Published January 1, 2013 by Harlequin Australia
Paperback, 365 pages – I own a copy
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?
A couple of years after the death of her husband, Imogen Bates recognises she is stuck in a rut and needs a change. What better way to escape the oppressive city filled with memories of her late Husband then to move to the country and buy an old run down pub? With her friends believing she’s lost the plot, Imogen sets out on her new adventure knowing full well that it won’t be a walk in the park, but insistent that she can handle it. What she hasn’t bargained for however was the male dominated town and an increasingly attractive, and simultaneously infuriating, Gibson Black.
Although set in the country, the narrative itself is more at the rural romance end of the scale to rural fiction and thus perfect for the converted title of Chook Lit within the genre of rural fiction. The characters are playful and energetic, and the story is well paced and flows easily – sometimes too easily, so much so that before you know it you find yourself lost in story and you’ve reached the end of the book.
Keeping with the genre, Imogen is a feisty female protagonist who is sure to pull at the reader’s heartstrings. Although not perfect, she is easily accepted by the reader and the town due to her charming personality and her eager need to please. She is hard working and will stop at nothing to get what she feels need to be done. Gibson, on the other hand takes a bit more time to warm up to due to his stand off nature and past experiences. That said, the tension between the two characters is palpable, and quickly builds as the story progresses, sweeping both the characters and the reader off their feet and into a whirlpool of emotion and romance.
Johns’ use of description and setting is second to none, with her writing so vivid and tangible that I almost felt as though I was watching the narrative play out before my eyes. Although set in the fiction town of Gibson’s Find, Johns captures the very heart of rural Australia and delivers the very essence of every day life that is common throughout small towns. The supporting characters were loud, and created the perfect blend of society and narrative release for our main characters. Charlie, Gibson’s beloved Grandfather was a show stealer in particular and I challenge any reader to not feel for the old man. As for our leads, I could sense the growing tension between our protagonists, and felt each characters excitement and pain in equal measures. I was so involved in the story and their lives that I was disappointed to find myself closing the book at the end. That’s not to say the book ends too quickly, or unsatisfactory, it’s just I was so there with the characters, that once it ended it was almost as though I had been thrown back to reality in a cruel manner and it no longer measured up. If you’re a fan of romance, I urge you to give this book a go, for you will not be disappointed. Who knows, you might just be like me and find yourself wishing for you very own Gibson Black to claim …
Read as part of the Australian Women’s Writer’s Challenge 2013
And included in my Romance Appreciation Challenge.