Review

Just One Wish. Rachael Johns

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Published: HQ & Mira Australia
Date: 21st October 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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Just One Wish is the latest piece of fiction from the hand of author Rachael Johns. It’s set in Melbourne, Australia and presents to us the lives of three generations of women: Grandmother, Mother and Daughter.

As I read the first few chapters I thought meh, not sure I am going to get into this, and then wham the story sprang to life and all hell let loose. It has so much drama – family drama, going on. As well it explores all kinds of relationships, plus the role of a woman in today’s world, what really matters in life, lost love and found love, and mostly being true to yourself.

Alice is the grandmother, she is a woman of science, and believed that it was really important to not have your life dictated by marriage and the need to have a man in your life. How does that pan out? Well in a very interesting way.

Her daughter Sappho is married to Tony and has two grown up children and a couple of grandchildren. She is a stay at home mother with a difference. She is the Happy Happy Housewife with a big following on You Tube and Instagram. However life is about to throw her a curve ball that really puts some spice into the family’s life.

Ged is Sappho’s daughter. The story is told from her point of view and this really worked well. Ged is a journalist, she adores her grandmother and wants to write the biography of Alice, such an inspiring woman. We meet Ged as she is dealing with a broken romance that she thought was going somewhere. Surprise! Well there are a few surprises for Ged, they come thick and fast.

I loved this family, the falling outs, the helping outs, all the things they have to deal with. The book is well written, once I was into it, I was reading along wondering what was going to happen next. Well worth the read.

#IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading October?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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Well another pretty normal week. Last weekend we moved to daylight saving so that meant an hour earlier for us to rise and shine! Four of my sisters went off for a week on the Gold Coast of Australia on Friday so they are coping with a three hour time difference. Guess who is going for early morning walks on the beach!

What I read last week:

Keep Her Safe was all I had hoped for from this author, fast paced, a mystery to solve, and characters I loved. I am now a total K. A. Tucker addict reader.  I got this from the library but her new books go to auto-buy.
I finally finished listening to The House of Tradd St. Really enjoyed it and am looking forward to listening to the rest of the series.
Just One Wish is a review book that will have a review on its way.

What I am reading now:

For listening I chose The Giver of Stars. Evidently there is some bit of controversy over this book and its similarity to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. So I’ll read that soon and then make my own mind up.

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I am about to begin reading this one of my TBR shelf

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Up next:

A review book

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Last Week’s Posts

Looking back at September Reading

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Review

Lost Without You by Rachael Johns

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Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Date: October 29th 2018
Format:  Trade Paperback
Source: Own book
Rating

 

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Lost Without You by Rachael Johns is a roller coaster ride of family, friendship, a secret, loss, guilt and love.

Rebecca is a mother to Paige and wife of Hugh. Early on she is faced with a serious health issue that throws her family into some stress. Evaluating her life Rebecca decides to look back and open a door in her life she has hidden away.  Her daughter is about to go down the marriage path and has a really lovely partner Sol. So Paige decides she wants to find her mother’s wedding dress and be married in it.

This search leads her to Josie and Nic – married and Josie is not coping with the miscarriages she has had to endure. However the two girls become friends and everything there seems to be good.

Clara is another person in the mix – she nurses Rebecca when she is in hospital and also helps Josie out with her grief.

When Rebecca’s secret is revealed everyone is thrown out of their comfort zones. Some become judgemental and angry and rifts occur. And it also turns out that all the women’s lives are more intertwined than first thought.

I felt for them all but most of all for Rebecca because of the way others turned on her. I understand that we can get hurt and angry with family members so I could see where they were coming from, but all the way through I was on her side!

It was a very good read,  possibly some links were a little too coincidental, however it was story with challenging issues that were well explored.

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Review

The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns

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Published: MIRA (Australia)
Date: 23rd October 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 416
Genre: General Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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Radio host Harper Drummond lives for her career. Every day she meets fascinating people doing extraordinary things, but has begun to wonder whether there could something more for her out there. She’s financially secure, happily married to Samuel and has a great group of friends — what more could she want? It’s only when she interviews one special couple that she starts to think about whether she could make a different kind of contribution.

