Author: Rachael Johns
Talk of the Town is the latest release by the talented Rachael Johns, her tenth print book for Harlequin; a return to small town rural roots that are what made me fall in love with her work.
Meg is running from her past and looking for a fresh start, far away from anyone that may recognise her. She took on a place in the deserted town of Rose Hill, thinking that she was the only resident. It seemed like a perfect place to regroup and there were enough jobs to be done around the house to keep her busy.
Lawson Cooper-Jones is a young widow whose two great loves in life are the family dairy farm and his eight-year old son Ned. He has been trudging through life with the support of his sister, the love of his son and the support of their small town community. His heart still well and truly captured by his late wife.
A flat tyre stops Lawson and Ned in Rose Hill where an entertaining (for me anyway) and unexpected first meeting creates a shift for both Lawson and Meg.
Alternating chapters follow Lawson and Meg in their everyday lives and allow us an insight into their thoughts, and the people around them… well around Lawson anyway, Meg is quite isolated.
One of the minor plotlines had me intrigued, and unfortunately left me wanting a little more. The first thing Meg is told in her impromptu meeting with Ned and Lawson is about her house being haunted. Of course the adults scoff at the thought, and then Meg starts sensing things in the house.
Meg spends some time researching the history of the house to try and discover it’s secrets. This element fascinated me and I loved the discoveries they made, I just wish there had been a little more closure of this part of the story.
Johns has addressed some very topical issues in this one; from the dairy crisis to the drug problem this one is going to touch the hearts of many. It’s a story of fresh starts, forgiveness and the long road back from addiction.
The lead characters are interesting and multi-faceted, they made me want the best for them and by a third of the way through I was formulating theories, and scared stiff about what would come of them. The deeper into the story we traveled, the more I worried.
The secondary characters were also something special and I would love to see where they end up. Lawson was supported through his grief by his younger sister Tab, a positive and endearing character with challenges of her own. She has suffered hardship in her life and refuses to let it define her, she took the cards she was dealt and made the most of it and I couldn’t help but admire her strength.
Adeline on the other hand is a secondary character that inspired animosity but when I think about her now, after finishing the book and spending the day thinking on it, she reminds me of Lauren from Hope Junction a little and I think she could be redeemed.
Talk of the Town brings together the best and the worst of small town life, the gossip and the meddling but also the support and sense of coming home.
This is another stellar read which I unreservedly loved and my only issue is the lack of closure on the historical aspect of the house. I would love to come back to these characters and explore their future a little better. I would love to see Tab get her happy ever after and check in on some of the other residents of Walsh, actually I would also be interested to see if they can bring some life back to neighbouring Rose Hill. A fabulous read that will tug the heartstrings and have you falling in love with a precocious young man, and a fluffy pup.
Talk of the Town is book #17 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.
Thanks to Harlequin Mira 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Talk of the Town so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I look forward to hearing what they think.