White Gum Creek, by Nicole Hurley-Moore

For an instant as he approached the counter, there was a warm, tingly flare erupting somewhere in her core. She told her friends – she even told herself – that all she wanted to do was reach out and help this guy. She didn’t exactly know how she was going to go about it but he needed to be around people again.

When his wife died in a tragic accident, Nick Langtree became a recluse, living alone in a caravan on his farm, punishing himself for Sophie’s death. But it’s been six years and his friends think it’s time he forgave himself and allowed himself some happiness. Tash Duroz, in particular, wants to reach out to him. But deep down she knows she’s kidding herself that she just wants to be friends with Nick. What she feels is something else.

Nick is hardly aware of Tash, though he appreciates her friendliness when she serves him at the bakery. he is, though, willing to start getting his life back on track. If only strange things didn’t keep happening around the farm. It’s almost as if Sophie is haunting him – but maybe there is someone who has a grudge against him.

White Gum Creek is a story about dealing with heartache and grief and forging new beginnings, as well as friendship and self-forgiveness. With an element of mystery to keep the story moving forward, it is a satisfying, engaging read.

White Gum Creek, by Nicole Hurley-Moore
Allen & Unwin, 2018
ISBN 9781760631109

The Country Practice, by Meredith Appleyard

The Country PracticeMeghan’s heart jumped into her throat when she heard the crash and then a cry for help. She tossed aside the magazine and ran out of the tearoom and up the corridor. he roudned the corner by the nurses’ station and lammed headlong into a man’s solid chest. He was tall, immovable and it felt like she’d run into a wall – a warm, human wall smelling of dust and sweat.

Meghan Kimble has always dreamed of being a rural GP, but since she graduated she has been on a different path. Now, though, freshly returned from a stint in a London Emergency Department, she is on her first placement as a locum in a small country town. No sooner has she arrived than she is dealing with the life and death decisions that a doctor must make, alongside the more mundane, but equally important aspects of her job. Magpie Creek has been without a regular doctor for a while, and while she is made to feel welcome, the job is not without its complications.

When she meets Sean Ashby he seems one complication too many. Not only does she not want a new relationship, but Sean himself has a past that makes him not keen to fall in love. But as her month in Magpie Creek hurries past, Meghan isn’t sure she’ll be able to leave the town, and Sean, behind.

The Country Practice is a rural romance with a medical flavour. While love is front and centre, the story also deals with many issues facing rural communities, and particularly rural doctors.

Meghan and Sean are likeable, believable characters, with strengths and flaws, supported by a diverse cast, making The Country Practice a satisfying read.

The Country Practice, by Meredith Appleyard
Penguin, 2015
ISBN 9780143799634

Available from good bookstores or online.

Man Drought, by Rachael Johns

The pub had definitely seen better days, and she knew not everyone would see it how she did when she closed her eyes, but just looking at the old place made her heart feel lighter than it had in years. Two years, five months and four days to be precise. But no more counting. No more dwelling on the past.
Her new life started today.

Still hurting from the loss of her husband two years ago, Imogen Bates decides it’s time to make a fresh start far from the city. In the town of Gibson’s Find, three hours East of Perth, she comes across a country pub which is for sale, and sees an opportunity. The pub may be run down, but she has grand plans for getting it up to scratch. Most of the locals are pretty happy to have a new woman in a town which has a serious gender imbalance, but Gibson Black doesn’t seem to share the other men’s enthusiasm.

Gibson used to believe in love, and dreamt of starting a family. Now he’s sure that women – especially city women – are trouble. He has no intention of falling for anyone, even a hot redhead like Imogen.

Man Drought is a warm, endearing rural romance set in Western Australia. The fictional town of Gibson’s Find is set on the border of the farming country and goldfields region on the way to Kalgoorlie. As well as the central romance, there are issues explored including the gender imbalance in regional Australia, family dynamics, ageing and friendship. As a result, the sizzling romantic tension between Imogen and Gibson is set against the backdrop of a sense of community and character development.

Man Drought

Man Drought, by Rachael Johns
Harlequin Mira, 2013

Available from good bookstores or online.