Jilted by Rachael Johns ****`
Four and a half stars. So what can I say about this gem of a story. They call it 'chook lit' as the aussi version of Chicklit which reminds me of a very confused German exchange student when I was a child asking what a 'chook' was. I reckon it's a great little romance and a lovely snapshot of country town living in rural Australia.
This book had it all, the footie on Saturday arvo, the gossipy hairdresser, the CWA crafts and cooking, the local pub. All very familiar to those of us living or having lived in outback Australia.
The story of Flynn and Ellie is a classic reunion of two young people in love who don't quite know how to cope when things go wrong. Ellie ran, leaving Flynn humiliated and bewildered. On the surface she made a success of her life, becoming a famous soapie star beloved by all Australia, except in her home town of Hope Junction.
Flynn didn't deal so well, making some poor choices in his grief and anger. But all is well now to all appearances, though he is still a bachelor, having taken over the farm after his father's death.
When Ellie's only real family member, Matilda, needs her support after an injury, Ellie knows she has to do the right thing, even if it means facing the townsfolk, and Flynn, after ten years.
When the two former lovers meet, it is obvious that they are kindred spirits though Ellie is determined her stay is temporary and Flynn is equally convinced that Ellie is off limits.
The dangling of another woman in Flynn's life at this point was entirely too stressful for me. I don't cope well with those potentially lethal plot elements and it trickled on quite a way through the book. If I was Flynn's auntie at that point I would have clipped him under the ear and told him think about what he was doing in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately much as I would love to live in Hope's Junction, I don't and had to chew my fingernails, watching helplessly as disaster seemed only a drink or two away.
Flynn and Ellie really had to work for their happy ending, and there were moments when I really wondered if I was reading a classic HEA romance because there was an element of Nicholas Sparkes, almost inevitably doomed relationship thing, happening now and then. There is probably a reason why I keep my angst reading to categories under 200 pages generally. The dark parts of their mutual and separate history make for some heartbreaking reading.
Now all this being said. In spite of my angst and nail biting and stressed out hand wringing, I loved this book. If I hadn't been totally engaged and loving the characters I wouldn't have cared what they did and whether they got their happily ever after.
Flynn is just gorgeous and Ellie is such a sweetie you want them so much to overcome the tragedies of the past. They are so real you could just about touch them, with flaws and fears and little quirks that endear rather than irritate.
The setting of Hope Junction is beautifully and lovingly drawn and for those of you who haven't ever been there, presents an accurate if rather rose coloured portrait of a town that could exist anywhere in Rural Australia.
Now I have a special give-away for one person who comments on this blog.
I was fortunate enough to get a second copy of Jilted at the recent RWAus12 conference at the Gold Coast. I got it signed by Rachael and will ship it anywhere that doesn't cost a fortune. Luna residents please take note.