Published: 1st June, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA Australia
After more than ten years away, Australian soap star Ellie Hughes returns to the small country town of Hope Junction, determined to remain anonymous while caring for her injured godmother, Matilda.
But word spreads fast in the tight-knit community. It isn’t long before the people of Hope are gossiping about the real reason for Ellie’s visit and why she broke the heart of golden boy Flynn Quartermaine all those years ago.
Soon Ellie and Flynn are thrown back together again, forced to deal with the unresolved emotions between them. For Ellie is not the only one with secrets. Flynn has his own demons to battle, and Matilda is hiding something from her much-loved goddaughter.
When all is uncovered, can the ill-fated lovers overcome the wounds of their past? Or is Flynn destined to be jilted again?
Jilted by Rachael Johns has always been a book I wanted to read. I purchased it not too long after it released to rave reviews and yet for some reason that I can’t really explain, it always sat as the second book on my TBR pile. I read most of Johns other books prior to reading this one, and it wasn’t until the release of The Road To Hope that I picked Jilted up and finally sat down to read it. I finished the book in one sitting and really wished I’d read it earlier.
Given the high praise awarded to this book, and my own previous experiences with Johns other books (Man Drought, The Kissing Season, Outback Dreams, Outback Ghost, Outback Blaze) I came to this book with high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. Although I found the start of the book slow, I couldn’t stop reading and before long I was 110% invested in the characters and the fictional town of Hope Junction.
Ellie Hughes is a successful TV Soap Star who returns to Hope Junction to look after her injured Godmother Matilda, the woman who basically raised her. Although she loves Mattie with all her heart, returning to Hope Junction does not rate high on the list of things she’d like to do. Especially not after her speedy departure some ten years earlier left her childhood sweetheart Flynn Quartermaine standing at the alter, alone. At the end of the day, she reigns in every ounce of bravery and courage she has and returns to Hope Junction to look after Matilda, and Matilda only, for she knows the town will not look kindly on her now.
The last person Flynn Quartermaine ever expected to see about town again is Ellie Hughes. He hasn’t seen her since she broke his heart and left him high and dry at the alter, with the entire town witnessing his heartache and embarrassment. Thanks to the bush telegraph, he’d been forewarned that she would be coming back for a short time. He’d planned on staying on his property until she left once again, because she would leave again, that much he was certain. It seems that Fate has other plans, and through a series of events the pair are thrown together and left to deal with unresolved feelings and anger. But can time heal all wounds or will too much water have passed under that particular bridge?
When I started to read Jilted, I wasn’t expecting to be taken in by the story in quite the manner I was. Our two main protagonist are bitter and hurt, still nursing old wounds from the conflict of ten years ago and neither wants to be in town together. Ellie is closed off and wary of the townspeople who would run her out of town with pitchforks given half a chance, and is surprised when Flynn offers her a branch of forgiveness. For he is the last person she ever expected such an offer to ever come from. Unknown to Ellie however, is the deeper scars that Flynn bares from the days following Ellie’s retreat; secrets he’d rather take to the grave then let Ellie know about and the real reason the town is set so hard set against Ellie.
Despite the darker themes in Jilted – neglect, rape, illness and alcoholism – Johns is able to offer love and hope to the its reader through its merry band of characters. Johns appears to have a natural ability to bring a narrative to life through the mere presence of some of her characters who are both strong willed and country proud, but loveable and delightful at the same time. The secondary characters in this narrative are just as likely to steal your heart as the hero and heroine, and while they may hide behind the scenes for much of it, they are always close, watching and judging as only concerned friends and family can do. Matilda for one is endearing character, who I think many may recognise in their own mother figure or grandmother. She has a heart of gold, quick whit and a beautiful nature that makes her easy to fall in love with.
Jilted made me laugh and brought me tears, all the while allowing me to harbour the hope that love, and redemption, is just around the corner. It’s the kind of book that is easy to read, highly entertaining and superbly written with a unique take on the run away bride stereotype. Johns has a knack for capturing the compassion and passion that small towns thrive upon, and feeding that life and energy effortlessly into her narrative and characters. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good romance, rural narratives, or just wants an escape from reality for a bit. Just do yourself a favour, and don’t wait almost three years to read the book like I did!
I’m off now to read the sequel, The Road To Hope, which is Lauren’s story and is out now!
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