I am thrilled to welcome Rachael Johns back to Book’d Out today to promote her newest release from Harlequin, Outback Dreams. I am a huge fan of this West Australian author who writes well crafted contemporary rural romance featuring appealing characters and an engaging story. Jilted (June 2012) and Man Drought (January 2013) were wonderful reads, as is Outback Dreams.
Faith and Monty are both looking for love…but they’re looking in the wrong direction. Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. And she wants to find a man…?? For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. But there’s still something missing…??
So when Faith embarks on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both. Until a drunken night out ends with them sleeping together. Suddenly, the best friends are faced with a new load of challenges.. Monty and Faith are both ready to find a life partner and settle down, but have they both been looking in all the wrong places?
My review will be posted later today, but I am pleased to first share with you a special insight into the heartwarming story of Outback Dreams. Read on…
Why I wrote about Autism in Outback Dreams
Firstly a HUGE thanks to Shelleyrae for having me back on the fabulous Book’d Out blog. I’m delighted to be sharing a little bit about the inspiration for my latest contemporary romance – OUTBACK DREAMS, which is out now with Harlequin Australia.
OUTBACK DREAMS is a friends to lovers story about farmer’s daughter Faith Forrester and wannabee farmer Daniel (Monty) Montgomery. This book is primarily a romance so the main plot revolves around these two characters and their journey as they realise they are meant to be together, however, there are other characters and secondary plots that also feature.
One such character is Will Montgomery, Monty’s younger brother who is autistic. Monty harbours secret resentment towards his brother and his parents because the family farm, which he adored and wanted to inherit one day, was sold when he was a child so his family could move closer to medical help for Will. Although he feels guilty for his feelings, they have caused him to keep his distance from his brother and parents for many years now. There is a hole in his heart which he believes can be fulfilled by achieving his dream of buying and running his own farm. This is a dream he has been working towards for as long as he can remember.
He’s prickly whenever anyone mentions his brother or autism, so when his best friend Faith announces she is throwing a charity ball to raise money for Dogs For Autism (**see footnote) he tries hard to pretend to be supportive and enthusiastic. As the story unravels Monty is forced to spend more time with his brother and admit to Faith his resentment. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens, but there are a number of reasons I chose to write a secondary character with Autism.
1) I have taught autistic children in my previous life as a teacher and I felt a kind of affinity with them. To me they are such fascinating people with so much to offer if we only embrace their differences! I wanted to highlight this.
2) I have a good friend whose daughter has autism and I know how big a task it is to make sure she is receiving the best therapies and getting the right care in order to make sure she can interact and socialize with others. This got me thinking about how a diagnosis of autism affects a whole family, not just an individual.
3) My own son was tested for autism last year and this was a hugely emotional process for all of us – including his brothers, who may not have known what was going on but felt the anxiety and tension in our household. Although he was eventually cleared of autism, he does show a number of characteristics of people on the autism spectrum and I think many of these characteristics are what make him special.
At the time I was brainstorming a new book, number three was going on and I was doing a lot of reading around autism and Aspergers, so it is perhaps not surprising that Will Montgomery came into my head. I hope I wrote him as a very positive person.
Faith adores him and is proud of how far he’s come in his life so far, which is why she wants to pay tribute to him and chooses an autism-related charity to fundraise for. And it is ultimately Will’s growth as a person through the course of the book that forces Monty to look at his own life and realise he’s not living it to his full potential.
One of my aims with OUTBACK DREAMS was to show that whatever infliction life throws at you, it is how you deal with these things that make or break you. Will is a very positive character in the book and the message I hope to bring to readers is that labels do not make a person. It is what is inside, how someone reacts to life’s challenges that makes them who they are.
**I would also like to mention that while Dogs for Autism (the charity in the book) is a fictional organisation, there are organisations like this one throughout the world, which raise and train assistance dogs for kids with disabilities. One in Australia is the fabulous Righteous Pups (http://www.righteouspups.org.au), which I learnt about when I had an autistic child in my class a few years back.
I hope that should you decide to read OUTBACK DREAMS, you will enjoy the romance and also find the secondary plots authentic and uplifting.
Learn more about Outback Dreams and Rachel Johns
Outback Dreams is available to purchase from
Thanks to Morey Media
1 print edition of Outback Dreams to giveaway
**Open to Australian Residents only**
Entries Close October 13th, 2013
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