Work Wives. Rachael Johns

The Work Wives

Published: Harlequin Australia
Date:  3rd November 2022
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

For work wives Debra and Quinn, it’s a case of opposites attract. They are each other’s lifelines as they navigate office politics and jobs that pay the bills but don’t inspire them.

Outside work, they are also friends, but where Quinn is addicted to dating apps and desperate to find love, Deb has sworn off men. Although Deb is not close to her own mother, her teenage daughter is her life and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to protect her. But Ramona has other ideas and is beginning to push boundaries.

Life becomes even more complicated by the arrival of a new man at the office. One woman is attracted to him, while the other hoped she’d never meet him again.

But when Deb, Quinn and Ramona are forced to choose between friends, love and family, the ramifications run deeper than they could ever have expected.

Work Wives is Rachael Johns latest novel. It explores the lives of Deb and Quinn, two women who work at the same place. They are great mates, in spite of age difference, and can rely on each other.

Debra is the very responsible mother of Ramona, who at fifteen is negotiating friendships, school life with its challenges of girls who can be rather mean. Ramona finds though that good friends exist. She is also dealing with the fact she’d like to know who her father is.

But Debra has a few secrets, well one main one and it’s about to disrupt all their lives. It didn’t take long to work out what had happened and what might be going on.

I liked the characters on the whole, however for me this was just a little over the top and maybe a little too well all tied up.  It felt just too long to me as well.  I did want to know how it all worked out and found myself happy for the way it did.


Keeping Up Appearances. Tricia Stringer

Keeping Up Appearances

Published: Harlequin Australia
Date: 5th October 2022
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Privacy is hard to maintain in Badara, the kind of small Australian country town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. So discovers single mum Paige when she and her three children arrive from the city seeking refuge. Paige’s only respite from child care and loneliness is the Tuesday gym club, where she had feared the judgement of the town matriarchs. 

Well-to-do farmer’s wife and proud mother Briony is in full denial of her family’s troubles. Even with her eldest daughter’s marriage in ruins and her son Blake’s recent bombshell. Suddenly Briony and husband Vince have a full house again – and the piles of laundry aren’t the only dirty linen that’s about to be aired.

For Marion, the unearthing of a time capsule – its contents to be read at the Celebrate Badara weekend – is a disaster. She was only a teenager when she wrote down those poisonous words, but that doesn’t mean she won’t lose friends and family if they hear what she really thinks of them – especially as the letter reveals their darkest secrets to the world.

Keeping Up Appearances  by Tricia Stringer was for me a delightful, engaging read. It is set in rural Australia and a small community.

There is single parent Paige who has arrived with her three children to make a new start. She is not well off and everything is a bit of a struggle. However by various means she finds herself eventually very involved with the community.

Briony and Vince find themselves with their three adult children at home. And all three of them bring various kinds of headaches for Briony, who is very much all about keeping up appearances.

Marion (Vince’s sister) and Len have two adult children but they live far away. Marion is a retired school teacher and Vince still works the farm although he is nearing seventy. A time capsule is about to make its presence felt and Marion suffers much from it.

The story lines were engaging and I loved all the characters, those mentioned above and those I haven’t. They are ordinary, flawed human beings dealing with issues that are challenging. They keep secrets, some people gossip, some find it hard to accept that life is not going to turn out as they had hoped. Tricia Stringer guides them along, and as a result I felt compassion for each and delight when they stretched and grew.


Becoming Beth. Meredith Appleyard

book cover

Published: Harlequin Australia
Date: 7th September 2022
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Since adolescence, 58-year-old Beth has lived her life with blinkers on, repressing the memory of a teenage trauma. Her mother, Marian, took control of that situation, and of all else in their family life – and as much as she could in the small town of Miner’s Ridge as well.

Now Marian is dead, and Beth, unemployed and in the middle of a humiliating divorce, is living with her gentle-hearted father in the family home. Beth feels obliged to take over her mother’s involvement in the local town hall committee, which becomes a source of new friendships, old friendships renewed, and a considerable amount of aggravation.

Researching town hall history, Beth finds photographs that show Marian in a surprising light; sorting through Marian’s belongings, she realises that her mother has left a trail of landmines, cruel revelations that knock the feet out from under her supposed nearest and dearest. Beth struggles to emerge from the ensuing emotional chaos … in middle age, can she really start anew?

