Author: Rachael Johns
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Publication Date: April 20, 2020
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher via NetGalley

Something to Talk About is the hotly aniticpated sequel to Talk Of The Town, set in the small Western Australian towns of Walsh and Rose Hill. It’s been a while since we got to know Lawson and his son Ned, and their colourful cast of characters around town, but it won’t be long before you are right back there with them.

Tabitha Cooper-Jones is Lawson’s sister and she was a firm favourite in Talk Of The Town with many readers wishing for her to one day become a leading lady, which is quite apt for the eternal bridesmaid; everyone wanted her to get her day in the sun and happily ever after. Lucky for us, Johns listened and wrote Something To Talk About, taking us back to Rose Hill and all of the characters we grew to love; and those we didn’t.

Living in a small town means you know everyone there is to know and for the single farmer Tab it means you are one of the boys. She grew up with all the boys in town and her first love went off to begin a country music career when she was in the fight for her life. It leaves Tab heartbroken and terminally single.

Tab knows what she wants and she gets to the point where she just wants to go out and get it, and if that means doing it unconventionally then that’s what she’ll do. Tab has spent years proving that she can do anything she puts her mind to and her ‘little arm’, or lack of a man, isn’t going to stop her from achieving this dream either.

Fergus McWilliams is in town for a temporary teaching contract, Walsh seemed like the perfect place to hide out hoping to heal from a messy situation of his own. He just wants somewhere quiet to lose himself in his job.

Unfortunately for Fergus a single male in town is quite the attraction and he finds himself with a fan club in a matter of minutes, though the last thing he is looking for is an attachment.

Tab and Ferg have a few eventful meetings which don’t paint them in the best light and if first impressions are lasting then these two may not even manage a friendship, foot in mouth is a serious concern.

Johns explores Tab’s challenges with sensitivity and insight, allowing us to get to know a courageous and capable young woman with the strength and determination to overcome anything, but she also has quite a yearning for family and shares a close bond with her brother and nephew; a bond which has changed a little since her sister-on-law came on the scene.

Fergus is a new character and so hard to get a good read on. The man takes complex to new heights with his backstory and the way it has shaped him, the man it has made him. He is utterly determined that he couldn’t do something because of his upbringing and yet it is something he does every single day of his working life, and it was a vocation that he searched out to do exactly what he’s doing. Johns explores his character with depth and I couldn’t help but feel for him, I could understand the struggles he faces and why he faces them; but I still wanted to slap some sense into him.

Something To Talk About also introduces us to a four legged character that’s new to town and she’s a treat. Mrs Norris is a cantankerous cat who is far from impressed with her new living arrangements, she is definitely not a fan of Fergus but as it turns out… it’s actually just Fergus she has issues with. The inclusion of Mrs Norris in the story adds an interesting layer because we are left to wonder why she ended up with Fergus when the two have such an antagonistic relationship.

Ferg and Tab both face many challenges and have a lot going on in this story and I don’t want to venture into spoiler territory so I’m a little stuck on how much I should say.

The local show is fast approaching and a set of inconvenient circumstances mean that the main event isn’t the band that they organised months ago, at short notice they manage to secure an ex-local Country heart-throb, who just happens to be Tabitha’s ex and he seems determined to try and win her back… but the question is why.

Johns writes small towns with heart and humour, exploring all kinds of people and never shying away from a tortured past.

Something To Talk About is small town, big heart, community spirit and never giving up. Johns has woven a story that is as much about the characters as it is the romance, not to mention the beauty of the small town communities of Walsh and Rose Hill.

Rachael Johns has long been a favourite Australian author of mine and I especially love her rural stories and the small towns she creates. Something To Talk About is definitely worth the read whether you are a fan of rural reads or not and though it’s the sequel to Talk Of The Town it most definitely stands alone also.

Rachael Johns can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her Website.

Something to Talk About was read as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020, coming in at book #6

Something To Talk About is published by Harlequin Mira and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold. In these uncertain times it would be great to try and support a local bookstore, many of the ones in my area have put systems in place to fulfil orders even though their physical stores may be closed to the public.