Claire and Jasper Beggs are passionate about their thriving hot air balloon business and know they’re lucky to find such joy in their work and in each other. But while Jasper has accepted that he will never be a father, Claire has found it hard to come to terms with her infertility. She doesn’t want Jasper to regret choosing her over a child in the years to come. Is there a way to give themselves a real chance at being a happy family?

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In her latest book The Greatest Gift Rachael Johns explores the issues of wanting children but being infertile and the amazing role those who make egg donations take on, to help those who have a strong desire to be a parent. This was actually a new idea to me, not sure why I hadn’t heard of it before but I hadn’t and so this book was a marvellous way for me to gain insight into it.

Harper is a woman who doesn’t want children and neither does her husband Samuel. However Harper does want to contribute and find deeper meaning in her life so she decides to explore the possibility of donating some of her eggs. Thereby creating the greatest gift.

Claire is infertile due to a childhood illness and so when she wants children one possibility is to look for an egg donor. In Australia this is unpaid and donors willingly make the gift. How things follow up in terms of whether the egg donor has any further communication with the new parents was another interesting aspect.

Of course this is a story that does not just go from A to B and new baby and every one goes home happy. Rachael Johns throws in a few curly twists and turns that made for some heart in the mouth reading.

I liked the development of the characters, especially that of Harper – her journey was in the end the one that grabbed me. Jasper – husband of Claire, was another character whose reactions and feelings seemed totally believable. How they change and take up the challenges of the journey they are on made for some very good reading.

Review

Talk of the Town Rachael Johns

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Published: Mira
Date: May 1st 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 4416
Genre: Country Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 stars        Add to Goodreads

Lawson Cooper-Jones has two priorities in life – his son, Ned, and the survival of the dairy farm that has been in his family for generations. Despite the best efforts of the town matchmakers and the determined pursuit of local girl Adeline Walsh, Lawson’s heart belongs still, and only, to his late wife.

But when a flat tyre strands Lawson and Ned in nearby Rose Hill, he’s surprised to find a woman living alone in the old general store of the deserted town. Ned immediately forms a bond with the beautiful stranger called Meg, and Lawson is surprised to find himself captivated by her too.

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Talk of the Town was a book that drew me in right from the beginning and kept me engaged all the way through. There wasn’t big drama or lots of action, but relationships that mattered and caught at my heart.
Would you buy a house in the middle of a town where people no longer lived, except for someone called Crazy Archie? Live in an old house that was once a country store. Well you wouldn’t find me doing it, however that’s what Meg does, and there is an air of mystery about her that makes you wonder what led her here? What’s her past? 
Then there is a very likeable dairy farmer Lawson and an eight year old son who has his head on straight and is a total delight. Add into that mix Tabitha, Lawson’s sister who is another one who has her heart and head in the right place.  Throw in a couple of dogs, a ghost who resides side by side with Meg and a rather spiteful, but not totally lost wanna-be-girlfriend of Lawson and the scene is set.
I loved the Western Australia country setting, the romance, the twists and turns and the just downright wonderfulness of the right kind of relationships and the opportunity of second chances.  And who is the talk of the town? Read the book and find out!
Keep them coming Rachael Johns. 
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Review

My Top Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created and is  hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  
It is rather difficult to chose the top books of 2016 for me. So many good reads, although not necessarily outstanding reads. Some haven’t made the list but could easily have. I haven’t included audiobooks although some were fabulous. Thank you to all the authors who entertained me in 2016. I apologise that your book is not here, mainly because the post would just be far too long!
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This was my first book of the year and it turns out to be one of my top reads for 2016. It was fantasy and a real saga.  I was reluctant to leave these people. I held my breath, I wondered, I wept, I smiled. I’ll be reading Foxmask in 2017, the follow up of this book. First time reading author Judith Marillier – New Zealand born and educated now living in Australia.

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I was impressed by this one and it was my first book by USA author Kristina McMorris. Historical fiction. The climax was tense and I wanted to close my eyes and jump a few pages! Perhaps it ended a little too tidily some might say, however I  found it very satisfying, and loved how the story circled around itself and even with one element having a bittersweet mirror image.

