#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · a-z author challenge 2018 · Australian · contemporary fiction · romance · rural fiction · small town

Throwback Thursday Book Review: The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns


Welcome to a weekly post, Throwback Thursday. This weekly book review post is a way to share some old favourites, books that were published over a year ago and most importantly those books that have been languishing on the to be read pile for far too long!

Synopsis:the road to hope small

Bestselling author Rachael Johns takes you back to Hope Junction and the characters from Jilted.

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.

My review:

Australian rural romance extraordinaire Rachael Johns, returns to the place of her first novel, Hope Junction, which initially featured in her debut novel, Jilted. The Road to Hope follows the journey of Lauren, a secondary character from Jilted. Lauren was a rather unlikable protagonist in Jilted, but Johns casts Lauren in a very different light in her 2015 release, The Road to Hope.

Leading the story in this Rachel Johns dazzler, The Road to Hope, is Lauren Simpson. Lauren has quite the reputation in Hope Junction and has been the prime target for unsavoury rumours circulating around town. Lauren is at breaking point and decides enough is enough, she must leave Hope Junction before it breaks her. Adding fuel to the fire is Lauren’s heartbreak over watching the man she desperately wanted to marry walk down the aisle to his happily ever after  – with someone else. However, as quickly as Lauren makes plans to leave Hope Junction, her move is blocked by the arrival of new locum doctor Tom Lewis. But Tom has his own issues, he is travelling around Australia filling in his time with locum positions in an effort to escape his own painful relationship breakdown and some more related personal issues. When Lauren and Tom cross paths, they are immediately attracted to one another. While Lauren seems afraid to delve into yet another fling that won’t go anywhere, Tom is also hesitant to commit to anything with Lauren. The two dance around one another, while those around them can’t understand why they won’t get their act together and give in to their desires! Hope Junction serves out a healthy dish of romance and new beginnings this time around.

Those who follow my reading habits, reviews and recommendations will not be shocked to learn that Rachael Johns is by far one of my favourite Australian authors. For reasons unknown to me, The Road to Hope, Johns 2015 rural romance release, has been hiding away on my sagging TBR shelf. An opportunity to finally read a classic Rachael Johns novel via a challenge I am completing with a bookworm friend, presented the perfect opportunity to indulge in a non review book read!

I will state clearly that although The Road to Hope is a sequel of sorts to Rachael John’s debut novel Jilted, it is not essential that you read Jilted before The Road to Hope. It reads perfectly well on its own. I read Jilted back on holiday a few years ago now and I adored it. It is understandable why Jilted kick started the career of Rachael Johns and why so many readers petitioned Johns to return once more to Hope Junction, the small community featured in her first novel.

Johns is so skilled in bringing to light the feelings and everyday experiences of living in small and isolated country community. It is like stepping into the shoes of a country dweller for a day when you read any rural based novel written by Johns. The Road to Hope illuminates the drawbacks, as well as the positive aspects of living in rural based Australian towns, such as Hope Junction.

What I loved most about The Road to Hope was the sense of redemption I felt the character of Lauren received. Painted in a negative light as the meddling and nasty nurse in Jilted, we get to see Lauren in a completely different light. Seeing Lauren in action in the job she clearly loves excels at and is devoted to, allowed me to view Lauren with an alternative lens. Johns pairs Lauren with a great hero and potential love interest. I liked Tom’s back story and I  also enjoyed unpacking his reasons for travelling around Australia to escape his past actions.

For those who love a spot of romance, The Road to Hope offers a finely tuned rural romance. This time around, instead of the romance being based on a city girl grappling with a country boy, it is almost the other way around. Lauren is a country girl through and through. Hope Junction runs through her blood and it is Tom who is almost the fish out of water. I liked the interplay between Tom and Lauren, their hesitations, the will they/won’t they scenario, the slow friends to lovers style romance and their eventual union.

Johns ensures that The Road to Hope is not simply passed over as a romance novel, it offers much more. In this engaging novel, Johns puts the spotlight on core rural based and Australian wide issues. These issues extend to; medical care in the country, aged care, serious illness, past mistakes and emotional baggage. I was impressed by the sensitivity and insight Johns dedicated to each of these subject areas.

The Road to Hope reminded me of why I continue to lap up very single Rachael Johns book I pick up with a sense of fervour . The Road to Hope represents a great addition to the Rachael Johns library. It is a book I highly recommend, especially to fans of Australian rural fiction.

The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns was published on 21st September 2015 by Harlequin – Mira. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Road to Hope, Rachael Johns, visit here.

The Road to Hope is book #58 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

*Book ‘J’ of the a-z author challenge 2018





2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday Book Review: The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns

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