A rare species—an outback romance that fits squarely into the romance genre without losing its character. The setting is familiar but not intrusive, and the story navigates some very emotional territory.
This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.
It’s no secret that I love the idea of outback romance, but I’ve not had much luck finding authors who hit the right balance of romance, setting and character for me. With her new release, Jilted, published under Harlequin’s Mira imprint, Rachael Johns has become one of those rare authors.
Aussie soap star Ellie Hughes is persona non grata in her home town of Hope Junction. Ten years ago, she stood up her childhood sweetheart, Flynn, before going on to become a media sensation and household name.
Now she’s back, determined to care for her injured godmother even though she knows she’ll be walking into hostile territory. Flynn has never forgotten his childhood sweetheart—nor the kind of man he became when she left him standing at the altar. Neither has Hope Junction, and they’re going to make sure Ellie knows it.
Jilted is an outback romance with broad appeal. The setting never overshadows the characters, and the romance follows a familiar path without being too predictable. It feels like an extended Australian Superromance. The plot navigates some very emotional territory and, yes, it made me cry.
Johns also builds a strong cast of supporting characters. Even Ellie’s rival for Flynn’s affections isn’t just the bitchy wannabe girlfriend. Lauren has her own strengths and Johns doesn’t downplay these just to make Ellie more attractive in comparison.
The biggest issue I had with Jilted is that I just couldn’t buy into the big conflict at the end of the book. When Flynn discovers the real reason that Ellie left him, he accuses her of not trusting him enough to tell him what happened and to help her through it. This feels to me like an unbelievably selfish reaction to her revelation, and Flynn’s grand gesture to get Ellie back later can’t make up for him going on what amounts to an extended walkabout—and by the way, is it me or does this seem to be de rigueur for rural lit—while Ellie goes through probably some of the most painful days of her life.
But, you know, it’s a romance, and even if I skimmed through those 40-odd pages to get to the happy ending, I’m not going to complain. We should have more outback romances like this one. On her website, Johns writes that the presence of secondary characters and plots were letting down her submissions to category romance. I’m glad she took the risk of writing this book, and I’m even more glad that Harlequin Australia is actively acquiring well-written, locally set stories such as these.
Yay or nay?
Jilted is a rare species—an outback romance that fits squarely into the romance genre without losing its character. The setting is familiar but not intrusive, and the story navigates some very emotional territory. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a good read.
Who might enjoy it: Romance readers who like variety in characters and settings
Who might not enjoy it: Rural lit readers who prefer the outback to be centre stage
A copy of this book was generously provided by Harlequin Australia.
AUSTRALIA: Booktopia | Fishpond | Harlequin (publisher) | Romance Direct | Other
EBOOKS: Books On Board | Booku | Diesel | eBooks.com | Kindle UK | Kindle US
WORLDWIDE: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository | Library