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Rachael Johns – Australian author produced two books in 2016 I loved, this was one of them.  Outback Sisters –  all that I love in a good romance novel. Add to that a good dose of rural Australia. There were plenty of little twists and turns, much drama and heartache, and of course love. If that wasn’t enough, I was also reminded of good times, when Rachael Johns mentioned The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) which took me off in a little indulgent reminiscence. And she also has two characters who love reading and love to discuss the books they read.

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Another Australian author I enjoyed. Historical fiction and debut novel. Set in the USA in the 1920’s. I loved the whole historical background and what it was like for women in those days. It was rather horrifying to read of some of the childbirth practices and attitudes prevalent in that time. A woman’s touch was certainly needed. penned an absorbing, clever book, with characters that came alive off the page. I enjoyed the drama, the humour, the sadness, the romance and the time period. Fantastic read. And totally adore the cover.

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I have come to love the romance books of UK author Sarah Morgan. Loved the #3 in the Puffin Island series. To my mind Sarah Morgan is tops at writing today’s romance stories. This one was charming and enchanting. Set in the winter wonderland of snow and Christmas – a wonderful backdrop. At first I was disappointed it wasn’t all on Puffin Island, but the English countryside was magical too. Loved the tension between the two main characters, the humour and the growing love. There was plenty of wisdom in the story and loved that too. Love her writing and the similes were often spot on. Perfection.

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Allegiance of Honour is #15 in this wonderful urban fantasy/paranormal series. I have loved every book in the series and this was another winner for me. As Nalini Singh (NZ author)  says it has an ensemble cast. Many of the characters from previous books are given updates on how life is going for them. As I love each and every one of these characters that was a delight for me. I took my time reading it. No skipping lines, I just wanted to savour it. Delicious!

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USA author J. R. Ward does it again. This soap drama series has intrigued me and the second one – this one – just left me wanting more of this dysfunctional family. I couldn’t wait to find out all the scandal that has gone on since last year’s book The Bourbon Kings. Of course I had to wait! A whole year, but it has passed and I eagerly began this book. I might even have peeked at the end – although it didn’t tell me that much. This is a book that you have to read every line because you just might miss something of one of the characters evolving story.

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I always love a new book from USA author Cathy Lamb. Toni is the narrator, one of three sisters who have a very special bond. They began their lives in Russia in the 80’s where it was dangerous for them. They were under the eye of the KGB and their large extended family were quietly escaping to the USA. While the story begins in America, every so often we go back to that time in Russia until every little horrific detail of that time is revealed. One of the mysteries that Toni holds a little part – how did their brother arrive to them one bloody night?

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Archangel’s Heartis #9 in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. In this book the focus is back on Elena and Raphael and their ever maturing relationship. This time they are off to Morocco where the Luminata have called all the Cadre (the group of archangels who rule the world), because one of the Cadre – Lijuan ruler of China is missing. Is she dead? Hiding out? Or gone into a deep Sleep that lasts for centuries?
This book made me want to reread and reacquaint myself again with the whole series. It was an absorbing and emotional read. Every detail needs to be read, you can’t afford to skip a line, everything counts. Fabulous writing, satisfying reading, the very best!

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This was my first introduction to USA author Karen Rose and her romantic suspense. Every Dark Corner introduces Kate Coppola – an agent I just loved. Despite stress and a personal history that might have levelled another, Kate dedicates herself to helping others, working to save those caught in the nets of depravity.  I highly recommend you get to know her.  She sits within a 5 star read.
I have since gone on to read the first one in the series and have the next one as well. Then I will be all caught up and waiting for the next one in the Cinncinnati series.

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Ah…USA author Mary Alice Monroe. Another in her Lowcountry series. It was everything I love in a story and it was just so good to go back in Taylor’s life to when he first was discharged from the Marines, after experiencing a terrible explosion that left him shattered and suffering from PTSD. He can’t cope with returning to his family for Christmas, finds crowds threatening, and his family are bewildered and find it difficult to understand.
This is a beautifully written story, it sucked me in right from the beginning and I loved every word and minute of it. It is a perfect Christmas story and is linked with little quotes and references to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Review

The Art of Keeping Secrets. Rachael Johns

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Published: HQN Mira.
Date: 19th September
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 464
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 Stars

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They’ve been best friends since their sons started high school together, and Felicity, Emma and Neve share everything … or so they thought.

