The Next Season by Rachael Johns

In brief: Zoe returns to the only home she’s ever known at Wildwood Point, broke and broken. The first person she runs into is Shaun, her first love, who is also hurting after a failed relationship. Can they heal each other?

The good: It’s sweet with sexy moments, plus a chocolate café!

The not-so-good: I think I put on several kilos reading about the chocolate delights in the café!

Why I chose it: I will read whatever Rachael Johns writes!

Year: 2014

Pages: 96

Publisher: Harlequin Mira

Setting: South west Western Australia

My rating: 10 out of 10

Last year, I had great pleasure in reading a Christmas themed novella from Rachael Johns called The Kissing Season. It was set in a familiar area to me, the south west of Western Australia and had a beautiful feel to it. This year, the small country town of Wildwood Point returns in The Next Season. While it’s not a Christmas themed book, it captures the spirit of summer in Australia perfectly. Think long sunny days that seem to last forever and frequent trips to the beach. The Next Season has all that and more (like a chocolate café for example).

The book opens as Zoe is down on her luck. She’s left a relationship and is coming home to Wildwood Point, the only place that has felt like home. Clearing her debts before she fled, she also doesn’t have enough money to fill the petrol tank of her beloved pink car. As she sits forlorn on the side of the road, a car pulls up and asks if she needs help. It’s Shaun, who she was madly in love with as a teenager until she broke his heart. Now that they’re both grown up, can the former lovers become friends and perhaps something more?

This book is pure Rachael Johns magic. I loved the interactions between Zoe and Shaun and how they became less wary as their friendship developed. As they fell in love, I liked how each of them took a small step back and how this was revealed in their actions. Their relationship was built on solid foundations and I felt it was something I could believe in. Even though the book is a novella, the friends to lovers scenario didn’t feel rushed. In fact, it was rather beautiful! I’m pleasantly surprised at how much was in this novella, it felt like a full length book to me.

The story also has numerous other plots running through it, all told with grace and humour. Zoe’s relationship with her foster mum felt very real and Shaun’s pain after his breakup was tangibly sad. I enjoyed seeing what Hannah (from The Kissing Season) was up to and the entrance of sexy chef Toby was the (chocolate) icing on the (chocolate) cake! I’d love to see him find love in Wildwood Point; I don’t think there would be a shortage of willing participants.

I’m hoping there will be another instalment of the ‘Season’ books next year – they make for a wonderful read!

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