Beth has returned home, and at present is living with her elderly Dad, after the death of her mother. Becoming Beth by Meredith Appleyard begins languidly in the post pandemic era in Miner’s Ridge, Australia. It presents Beth in a bit of a rut, her marriage has fallen through, her husband left her for a younger man and now divorced, Beth is forced to start asking herself a few questions.

She slowly finds herself becoming a part of the local community and makes some good friends. On the town hall committee she becomes part of a hard working team who want to keep the town hall alive so that it can be used by the community. It needs a new roof and that means a lot of fund raising.

Beth has a back story that eats away at her and it feels to her that there is at present no resolution. Step by step though she is facing it and finding the ability to share about it with some significant people.  She begins to pick up her life again, finding purpose in some work and the possibility of a new relationship.

I liked the characters, although not really Beth’s mother, even though at the opening of the book she has died. It is her part that has been at the root of difficult situations. Beth’s dad though is someone special.

Beth is on her way to finding her feet again, I did feel the book ends rather abruptly, I felt it could have been rounded out a little more but that’s probably a debatable point.


A Family of Strangers. Fiona Lowe

book cover

Published:  Harlequin Australia
Date: 2nd March 2022
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

With a coveted promotion dangling within reach, the last thing Addy Topic needs to do is waste precious time singing in Rookery Cove’s choir. But when she’s reminded how much music meant to her late mother, she can’t say no. The building pressure raises the ghosts that sent her running from Rookery Cove years earlier – memories she’s spent decades hiding from, silencing them with work, alcohol and sex.

For Stephanie Gallagher, Rookery Cove was meant to be a new beginning in the slow lane. A place where she and her husband can embrace community, parenthood and evenly share the load. But the sea-change is changing everything. How much longer can they survive as a family?

Brenda Lambeck is finding her feet after the death of her husband when her best friend convinces her to join the choir. Beloved as a grandmother, Brenda is determined to mend the fraught relationship she has with her daughter, Courtney. But is that even possible when she continues to lie?

In the wake of a spectacular betrayal, three women are forced to face the uncompromising truths about the choices that have shaped their relationships with those they love most. The consequences will shatter their lives and all they hold dear. After such a disaster is rebuilding even possible?

Australian author Fiona Lowe has done it again. She has totally reeled me in and made me feel so fully involved in the lives of her characters. At first I found all the characters and situations a little overwhelming, but once I was in – I was in! A little bit of reader concentration and work never hurts us!

The story is told from three women’s point of view. They all live in a small town in Tasmania and while they start out not very linked, its not long before they are all interacting and enabling each other to work through the challenges facing each of them.

Addy has returned to the Rookery Cove to take up a teaching job and refurbish the house where she lived with her parents. It soon becomes apparent that she drinks heavily and that her life is not going well. She overworks and quite frankly her school situation stinks.

Brenda is in her late fifties and has just started living with her lover Miriam. But her family think Miriam is just a lodger. Miriam wants to share with others who they are, but Brenda is nervous and holding back. Plus she just doesn’t seem to get along with her uptight daughter Courtney. Her lovely grand daughter Livvy is however nothing short of a blessing.

Stephanie and her husband Henry have moved to the Cove to get more of a work/life balance. Only trouble is that just isn’t working out from Stephanie’s way of seeing it. Add to that now Zoe, Henry’s daughter has been foisted upon them by Zoe’s mother. Baby Monty is a charm but he is in constant need of care of course.

So many issues in this book that the characters are dealing with. It soon becomes obvious what the three main characters are coping with or in fact not coping with. However as a reader I wonder as I read why Zoe is acting out?

Tying all this together is the Rookery Choir, resurrected by Miriam and Brenda. It brings people together, and eventually helps bring about wondrous things. I can’t sing and would never join a choir but I can really see the benefits.

As each of the three women face into how they need to move forward, I was returning to the book every minute I had. Wanting to move through it, yet aware I was moving to the end. I loved the ending but am already missing these characters.

Book Connections

Recently Read Books.

book coverBy Australian author Sophie Green. The second book I have read by her and one I put on my list to read during October 2021. It is set in the 1980’s. I guess that almost makes it historical fiction but feels quite contemporary.

Four women find each other as they set out to swim each morning in the sea. One had her husband die about five years ago, one has two children and a grotty husband, one has moved from England with her Australian husband and is not coping. And one – the youngest, is a nurse who is estranged from her family and keeps to herself.

We learn about each as they form a group who support and are there for each other through thick and thin.

