The Opal Octopus

Reading and reviews by the Indian Ocean

Review: The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns


The Road to Hope
by Rachael Johns

Series: Hope Junction #2
Published by Harlequin MIRA Australia
on March 1st, 2015
Genres: Australian Rural Romance, Social Issues
Pages: 352
Review: The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns
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?

A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.


Lauren is a nurse in a small-town southwest hospital. Her most recent romantic interest has just married another (see Jilted for details, but this isn’t mandatory in order to enjoy The Road to Hope). She is feeling down about her life, and making plans to leave Hope Junction.

Town doctor Hannah Bates has left on holiday, and in blows locum GP Tom Lewis. He’s gorgeous, compassionate, and he can cook. Tom and Lauren, forced into shared living quarters, start a hot-and-cold romance. Why is Tom so reluctant to get involved in anything deeper? And what is going on with his family back in Adelaide?

THIS is what I really like about full-length Aussie rural romance, compared to shorter category type romance! We get not just a love story, but other stories with complex inter-weaving storylines, social issues, all spiced with a great sense of place (which I love).

Yes, it’s is a male-doctor-female-nurse love story, but it’s not a hackneyed one. Lauren is portrayed as a professional in her own right, not a handmaiden. Yes, she paints the nails of the resident elders in the hospital, and she is also on the ball co-operating in the treatment of major traumas and being a first responder. The elderly residents of the nursing home wing of the hospital are also drawn as people in their own right, with histories and love stories and personalities – something you don’t see all that often in any fiction, let alone romance which tends to focus on the young. This story shines a light on the impoverished lives of many nursing home residents, and on the simple ways in which treating them as people can be so enriching.

And most interestingly, Lauren isn’t a chaste maiden, or even thereabouts – she starts the book with a reputation as the town “slut”. I like that her history of multiple partners isn’t treated in the narrative as a terrible thing. She is looked down on by some of the townspeople, yes, but this is portrayed as the prejudice and sexism that it is. I like that. A lot.

What I could do without: “sassy” and “curves in all the right places” made me roll my eyes. I also found the sex scenes to be rather formulaic – I like a book where it isn’t all nipple, nipple, a bit of oral, simultaneous copulatory orgasm, best sex ever.

But overall, this was a great read.

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