Book Review: Jilted by Rachael Johns




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 Where is the outdated, PG and a tad boring storytelling?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.

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