Insightful and thought provoking. Would certainly read more from Sophie Green  4 stars.

book coverGone too Far by Debra Webb is the second in a series I couldn’t wait to read. A good romantic suspense is always welcome. Thoroughly enjoyed this complicated twisty suspense. Kerri and Luke are a great detective team. Kerri’s daughter adds big interest.and my heart goes out to the tough Sadie Cross. Oh my what a big story for her. She was an undercover cop who went through hell. The ending of the book for her was the beginning of something new. I do hope we see her in the next book. I have the next one sitting in my NG line up. Couldn’t resist. 4.5 stars.

book cover

To Scotland with Love by Patience Griffin was chosen because it has a quilting aspect. Plus it is set in Scotland. I became more and more engrossed in this book and ended up happy with one very soggy tissue. Really enjoyed the characters and I do hope even though the books seem to be pretty stand alone that we meet up with many of the village in the next ones. I was on the fence about it starting, but the characters pulled me in and plus the setting of course. Will read the next one Meet Me in Scotland.           4 stars.

book cover

The Mother’s Promise had sat on my bookshelf since I bought it after it published. But skipped over it each time. Finally I put it on my reading list for October. I resisted it the first few chapters. No – wasn’t going to like it. But then I was hooked in. Alice has cancer, her daughter Zoe has social anxiety. Kate the nurse is dealing with miscarriages, and Sonja the social worker is possibly in an abusive marriage. I think it was Zoe’s story that really pulled me in. I was rooting for her and her friend Harry. Alice was in a tough place, really with no one to support her, but I liked how her brother Paul pulled his weight where it counted. Of course there are some inter connectedness that I eventually saw coming.   4 stars.

book cover

I enjoyed this one. It was nice to go back to a Kristan Higgins more light hearted romance. I was entertained by the father/daughter relationship and the balance that I could see Posey or Cordelia was going to bring to the situation. I loved Posey’s job of working with antique things that had been reclaimed. 

I felt it dragged here and there and can’t say I found the cousin Gretchen that loveable but I guess it provided family tension. I really liked Posey’s relationship with her serious brother Henry and his partner Jon.

Not a keeper but still a satisfying read.  3.5 stars.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Book Connections

Five Books from Five Shelves

I have five shelves on my bookcase with about twenty books in each. I decided to pull one book from each shelf and endeavour to read them over October. They are all authors I have read before.

Book covers are linked to Goodreads

The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle

This one has been on my shelf since a book fair in 2019, and I have been going past it. It is by Australian author Sophie Green and I have read one of her previous books.

It’s about a friendship between four women who find each other I think as they swim each day in the ocean.

The Mother's Promise I bought this one new, most likely when it published in 2017 and then it has sat there and Sally Hepworth has published far more since then! I think she was born in England but lives in Australia, so if you live in the country then I call you Australian!

Silver LiningsI got this at a book fair, not sure when. It is #4 in her Rose Harbor series. I have been reading it, so time to read on and see what is happening  in Cedar Cove at the Inn.

book coverI bought this recently because it is one I hadn’t read and I just felt like an old style book by Kristan Higgins.  Just a plain straight romance.

book cover

A nostalgic read from childhood. A few years back I bought the whole set of these books – a reprint, so not original covers. Anyway they cost quite a bit and I haven’t read them all (seven altogether). So I decided to make a start!

So if I can fit them all in they will be October reads.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


All About Ella. Meredith Appleyard

All About Ella

Published: Harlequin – Australia
Date: 1st September 2021
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

At 70, Ella’s world is upended, leaving her at odds with her three adult children, whose attention is fixed more firmly on her money than her ongoing welfare. After an argument with her son Anthony, she flees his Adelaide home for Cutlers Bay, a seaside town on the Yorke Peninsula. There she befriends Angie, a 40-year-old drifter, and becomes an irritant to local cop Zach. He’s keen to shift Ella off his turf, because Anthony phones daily, demanding his mother be sent home. And besides, Zach just doesn’t trust Angie.

Ella warms to Cutlers Bay, and it warms to her. In a defiant act of self-determination, she buys an entirely unsuitable house on the outskirts of town, and Angie agrees to help make it habitable. Zach is drawn to the house on the clifftop, and finds himself revising his earlier opinions of Ella, and Angie.

All About Ella was a lovely surprise of a read. Right from the start I was on team Ella. She’d gone through a really hard time, nursing her dying husband, having the family house sold from under her and then hustled to live with her son and daughter in law.

Ella is very realistic and in lots of ways, ordinary. But she is so likeable and I was wishing for her the very best. It was a delight to see her finding her feet and then standing firmly on them.

