Aussie Book Review: Man Drought by Rachael Johns

Man Drought Man Drought by Rachael Johns

Paperback (uncorrected proof copy)

Review copy provided by publisher

Harlequin Mira, January 2013

 Synopsis- Imogen Bates moved to the small rural town of Gibson’s Find to start a new life for herself after the death of her husband. Tired of being haunted by the painful memories of her old life, Imogen set her last remaining hopes on the little town and, in particular, pouring her heart and savings into restoring The Majestic Hotel to its former glory. But while the female-starved town might be glad to see a young woman move in, not everyone is happy about Imogen’s arrival.

Sheep and crop farmer Gibson Black once dreamed of having the kind of family his grandfather reminisces about, but he’s learnt not to dream anymore. Living in the mostly male town suits Gibson down to the ground…and he won’t have anyone — least of all a hot redhead from the city — change a thing.

Imogen has never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it concerns her last chance at happiness. She’s determined to rebuild the pub and create a future for the little town. But can she create a future for Gibson and herself, too?

 Review- The second rural romance novel by Australian author Rachael Johns, Man Drought is a tender story about a widow and a divorcee afraid of opening their hearts to love, again.

Set in the small, rural town of Gibson’s Find, Imogen Bates relocates to the male dominated community to run the local pub and start afresh. It’s been two and a half years since the love of her life-her husband- died in an accident. She’s convinced he was the one and she has no intention of becoming involved with anyone else, she’s forfeited any chance of finding happiness with a man or having a family.

Until brooding, sexy farmer Gibson Black catches her eye. He hasn’t moved past the disastrous end of his marriage and has vowed he will never marry again. But when feisty, red-head Imogen strolls into town she consumes his every thought. Quite happy with the low female population in Gibson’s Find, Gibson is confronted by the reality of his attraction to Imogen. So he does whatever he can to avoid the temptation which entails rudeness, avoidance and death stares.

The only man not to trip over his feet to talk to her, Imogen is intrigued by the sulky Gibson and determined to find out what she’s done to offend him and be friends. In the meantime, Imogen befriends his grandfather and bar attendant Charlie who is showing the first signs of a condition far more serious than just old age, and it is he who forces Imogen and Gibson to find a common ground.

When I first picked up Man Drought, I thought it would be about a town lacking in men (hence the title) when in fact it was the opposite. Man Drought became the name for the speed dating program (a.k.a farmer wants a wife imitation) that Imogen and her two friends Jenna and Amy set up in Gibson’s Find for women back in the city of Perth who want to find a man. This was such a great addition to the story and something Imogen really threw herself into. I also enjoyed the sub-plots with Imogen’s friends. Amy who was pregnant and delivers her baby in the middle of the pub and Jenna a socialite who finally finds the man of her dreams, in the outback. Imogen’s conflicting feelings about her friend’s happiness also felt very realistic with her happiness for them sometimes overpowered by the loss of her husband and envy over her potential to ever have a family of her own.

Initially I thought Imogen a little flighty and Gibson a bit dismissive, but this is because they are very well defended due to their previous experiences of pain and loss. The slow-building romance between Imogen and Gibson creates an avenue of friendship- once they get over their initial differences- and realise they are really quite similar in many ways.  When Imogen and Gibson finally succumb to their desires, the aftermath is also sensitively handled and wholly realistic. Imogen is overwhelmed with guilt and questions the solidity of her marriage when she so easily finds happiness in Gibson’s arms. Even when she finally managed to work through this and open herself to Gibson only to be faced with another loss when he reveals the truth behind his marriage break-down, Imogen doesn’t shy away from her feelings for Gibson.

Man Drought is a story full of stories of growth and hope for the future. From Imogen and Gibson growing individually and as a couple, Amy delves into motherhood much sooner than expected, Jenna experiences a mature relationship and Charlie faces his fears. But it’s not just the characters that come to life, it’s the town. Gibson’s Find grows and prospers with new residents and a newly renovated pub, it comes alive as a small-town community.

Man Drought is a sweet, contemporary romance set in rural Australia. It’s a story about accepting the past, embracing the future and taking a risk for a second chance at love.

Stop by tomorrow for my Q&A with Rachael Johns and for a chance to win a print copy of Man Drought (AU only).

Overall Rating


“I loved this book!”

Man Drought can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge:



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