All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Man Drought – Rachael Johns

on January 11, 2013

Man DroughtMan Drought
Rachael Johns
Harlequin MIRA
2013, 377p
Copy courtesy of Harlequin AUS

Imogen is looking for a fresh start. She lost her husband and a chance passing of The Majestic Hotel in rural town Gibson’s Find has given her an idea. She uses her husband’s life insurance money to purchase the pub, filled with ideas about how to restore it to its former glory. Her friends are a little wary of her moving away to somewhere so remote, where she doesn’t know anyone but Imogen knows this can work.

Gibson Black has lived in Gibson’s Find all his life and knows he’ll never leave. The town has a serious lack of women between the ages of 20 and 50 and that’s the way he likes it. Gibson was married once to a city girl and it ended in disaster. When Imogen blows in with her grand ideas for the pub, Gibson doesn’t like it at all. She upsets his calm life in many ways with her plans for the pub and also her looks. The redhead has immediately caught Gibson’s reluctant eye and he’s helpless to fight the growing attraction between them.

Imogen loves a challenge and the pub and enigmatic Gibson Black are certainly providing her with that. As much as he intrigues her and frustrates her with his hot/cold attitude, Imogen is a throwing her everything into The Majestic. She has ideas to bring women back to the town, bring the life back to this dying town and save it from becoming a ghost town. And now that Gibson’s thawed a little, she’s thoroughly enjoying herself and her new life.

But Imogen has guilt and Gibson still has a secret that might threaten the happy ending that these two deserve.

It kind of feels like I was waiting for this novel forever but let’s face it, it was probably only about six months because I think I read Jilted back in June. Of course it arrived after we left for our holiday and for three weeks I watched others read it and love it and the anticipation continued to build. Sometimes the anticipation is much greater than the pay off but I’m happy that wasn’t the case with this one. This book had me hooked from start to finish!

Imogen and I are the same age and she is already a widow, something I can’t even imagine facing. Since she lost her husband she’s been on a sort of autopilot until she sees The Majestic Hotel during a rural drive and is suddenly struck by an idea of her future. The pub is grand in style, a real old country pub but has seen better days and needs a good scrub, some new furniture and a bit of TLC. Imogen wastes no time hiring herself a new bar tender and cook to replace the married couple selling up and heading off to be grey nomads and begins to put her grand plans into action. It seems like the one thorn in her side is Gibson Black, who seems to be the only local not particularly friendly.

The chemistry between Imogen and Gibson sizzles from the time they first lock eyes. They dance around each other, clearly interested but suffering from their own baggage and issues – Imogen is still grieving her husband, believing that she’ll never marry again or have a family and she often feels extremely guilty over the fact that she’s attracted to another man. Gibson had a fairly disastrous marriage to a woman who walked out on him and went back to the city and he’s kept himself closed off to people, especially women, ever since. That hasn’t been a problem before, because there were no women in Gibson’s Find. But the arrival of Imogen has turned his cool world upside down and things are definitely heating up!

I did love the realism between Imogen and Gibson – I thought her guilt was very well done and probably very likely of someone in that position. When you marry someone it’s supposed to be for life and to have her husband taken from her when they’d barely started their married lives together would be horrible. She faces a dilemma of finding something that could possibly make her very happy but also having to let go of something else and feeling as though she has betrayed someone she loves, even though he’s not technically with her anymore. And likewise Gibson’s marriage breakdown was a bit of a blow to his ego and he’s still harbouring the sort of secret that makes him think that Imogen will definitely walk out of his life, just like his ex-wife did.

The supporting characters in this novel are a highlight as well – especially Charlie, Gibson’s grandfather and the 80-something year old bar worker at The Majestic Hotel. Charlie works hard in the early parts of the novel to push Gibson and Imogen together, which doesn’t really work as Gibson is mostly rude to her and doesn’t make the best impression so Charlie is forever apologising for him and trying to explain that normally, he’s a very good man! He was seriously adorable and his own life circumstances had quite a lesson for Imogen to learn in regards to her own future happiness.

Man Drought is a much stronger book than Jilted and even though I really did love Jilted, I see where Man Drought has benefited from being a second novel. There’s much more confidence in the story and the characters and as a reader, seeing each book improve and become better lends so well to anticipating the next one – which I already am!

9/10

Book #7 of 2013

AWW2013

Man Drought is the 4th novel read and reviewed for The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

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2 responses to “Man Drought – Rachael Johns

  1. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I liked this a lot too and thought it was stronger than Jilted as well – great review Bree

  2. Marg says:

    I really enjoyed this. I am going to go back and read Jilted but haven’t done so yet.

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