But Flick’s seemingly perfect marriage hides a shocking secret which, with one word, threatens to destroy her and her family’s happiness. Emma is in denial about a potential custody battle, her financial constraints, the exhaustion she can’t seem to shake off and the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And single mum Neve is harbouring a secret of her own; a secret that might forever damage her close-knit relationship with her son.

When the tight hold they have each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if that truth has the power to hurt the ones they love, and each other.

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Racheal Johns has written an engaging and thought provoking book about three friends and the secrets they have unshared. They are really very involved in each others lives, yet they don’t know everything that is going  on for each of them – yet. 
Three women – Felicity married to Seb, with two children, Zoe about to be married and  a seventeen year old son.  Seb is a loving attentive husband, the other two women Emma and Neve somewhat envy the happy married life. But what they don’t know is that something is going down to change the relationship Felicity and Seb have. In spite of the love between them, it may not be enough.
Emma is a divorced women coping with three teenage children and an ex husband and his young wife that has replaced her. Max gives the children everything, and Emma struggles to work and pay the way of herself and the children with little support from the ex. And what is worse the stress is getting to her and headaches are plaguing every step she takes. 
Neve, has one son – Will. She has brought Will up alone, and now he wants to know who is father is. The trouble is she has told Will his father did not want him, however now she is faced with having to face up to the man she has never told that he has a son. She is at risk of losing her son when he discovers the truth.
In turn the story focuses on each woman and the struggles she faces. However they are all very much there for each other, in spite of some differences of opinions.  And eventually secrets will out.  And when it is tough going they are there for each other. The theme of friendship is strong. 
Each woman must find her way forward for her, while friends are there for you, in the end each must take those brave steps on their own. While I don’t want to give the plot away, other than to say its very on point, I’ll just say that I was so delighted to see Felicity finally take the heartbreaking step that would ensure she stay true to herself.
Kudos to Rachael Johns for this book, exploring a topic that has only recently come to the fore a lot more.  Not telling what though, that would be to spoil the finding out.
Review

Outback Sisters. Rachael Johns

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Published: MIRA Harlequin (Australia)
Date: 22nd February 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages:
Genre: Rural Australian Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
5 stars           Add to Goodreads

Cafe owner Frankie has been unlucky in love all her life. It’s hard in a small town like Bunyip Bay to meet prospective partners. Her sister, Simone, lost the love of her live years before and is now devoted to raising their two teenage girls, leaving little time for romance. When Frankie is kissed by a handsome stranger who calls her Simone, it’s a case of mistaken identity – but who is this man and how does he know Simone?

Logan Knight is in town to meet up with a woman he has met online. Although raised on a farm with his brother Angus, he has travelled the world as a journalist and is now looking forward to meeting a girl and settling down. The girl in the cafe was an amazing kisser – but not the one he thought he was meeting!

Reclusive farmer Angus wants nothing to do with Logan’s plans for improving the property’s finances and finding a partner – until he meets the sisters at a wedding. Who is attracted to whom? More importantly, can Frankie and Simone sort out their feelings for the two brothers without destroying their very close bond.

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Outback Sisters – was all that I love in a good romance novel. Add to that a good rural Australian romance. There were plenty of little twists and turns, much drama and heartache, and of course love.
If that wasn’t enough, I was also reminded of good times, when Rachael Johns mentioned The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) which took me off in a little indulgent reminiscence. She also has two characters who love reading – Logan and Frankie, and their book talk was also a little icing on the cake. Actually these two were very good at putting icing on cakes!
Two sisters, two brothers and wires crossed. What fun! Well it did cause them some consternation and setbacks but…in the end perfection! It all started when Simone’s two girls Harriet and Grace sign up to a social media dating website as their mother (unknown to her)… and Logan comes calling.
Each of the four main characters have life issues that they are dealing with, they have past hurts and some secrets. Simone is a single parent as her husband died a few years back and it is not easy raising young girls these days. Frankie has been burned in love, Logan and Angus have lost their parents in tragic circumstances and Logan is also hiding something as well. 
Each book in this Bunyip Bay series has been stellar. This one – #4 was every bit as good as the others and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While it is part of a series you could read it as a stand alone, but this whole series is too good to miss out on.
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Outback Sisters Product Page – Harlequin Australia
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The Patterson Girls. Rachael Johns

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The Patterson Girls
Rachael Johns
Published: MIRA (Aus)
Date: September 17th 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary romance.
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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In The Patterson Girls we meet four sisters who have just returned home to their home on the Eyre Peninsula in Southern Australia. It will be their first Christmas together at their home – the Meadow Brook motel without their mother who died earlier in the year.

