Title: Outback Dreams
Author: Rachael Johns
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Opening lines: “…I hate you both and I’m not coming …”
Blurb: Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. Now Faith has embarked on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both.
My Thoughts: OUTBACK DREAMS was one of my top reads for September, I found myself dragged into the world of Faith and Monty from page one and not allowed to leave until the very final page. Part of the myriad of reasons I loved this book was because I related to some of the backstories in the book resulting in it becoming very personal for me. The first back story was the one about the old girls network at the private girls’ boarding school that Faith attended. Like her I attended one and related to sometimes feeling like a duck out of water with the other girls who were rich and either titled or the offspring of famous people. I have never put myself in a position to compete in the old girls functions – but could totally relate how Faith needed to do it. The other back story that I really related to the most was that of the charity that Faith decided to raise funds for – Dogs for Autism – and the linking story of Monty’s brother Will. Whilst the Dogs for Autism charity is fictional there really are organisations that train companion dogs for the disabled in Australia. Faith picked this charity because Monty’s little brother Will had high-functioning Autism; this struck a chord because our oldest grandson is also a high-functioning autistic. The Autism Spectrum covers a wide range of behavioural issues and affects thousands in Australia and around the world. I have learnt so much since our grandson was diagnosed; he is lucky in that he has been diagnosed early and will be able to live a normal life. Some children are not diagnosed and can often end up being the victims of bullying; even those who are diagnosed can end up being bullied. OUTBACK DREAMS gently highlights the issue of having a family member with Autism and how it can affect the whole family. It also was able to convey through Will that with the right intervention high-functioning autistic people can lead normal lives. OUTBACK DREAMS was a great read, a perfect blend of romance, believable conflict, perfect miscommunication and a happy ever after which will melt the most romance reading resistant heart. Rachel Johns brings the outback community alive and makes excellent use of humour to break up potentially traumatic scenes
“…Daisy looked up and Faith swore she actually smiled. Damn traitorous cow. She was such a hussy…”
More importantly there is genuine growth in each of the main characters, both Monty and Faith have to realise that what is missing from their lives is each other. And even once they have realised this then there is another hurdle to overcome.
There were a couple of the supporting characters who obviously need to find their own perfect match – Adam and Ruby. Which is a bit of a lead in because OUTBACK DREAMS is actually the start of a three book series all set in the small Western Australian fictional farming town of Bunyip Bay. Each can be read as a standalone even though the connections to the other books will be there. First Ruby and then Adam will reappear in these next books. I am SO keeping an eagle eye out for the upcoming releases of Outback Blaze (due in January 2014) and Outback Ghost (June 2014).
Rating: A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.
For more about the author – Click Here
NB: Assistant Dogs: My husband and I have been supporting Assistance Dogs Australia http://www.assistancedogs.org.au for years, and know that it costs them $27,000 to train just one dog; they cover all disabilities however Smart Pups http://www.smartpups.org.au/autism-assist-dogs concentrate on autistic children and those that suffer from seizures and they need a similar amount per dog to bring up to the standard needed to assist the child they are assigned too. Both organisations would welcome any donations with open arms.
Outback Dreams by Rachael Johns is book # 36 for AWW2013
With thanks to Harlequin Mira and the author for my copy to read and review