Review: How To Mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns


Title: How To Mend a Broken Heart

Author: Rachael Johns

Published: 5th May 2021, HQ Fiction

Status: Read May 2021 courtesy Harlequin/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

“Sometimes what you think is going to be the most painful time of your life, simply turns out to be the storm before the rainbow.”

Readers familiar with The Art of Keeping Secrets will recognise How To Mend a Broken Heart’s main protagonist, Felicity Bell. It’s been four years since her divorce after Felicity found she couldn’t reconcile the changes in their relationship wrought by her husband’s gender transition. Though the two have remained friends, and Flick is supportive of Sofia, she struggles with the continual reminders of the life she has lost. When an unexpected opportunity arises for taxidermist Felicity to take three month position at Bourbon Street Taxidermy Art, a small store in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans, she seizes the chance, hoping to spend some time focusing on herself.

How To Mend A Broken Heart explores the themes of heartbreak, self discovery and moving on as Felicity learns to let go of the past and explore new possibilities. I thought Johns portrayal of the complicated relationship Flick has with her ex to be sensitive and honest. Johns portrayal of Flick’s struggle to trust in love again is sincere and poignant as the protagonist’s romantic relationship blooms with Theo, the handsome owner of the bar that neighbours the taxidermy store.

Felicity is just beginning to find her feet in New Orleans when her daughter unexpectedly appears on her doorstep. Zoe’s husband of four years has left her after confessing to an affair and, and she is devastated by her childhood sweetheart’s betrayal. Zoe too is now confronted with the challenge of recovering from heartbreak and forging a new life for herself. It’s easy to sympathise with Zoe whose faith in love, and herself, is shattered. She makes a mistake or two in her effort to forget the anguish, taking advantage of the French Quarter’s nightlife, but at least one turns out to be quite serendipitous.

Johns introduces the elderly Aurelia Harranibar, a cantankerous, reclusive local artist whose own life has been marred by her inability to move on from the loss of her sweetheart. Modelled on the Charles Dickens character Miss Havisham, Miss H lives alone in a decaying mansion in the New Orleans Garden District. When she is accidentally injured during a visit to the taxidermy store, Zoe, an aspiring artist herself, volunteers to assist Miss H at home and forges a sweet relationship with the eccentric old woman. Miss H becomes a key figure in the story, not only serving as an  example of what failing to accept the demise of a relationship and move on could look like, but her past also introduces a thread of mystery as Zoe tries to determine what really happened to the artist’s lover.

It’s New Orleans, arguably America’s most haunted locale, so there is no surprise that Johns includes a tiny hint of the supernatural in the story. Zoe believes Miss H’s house is haunted by more than the artist’s sadness. I enjoyed accompanying the characters on a ghost tour of the city, and learning of the tragedy of ‘The Casket Girls’. Felicity’s unusual occupation also plays well into the mystique of the city, which the author describes vividly, and with obvious affection for all of its atmosphere and eccentricities, despite its darker side.

How To Mend a Broken Heart is a heartfelt and entertaining novel set in a vibrant location, sure to have wide appeal.


Available from Harlequin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn
    May 14, 2021 @ 15:34:09

    I really enjoyed it too, Rachael Johns is proving herself as a versatile writer.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. sydneyeditor1
    May 16, 2021 @ 21:38:27

    I have a coy of this for review, but have been unsure of what to expect. I like the location , and the author seems to be great at juggling emotional stories of different women.

    Liked by 1 person


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  4. Laurel-Rain Snow
    May 17, 2021 @ 22:07:43

    I have a Rachael Johns book on my nightstand (Flying the Nest) and hope to read it soon. This one sounds really good, so It’s going on my list. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Trackback: Romance Round Up: May 2021 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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