Title: Road to Hope
Author: Rachael Johns
Opens: … Sitting on a painfully hard church pew witnessing the man you’ve always loved declare his undying love and affection to someone else is a special kind of torture…
Blurb: Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town. Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment. When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?
My Thoughts: I was first introduced to Lauren in Jilted – and felt sorry for her, as she had a reputation of being a ‘good time had by all’ girl who was trying to stop Flynn and Ellie from getting together – but she is misunderstood. Come on now, let’s get real – she always loved Flynn and when she had a chance to get him when his heart was broken she took it – who wouldn’t. But the truth of the matter is if anything she was the victim as Flynn was using HER rather than the other way. So ROAD TO HOPE opens with Lauren at Flynn’s wedding and naturally she is very upset as she can’t turn her heart off, and it hurts to see the man she still loves, despite of everything, marrying someone else.
Somehow she has a reputation of being man hungry and running after any available man! She is single – why is this bad? As Hope was a small town I’m not sure if there would have been a lot to run after! OK she might hop into bed with them fairly early on in the relationship, but that seems to be the norm nowadays so it doesn’t make her a tart. And once the relationships ends, as relationships do, and the ex’s go on and marry someone else, well that isn’t her fault either! Lauren realises that to leave this unfair reputation behind – she is going to have to go as the town is not going to change. This is one disadvantage of being in a small town – yes there is mateship and support – there is also nasty gossip and rumour mongering.
So the very day she decides to leave town and start a new life, and decides she is not going to sleep with the wrong sort of men again – locum Tom arrives. What’s more he’s a friend of Lauren’s brother and is staying at the family home. The attraction between the two is immediate – it’s just the wrong time. He is not looking for commitment or love, but she is, and this time she wants her own happy ever after. So what follows is a fun story of two people tiptoeing around each other as they share a house and try so hard not to fall in love with each other. But by doing this they end up talking to each other, doing things together, getting to know each other – no strings attached. This slow approach to the growing romance, against undeniable simmering lust, is lovely.
Lauren’s character demonstrates what a loving and caring person she is, and devoted to her job of nursing. In the opening scenes despite her issues with the family of a patient (Flynn’s grandmother) she focusses utterly on her patient and her well-being with all personal feelings put aside. And as I commented on at one point if I ever have to be hospitalised in the old folks section then I SO want Lauren and Tom to be my carers. As for Tom – I loved him too. He is a very good doctor and practices wholesome medicine – that is not just giving medicine but trying to help the mind and spirit as well. And did I mention he is hot? And has most of the female population drooling after him – and me? Tom hit the road as a locum to see Australia and get away from a family tragedy in Adelaide. While he helps his patients in Hope, he comes to realise the importance of family and that he shouldn’t assume that everyone will react to the secret he is hiding the same way.
Once again Rachel Johns has demonstrated why she is a much in demand writer – her writing is flawless and the stories have humour, drama, passion and a feeling that you have joined your mates at the local pub for a catch up session. The reader is included and not an onlooker. Looking forwards to whatever she is going to come up with next.
For more about the author – Click Here
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.
With thanks to Harlequin MIRA Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.