REVIEW: Lost Without You by Rachael Johns

In brief: When Rebecca finds out she has a life-threatening illness; a big secret needs to come out. How will her family react and how does this relate to her daughter’s quest for her mother’s wedding dress?

The good: Great story that kept me interested with the twists and coincidences.

The not-so-good: The characters react realistically, which is not always pretty.

Why I chose it: I love Rachael Johns’ books.

Year: 2018

Pages: 481

Publisher: HQ (Harlequin)

Setting: Sydney, Australia

Rating: 10 out of 10

With Lost Without You, Rachael Johns demonstrates her brilliance as a writer yet again. The story has a tangled, convoluted plot with some less than nice emotions displayed by the characters but she makes it all a pleasure to read. There are moments of anger and heartbreak but overall the book offers hope and love.

The story is primarily about the MacRitchie women, Rebecca and Paige. Rebecca collapses just as Paige’s boyfriend is about to propose but it’s not something simple. It’s a life changing – and potentially limiting – illness. Rebecca has got a lot to face in the coming months and she starts thinking about her deepest secret that not even her husband knows. Meanwhile, Paige said yes and is thinking about how great it would be to get married in her mother’s wedding dress. Unfortunately, her mother donated it to charity but Paige manages to track it to Josie. Josie’s life is in a bit of a mess after turning to drinking and smoking after multiple miscarriages. Paige is just the friend she needs, but it’s a chance meeting with a stranger that leads Josie to Clara. Clara is a volunteer counsellor and nurse and they help each other through the bumps in their lives. Then things become even more complex than any of them thought…

Lost Without You does contain some absolutely amazing coincidences and that’s one of the reasons I read and enjoy fiction. It would be mundane if there weren’t any links between the women and the coincidences were nice and twisty so I didn’t guess most of them! I think the links between the main characters helped to make the story more cohesive and easier for the reader to enjoy. Knowing the links between the women also made their reactions to various events more realistic. Some of the revelations were pretty deep – particularly one involving Paige – and I think her spectacular reaction was great. Not great for Rebecca, who had to deal with the fallout, but great for making her character flawed and vulnerable. Likewise, some characters have difficulty with forgiveness and/or acceptance but that’s life. You can’t forgive everything and expect it all to be sunshine and roses. I respected the characters a lot more for their hissy hits and honest, if unpopular, emotions. These are all strong, independent women and they can make their own choices without having to pander to anyone else. I think Rebecca was a great example of that. Her secret once revealed put her on the outer with many other people, but she stuck to her guns to satisfy what she wanted. She was also pragmatic about everyone not forgiving her straightaway, knowing there was a process to go through.

This novel is also officially a chunkster, but don’t let that put you off. The pages fly by because both the plot and characters are fascinating. Rachael Johns states that she writes life lit, but Lost Without You is not the five-day grind, but the unexpected in book form. This novel allows the reader to learn about several serious issues, but also have some fun. (If you’re an eighties enthusiast, there is plenty here for you!) The dialogue is convincing as it reads how people actually speak and overall, it’s just a winner. Expect Lost Without You to be on many beach towels this summer!

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