Book Review: Outback Sisters

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Author: Rachael Johns
ISBN: 9781760374204
RRP: $29.99

The latest book in the Bunyip Bay series releases later this month, I couldn’t wait for release date so requested a copy from NetGalley as soon as it went up and slipped it into my schedule.

Bunyip Bay is a town I have grown to love, with characters who are like old friends, so any chance I have to head over and see how they’re all going is going to be jumped at.

Originally this series was slated for three books but a major fan outpouring of support saw Rachael head back to the Bay for another book, here’s hoping she will do it again.

Outback Sisters is different from the other Bunyip Bay books in that we have two leading ladies, and two leading men. Two sisters, and two brothers. I have to say I was a little sceptical about how this would all come together but I think Johns has pulled it off beautifully. Yes, there were some pretty predictable plotlines but there were also some super surprises.

Frankie and Simone are sisters and best friends, they’ve always had each others back and been through more than their share of heartbreak together.

Simone lost the love of her life early, leaving her a single mother of two young girls – now teens. She has been on her own almost a decade and is a little apprehensive of putting herself out the again, she’s only ever been with one man and that was a long time ago.

Frankie thinks it’s safer to stay away from men after the heartbreak she’s already suffered and her habit of falling for Mr Wrong. She has her cafe, her sister and two gorgeous nieces.

outback sisters

A case of mistaken identity starts a rollercoaster of events that catches that might just tear two families apart…

There were so many important aspects of this book that it’s hard to know what to focus on.

Logan shares the family farm with his brother and sister though big brother Angus is the one living and working their full-time and he will not even entertain the idea of a wind farm on their land, which is something Logan is considering. Wind Farms are quite topical at the moment, even I have heard talk about them and I usually avoid the news. Johns integrates quite a bit of detail about wind farms in the book which I found to be interesting reading and give a new perspective. I had only thought of them in terms of an energy source, I hadn’t thought of the income source for farmers.

Harriet, she’s a prickly teen but she’s a well drawn character and I loved that everyone could see she’s a basically good kid underneath the terrible teen (much worse than the terrible twos). The interaction that stands out the most for me is an argument she has with Simone, one of many, where it’s all Simone’s fault she split up with her boyfriend. This may seem like a ridiculous argument, and completely illogical, but I remember having almost that exact same argument as a 16yr old so it made me giggle a little.

Our leads, all four of them, have suffered more than their fair share of tragedy and they are all still relatively young. It has shaped a lot of their attitudes and goes a long way to explaining why they are all still single. They have different reasons but they can all be traced back to the trauma they’ve already faced. These characters have lost a lot in their lives and how many times can  you risk more heartbreak before you decide that’s enough.

Grace has an interesting storyline and it is very well written, and a great reminder. The well adjusted child who is no trouble at all is sometimes not as well adjusted as they seem. It can be easy to miss warning signs and then be taken completely by surprise because there seems to have been no warning, until you start to reflect and look back because once you have all the info you sometimes look back and notice things you didn’t register before.

Outback Sisters was an interesting read and a compelling premise. I loved watching it unfold though there were moments that I was left wondering how Johns was going to get us through this one.

I have recently returned from a holiday in my original hometown with my family so am still feeling a little homesick, and I am going to blame that for the choked up moments I had. There were times that the sibling relationships in this story brought me to the brink of waterworks because of the close bonds they share. I was also left wondering if that ever so close bond was really as close as they thought and if it would survive the bitterness brewing.

Rachael Johns has done it again, she’s presented a compelling story that takes us back to Bunyip Bay, a town full of friends that I was more than happy to visit with. I love being able to peek back into their lives and see where everyone is at. Now to convince her to write another.

Yes, this is a Bunyip Bay book but I think there is enough info in there that you could read it on its own.

Outback Sisters is book #7 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.

Rachael Johns can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her Website.

Outback Sisters is available through Harlequin and from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

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