Author: Rachael Johns
The Next Season takes readers back to Wildwood Point, where Johns introduced us to Hannah Elliot last Christmas. Time has soldiered on and we are just heading into the next season as the weather begins to cool and Hannah’s brother Shaun is nursing his broken heart.
Zoe Bennett grew up a child of the foster system and it was only in Wildwood Point with Sandee that she ever felt at home. Now that life has thrown her a curve ball or three she returns to Sandee and Wildwood Point, she knows there is always a place for her with Sandee and right now she really needs it. She’s newly unemployed and very nearly down to her last dollar.
As fate would have it she runs out of petrol just as she enters town and who should stop to offer assistance but high-school sweetheart Shaun Elliot.
I have one major issue with Rachael Johns novellas, and that is that they are novellas. 66 short pages to tell a whole story which is just never enough. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the whole story in 66 pages except that I always wish they were longer. I get to like the characters and I want to spend a little more time with them.
Set in Wildwood Point The Next Season takes us back to characters we have already met, we get a chance to see how things are going with Hannah and Matt and check back in with the Elliot family.
Zoe is a new character to us and she’s had a rough few months. Wildwood Point beckons as a place she can call home and get back on her feet, with the love and support of foster mother Sandee.
Shaun has had enough of everyone in town knowing the whole sordid story of his relationship breakdown, and having his ex still living in town, so it’s refreshing for him to have an old friend to spend time with who isn’t aware of all that happened, and didn’t have a front row seat.
Wildwood Point is a small town so the two find themselves running into one another, usually when Zoe is having a crisis. The history they share should make things awkward but many years have passed, and though Zoe broke Shaun’s teenage heart they have both suffered much more recent heartbreak that they are still overcoming, so that history forms a comfortable bond that allows them to open up to one another and share their pain.
In a short 66 pages Johns manages to give us context, conflict, steam and an emotional connection. I love the characters of Wildwood Point and I hope that we will get more stories set in the seaside town.
First love reunited is one of Johns favourite romance themes and I can understand why. It is always said that you never forget your first love, or your first heart break, so when the stars align and the time and place is right for a reunion it’s a beautiful thing. The characters have gone off and grown, matured and fate has brought them back together at a time when they are ready to really be together. It is a beautiful romance tale and one that screams of two people who are meant to be together, and Johns certainly writes it well.
The characters are likeable, realistic and three dimensional and the pet puppy is so ridiculously loveable that I can see him barreling through places and causing accidental mayhem.
Shaun seems to be a man who was born to settle down. After falling in love with Zoe as a teen and being ready to marry her young he is getting over a rejected marriage proposal when we meed him again seven years later. He is stable, centred, entrenched in the family business and not going anywhere. He comes from a happy and close knit family who are always there for one another, sometimes a little too close.
Zoe on the other hand spent her childhood farmed from family to family until she found Sandee, she has a wandering spirit prone to itchy feet which leaves her unable to stay in the one place for too long. Her ill-conceived rejection of Shaun was because she felt too young to settle down. She has had some heartbreak on her travels and wants the town she thinks of as home to help her recuperate and get back on her feet. Has she traveled the wanderlust from her system to end up back home and ready to settle down?
Some of the conflict was of the kind that makes me want to put my hands through the pages and throttle the pair of them for the miscommunications, or more often than not the lack of communication, about what’s actually going on in their heads.
If you want something light to wile away a summers afternoon, a short escape from the hectic time of year, then The Next Season is definitely worth picking up. Rachael Johns is a firm favourite in my bookcase these days and the Wildwood Point stories are not to be missed.
For more information and purchase links head over to Harlequin.
To get in touch with Rachael you can find her on social media platforms all over the net and she loves to hear from readers. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and RachaelJohns.com.