All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Lost Without You by Rachael Johns

on October 22, 2018

Lost Without You
Rachael Johns
Harlequin AUS
2018, 481p
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Four women, one dress, and the secret that binds them all…

On a special night that is supposed to be a celebration of new beginnings, Paige MacRitchie’s joy quickly falls away when her mother collapses during the speeches at her book launch. In the aftermath, and terrified of losing her, Paige decides she wants to make the ultimate tribute to her parents’ perfect marriage: she will wear her mother’s wedding dress for her own big day.

There’s just one problem – her mum, Rebecca, no longer has the dress.

As Paige tries to track down the elusive gown, she discovers that Rebecca has a long-hidden secret that, if revealed, could blow her whole family apart. Her new friend Josie is at a crossroads too. She met her husband Nik when she was singing in an eighties-themed bar, but now she’s lonely, yearning for a family and wondering if Nik understands her at all.

And then there’s nurse Clara. When she married Rob Jones, an up-and-coming rock star, she thought she was in it forever. But now Clara needs to make a new life for herself and Rob can’t seem to understand that it’s over.

When the fates of these four women intertwine in an unexpected and powerful way, none of their lives will ever be the same again.

A fresh and poignant novel of family, journeys, past decisions … and dresses … from the ABIA award-winning, bestselling author Rachael Johns.

I tore through this almost 500p book in a few hours in an afternoon. It’s a complex story but also an easily read one, with relatable characters and although some of the situations rely on coincidence and close proximity, it’s easy to set this aside and just enjoy the story that is being told here.

Paige is a devoted daughter to Rebecca and Hugh and when Rebecca falls ill at Paige’s book launch and is diagnosed with quite a severe illness, Paige has the bright idea to wear her mother’s wedding dress to her own up and coming wedding. Honestly Rebecca must have the only 80s wedding dress that transcends that decade because my mother got married in the 80s and her dress was definitely not something I could’ve worn at my 2011 wedding without looking like I was playing dress up! But the idea is lovely and Paige is singleminded in her attempts to track down the dress.

Whilst Paige is busy with all that, Rebecca is ruminating on a deep and dark secret she’s been keeping for 35 years and having regrets brought on by her diagnosis. She knows that it’s time to come clean but when she does, it’s going to have devastating repercussions for her family. For me, this was a seriously strong part of the book. Both Rebecca’s daughter and her husband react strongly to Rebecca’s news and the fact that she’s kept it a secret for so long and their reactions are ugly and bitter and hurtful and well, real. It’s how I think I’d imagine reacting if I found out my husband or parents had kept something from me like that, because I’m the sort of person that knee-jerk reacts to something and then has to calm down. I found it so sad for Rebecca at times, but I could also understand the intense hurt and frustration from both Hugh and Paige at discovering this news. It’s raw and for me, believable and true. It takes a while for each of them to work through their feelings and you can tell that it is something they do have to really work at. Rather than just being shocked and then being fine with it moments later.

Rebecca and Paige meet Clara and Josie throughout the book (and Clara and Josie also meet through other avenues) and the four of them become incredibly entangled in ways that strengthen them individually and also together as they forge friendships but there’s also a lot of hidden secrets that come tumbling out which also complicates their connections as well as changing and evolving them. I loved some of the reveals in this, they were all so well done and (I have always said this) show how well Rachael Johns excels at writing relationships and interactions between people. She just gets the way that people connect and also how they fall apart. There’s a lot of emotion in this book but it never feels over the top or cheesy, not does it feel contrived. There are several couples in this – two already married, one engaged and one couple are divorced. The couple that are divorced, Clara and Rob, have endured a lot of loss and heartache in their lives and Rob in particular has never quite been able to learn to cope with that or find a successful way to deal with the feelings it evokes in him. He turns to the bottle and when he and Clara eventually divorce (at Clara’s instigation) it seems that Rob continues to spiral downward, clinging to Clara and what they shared (and lost) while Clara just wants to move on. She wants a clean break, a fresh start, the potential for companionship and laughter again. Rob, although he only really appears in the book a couple of times, was very well written. His dependency on alcohol is given background and context and he becomes a truly sympathetic character as the depth of his regret and pain is realised. I feel as though the choice for him was the brave one, but the right one in terms of the story being told and the set up. It seemed the only (unfortunately) logical conclusion and because of that, it would allow the other characters to connect and move forward.

This was beautifully heartwarming and full of emotional depth. There are a few coincidences pinning the story together, not going to lie but they’re easy to just go with because the story is so well written. A good book can make you believe anything and this book had no trouble convincing me.

9/10

Book #177 of 2018

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2 responses to “Review: Lost Without You by Rachael Johns

  1. I love any books that deal with a group of friends thanks to Sisters of the Traveling Pants! I added this to my TBR. Thanks for putting it on my radar. 🙂

  2. Marg says:

    I really need to hurry up and get to this one!

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