Review: Outback Secrets by Rachael Johns


Title: Outback Secrets {Bunyip Bay #5}

Author: Rachael Johns

Published: 27th October 2021, Mira

Status: Read October 2021 courtesy Harlequin Australia


My Thoughts:

I’m delighted to finally return to Bunyip Bay with Rachael Johns! Outback Secrets is her fifth rural romance set in the Western Australian community, and pairs publican Liam Castle, with agricultural aviator, Henrietta ‘Henri’ Forward.

Liam has been The Palace publican in Bunyip Bay for a decade, having arrived from Colorado in the wake of a tragedy. Though he’s privy to the many secrets of the community, no-one can claim to know his. When Henri, spending Christmas at the family farm, confides in him the need for a fake beau to distract her mother from nagging her to stay and settle down, Liam surprises both Henri and himself by agreeing to the plan.

Unsurprisingly, though delightfully so, real feelings quickly develop between Liam and Henri. Johns is adept at establishing chemistry between two characters and then deepening the relationship in a believable way as they learn more about one another. Liam and Henri complement each other well and their romance is fun and heartwarming.

It’s refreshing to have a heroine in a romance who actually isn’t all that interested in the traditional ‘happy ever after’ that leads to marriage and babies. A confident, independent woman, Henri loves her job as a pilot and I liked her passion for her chosen career.

Liam, who has played a minor background role in previous Bunyip Bay novels, is an appealing romantic hero, thoughtful, discrete and generous. The tragedy in his backstory is an unexpected element that introduces some sensitive subjects to the novel, including trauma, PTSD, grief, and suicide.

I was surprised to realise it’s been five years since the last Bunyip Bay book was published as the community and its characters all still feel very familiar. Though Outback Secrets can be read as a stand-alone, it’s a joy catch up with the lives of the couples who have featured in earlier novels including Faith and Monty (Outback Dreams), Ruby and Drew (Outback Blaze), Adam and Stella (Outback Ghost), and Frankie and Logan (Outback Sisters).

Outback Secrets is another engaging and charming story of romance, family and community, and I hope to visit Bunyip Bay again soon.


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