I loved the sound of the old house she lives in and the Australian small town feel. The house had not been lived in and felt really unsuitable but it made Ella’s heart sing and through many ups and downs she achieved so much.

Angie adds to the story with her wandering, unsettled heart. She has had a difficult family upbringing which is at the root of her wandering. The relationship that builds between Ella and Angie warmed my heart. As well Ella has a great relationship with her grandson Stefan, another element I enjoyed.

The local community is rich in ordinary warm hearted people going about their lives, doing their best and looking out for each other.

The book makes us examine what we value when it comes to allowing older people to make their own choices and live their lives as they see fit, and that families don’t need to step in unless its in the really best interests of the elder. Purpose and meaning in life is important at any age.

A delightful winner of a book and my word the cover is perfect.


The Women’s Pages. Victoria Purman

book coverPublished: Harlequin Australia
Date: 3rd September 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

In The Women’s Pages, Victoria Purman tells us the story – the history – of the lives of those as WW2 ends in Australia. In particular she paints a picture for us of the life of a woman journalist and her family and friends.

Tilly’s husband is a soldier at war, she hasn’t heard from him since 1942, but she forever hopes, as she writes  what she is assigned. What she is assigned is not always to her passion. Women are in many ways ridiculed by the men, who take “the important” stories and the larger pay packets home.

In many ways this is a black and white picture. Victoria Purman manages to provide for us an idea of the realities of that time. It is still a time of great struggle and injustice. Men return – if they do – often physically and psychologically wounded. With images in their minds that will scar them forever.  Women have scraped and provided for their families on very little and still there is very little let up. Everywhere there is injustice.

We especially see that injustice played out in the life of Tilly’s father – a waterside worker. They worked long hard hours for little remuneration and very poor working conditions. They are asking for better and are labelled “commies”.

Tilly is a gutsy woman, she has passion and fire. Even though she suffers in little and large ways she fights on. She takes the opportunities small as they are, she sees the stories of so many women of that time and is determined to make a difference.

A very realistic and eye opening depiction of this era from a woman’s point of view. Well done to Victoria Purman.


Are You Influenced by Book Covers?


Until recently I would have doggedly declared that I was not influenced in the least by book covers. I might pick them by titles – sure and certainly by authors I really like. But book covers! Gah! But… this year I was introduced to a blind side part of me.

You see I had downloaded this book from Edelweiss but I kept avoiding it. Feeling guilty of course but well still avoiding! I knew it had something to do with Germany and Auschwitz plus those colours, plus the title, sort of spoke of sadness. Now as I enlarge the cover though I see the man and boy and dog and well if I had noticed that, maybe I’d have felt differently. Plus I’ve read some now and see how it fits in.

book cover

Then I read a review for this book over at Book’d Out and the book had an alternative cover and suddenly I felt quite differently about the book.

book cover


Sure it still has the colour red  but it has such a cosy feel to it. Books on the cover and a teapot and a yellow canary (yes and there is one in the book). This one doesn’t look threatening at all. I want to read this book!

And then here is another cover for the book that also says – I am so light and sweet and happy.  Look at those books flying about, looks very inviting. I am totally ignoring the bit in the title that says broken hearted.

Now that I am into the book I really think that it has  aspects of each of the covers, (I haven’t finished it yet). But now I am leaning towards the first, somehow it evokes in me some of the emotional aspects of the book.

You? Are you swayed by book covers?

Which of these book covers would entice you to pick up this book?


Linking up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.


Home at Last Meredith Appleyard

book cover

Published: Mira   Australia
Date: 18th March 2019
Format:  e-ARC
Pages:  416
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley


I chose to read this book because I’ve always had a fascination with the Flying Doctor Service in Australia. I think it goes back to the years of radio when when there’d be stories that involved this incredible service.

Anna comes back to Broken Hill as a pilot for the FDS. I loved that gender roles were reversed in this novel. Anna is a very competent pilot, has had a challenging life but always seems to make something work.

She meets up with one of the FDS nurses – Nick and a relationship develops. However for both of them there are issues especially that of trust that makes things rough going for awhile. Nick has his own baggage and it all takes some time to be worked out.

The flying doctor service aspect did not disappoint, the author’s own experience of nursing with the FDS made for very authentic situations. I loved the Australian rural setting, a couple of the minor characters added some fizz to the plot.

The story deals with issues of parenthood, ageing parents, having work that is satisfying and of course working out a relationship. A good read.