Madeleine is the oldest and works in Baltimore in the USA as an obstetrician. She has always been the one with a matter of fact approach to life.

Lucinda comes next. She  is married to Joe, lives in Perth and teaches young children. Her main desire in life is to become pregnant and add to the large Italian family that Joe belongs to.

Charlotte or Charlie works at a cafe in Melbourne, she feels a little inferior to the others, has never been to university and thinks the others look down at her somewhat.

Abigail is the youngest, a talented violinist, lives in London and doesn’t want the others to know she has been sacked from her job in the orchestra.

As they gather together it is tough finding their father just not himself and the motel going into the ground.  Going through their mother’s clothes they find an old card that indicates a curse on Patterson women. But what?  Aunt Mags, their Dad’s sister, is the one who gives them the answer. This starts off a different set of events for each sister that leads to a whole chapter of events in their lives. The only one who seems to be exempt from it all is Charlie who has remained at the motel after Christmas to help her dad out, and in doing so renews her friendship with Mitch, one of the local lads.

There is many an ‘adventure’ for each sister as the novel unfolds, each struggles with the challenges and opportunities offered. But ultimately it seems the curse overhangs them like a dark cloud.

This is a story of how when the chips are down family comes together, and how honesty and sharing can bond sisters together.  It examines the stress of how trying to become pregnant can put a lot of pressure on a relationship and asks what ultimately really matters. I enjoyed the exploration of a modern group of people being put under pressure and entertaining the idea of a curse.

A warm, thought provoking story of family, loving and living life meaningfully and fully.

4 stars
Review

Outback Blaze Rachael Johns

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Outback Blaze
Rachael Johns
Published: Harlequin Mira Au
Date: 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 367
Genre: Contemporary rural romance
Source: Own book
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Ruby wasn’t looking for love, Drew wasn’t looking to stay…until they found each other. Can their fling survive the darkness of Ruby’s past and Drew’s desire to move on?

Ruby Jones was always an optimist, but the trauma of her past had made her wary. So when she flees to the small rural community of Bunyip Bay to start afresh, she has her sights firmly set on establishing her horse-riding business and rebuilding her life. The last thing Ruby wants is a romance. In fact, after all she has been through, she can’t imagine she will ever believe in love again.

Police officer Drew Noble has no intention of staying in Bunyip Bay — he is just an outsider seeking temporary refuge. But as the charm of the town sways him, Drew finds himself increasingly drawn to the community and its inhabitants, as well as another newcomer, the lovely Ruby Jones.

When Drew investigates a suspicious fire at Ruby’s parents’ business, he finds himself feeling strangely protective of the girl with the flowers in her hair. As the details of Ruby’s past emerge and she comes once more under threat, Drew realises he will do all in his power to save her.

Soon these outsiders discover they have both lost their hearts — not only to the town but to each other.

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Outback Blaze is #2 in the Bunyip Bay series by Australian author Rachael Johns.  I have enjoyed the first and third of this series and this one was every bit as good.  
Ruby has only been home about six months when a number of calamities hit her, you’d think one would be enough, but no, her author hit her up for three!  I am not giving anything away by mentioning the first is a terrible fire that burns her parents’ business down.  It starts off a chain of investigation as to who might have done this terrible deed.  Ruby is hit hard by two more shocking and heartbreaking events that would shake the bravest of heroines up.
The only bright light in the whole situation is the presence of Drew, just out to Australia from Liverpool.  Unbeknown to Ruby he has a whole back story that could bring an end to their budding relationship.  Drew has had a lot of tough experience policing and he is determined to find who has started the fire and… what turns up next.  
The book is full of mystery, I had even pegged the cop boss, but no he turned out to be in the clear! There are all the elements of a small town – support, gossip, prejudice – you name it, Bunyip Bay has it.  I loved meeting the characters from the other books, and just had to keep reading on to find out ‘who dun it?’ 
4 stars
Bunyip Bay
Outback Blaze  #2