Review: Man Drought by Rachael Johns

@ Goodreads

Title: Man Drought

Author: Rachael Johns

Published: HarlequinAU January 2013

Synopsis: Imogen Bates moved to the small rural town of Gibson’s Find to start a new life for herself after the death of her husband. Tired of being haunted by the painful memories of her old life, Imogen set her last remaining hopes on the little town and, in particular, pouring her heart and savings into restoring The Majestic Hotel to its former glory. But while the female-starved town might be glad to see a young woman move in, not everyone is happy about Imogen’s arrival.  Sheep and crop farmer Gibson Black once dreamed of having the kind of family his grandfather reminisces about, but he’s learnt not to dream anymore. Living in the mostly male town suits Gibson down to the ground…and he won’t have anyone — least of all a hot redhead from the city — change a thing. Imogen has never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it concerns her last chance at happiness. She’s determined to rebuild the pub and create a future for the little town. But can she create a future for Gibson and herself, too? Read a chapter

Status: Read from December 22 to 28, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harlequin Australia}

My Thoughts:

As I enjoyed Jilted, Rachael John’s debut contemporary rural romance novel published in 2012, I have been eagerly awaiting her next release and I am pleased to report that I found Man Drought a charming and delightful read.

After her husband’s death, Imogen Bates decides to escape the city and begin a new life in the small Western Australian country town of Gibson’s Find, becoming the sole owner of The Majestic Hotel. The town is happy to welcome Imogen who is content to pour her heart and soul into revitalising the pub, and with it the community, but Gibson Black isn’t so sure change is a good thing, especially when Imogen threatens to turn his whole world upside down.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the main protagonists of Man Drought. Imogen proves to be determined and feisty, but vulnerable in her grief over the death of her husband. I really liked the way in which the author allowed Imogen to slowly work out her growing feelings for Gibson, without ignoring the very real emotions and contradictions inherent in such a situation.

Gibson had to work a little harder to earn my affection given the giant chip on his shoulder, a result of his own failed marriage, but I was immediately attracted to his physical portrait,
“He was tall with liquorice dark hair and a two day growth along his jawline. He wore faded jeans and a flannelette shirt rolled up to his elbows.” This being a romance Gibson is, of course, hiding a heart of gold behind his gruff exterior and with the care he takes of his grandfather and his respect for Imogen’s confused emotional state he quickly redeems himself.

The chemistry between Imogen and Gibson is terrific with Johns building the tension between the pair so that when they finally succumb to their mutual attraction it’s an explosive scene, only to repeat the process as their relationship stumbles.

One of John’s strengths is her ability to create a community among the pages of her book with appealing and authentic supporting characters. Imogen’s employees and patrons evoke both the peculiarities and spirit of the residents in small rural towns. It is Charlie that nearly steals the show though as Imogen’s surprising confidante. A grizzly man of the land, yet a romantic at heart, Gibson’s grandfather gives the story an unexpected depth as he battles with a failing memory and the enduring pain of his own long ago loss.
Imogen’s city friends round out her past nicely and I liked the way in which they interacted with Imogen’s new life. Jenna and Guy provide an enjoyable secondary romantic subplot with their culture clash proving to be no obstacle to true love (and lust). I also have to applaud Johns for the subtle development of the relationship between Pauli and Cal, I was both surprised and pleased by it’s inclusion in the novel, given the traditional genre constraints of romance fiction.

Like Imogen I have always admired old fashioned country Australian pubs with their wide verandah’s and graceful facades so I found the setting particularly appealing and thought Johns captured the details beautifully. The novel is well grounded in rural Australia but Johns also brought country and city together with the modernisation of the pub, the intermingling of Imogen’s friends with the locals and the idea of the Man Drought weekend.

I thought the writing very accomplished, in many ways each of the main elements of the story – plot, character and setting, are much stronger in Man Drought than in Jilted. I enjoyed John’s humour and the way in which she captures the natural rhythm of Australian speech in her dialogue. The pacing is just right and all the threads lead to a happy and satisfying conclusion.

Man Drought is a heartwarming, well crafted contemporary romance with appealing characters and engaging story and Rachael Johns is proving herself to be one of my favourite rural romance novelists.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 20:26:50

    Sound like a wonderful novel. Congratulations, Rachael!

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    Reply

  2. Marg
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 07:28:32

    I really enjoyed this when I read it while I was on holidays! I really appreciated the build up of the relationship and Imogen’s determination to move on without letting go of the past completely.

    Good review today Shelleyrae!

    Like

    Reply

  3. Teddyree
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 10:29:39

    I thought this one was delightful, lovely review too 🙂

    Like

    Reply

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