaks rule after rule for her.

In between all this chasing and contract negotiating there is sex. Lots and lots of sex. The pair cannot keep their hands off each other. He slowly introduces her to his world of BDSM via some very tame and light bondage. A little bit of spanking and one session in his fully decked out playroom. She introduces him to the world of sleeping the night together and cuddling. Ana is all goodness and light and will save the dark, tortured Christian from himself.

Yes, you are so right. We HAVE seen this all before. And very recently too. Maybe not the specifics but the general premise of this relationship is very, very familiar. 50 Shades of Grey started it’s life as Twilight fan fiction. Crap!

Okay, so here we go…..

There is nothing wrong with this book. It is not a bad book but it is not a good book either. The premise is a very interesting one and, in the hands of another more accomplished and/or knowledgeable writer, it could have been much, much better. I found it engaging, I must admit but that was mostly because it is a very easy read. When I asked friends who liked the book why they liked it, they unanimously agreed that it was because it was an easy to read love story.

That electric feeling between our star crossed lovers is something most of us love. Whether you are happily married, single, newly dating, whatever, we all yearn for that passion. The first days/weeks/months when you will do or say anything just to make your beloved happy. To have someone want us so badly that they put aside their own wishes to accommodate another person. Ahhhhhhhhh yes!

This brings me to the writing. Now, call me a harsh bitch but if you are going to put pen to paper and write an erotic novel….or three… then you had better be comfortable with references a little more specific than down ‘there’. Seriously. This woman is writing about a potential Dom/sub relationship, with a contract stating all types of sexual acts I am sure many people do not usually engage in, but she cannot find a suitable adjective….or three….for her vagina. This entire relationship will require honest and open communication but she fumbles over a few words. Crap!

It also bothers me this whole ‘good girl must save bad boy from his dark demons’ thing. Is it a coincidence his name is Christian and her name is Steele? It probably is, you know. I fear I am delving into depths that simply do not exist.

Why do women think they need to save bad boys? Why is BDSM being demonised? The relationship he proposes is built on trust and consent, he is very clear and particular about that. Safe words are established and he reminds her of them many times. She has, as all subs do, complete power over her situation. She can leave at any time. She chooses to stay. Why can she not just stay and see what happens rather than continually imposing her ideas and ideals onto him. I suppose if she did that, we wouldn’t have a story.

Or would we?

I would love to read this story without the moralising and the whole good triumphs over evil undertones. But I am someone who cut her teeth on Pauline Réage’s The Story of O and The Sleeping Beauty series by A. N. Roquelaure so perhaps my views are a little more left of centre.

But this good girl saving bad boy morality is exactly what has allowed this novel to go mainstream and sell its millions (or whatever) copies. Mommy porn as it has been dubbed. The kinky sex book all the girls can feel okay about reading. Sex shops and the like must be rubbing their hands together as these women order a riding crop and some silky soft ties.

Should you read this book? If you want an easy to read love story with an ever so slight edge to it, then go for it. I can absolutely see the appeal and as it is only $10 a book, why wouldn’t you read it? If you are expecting a real glimpse into the BDSM lifestyle, this book is not for you. I mean, was there ever any doubt? Oh there are some aspects that are spot on, most assuredly, but for the most part, this has been watered down and watered down to feed the masses.

Finally, I would like to see Ana’s subconscious and her inner goddess go outside and beat each other senseless. No safe words just duke it out. The constant references to these inner parts of her psyche were so annoying I wanted to scream. That and her constant holy crap and holy shits. Please *rolling my eyes*

Now I am off to read Fifty Shades Darker because why not? These books are such a pop culture phenomenon that I simply cannot resist. It’s just what I do….