The Work Wives by Rachael Johns is the latest standalone by the popular West Australian author. I enjoyed much of this novel about two women – work friends, but very different and at very different stages of their lives.The Work Wives
by Rachael Johns
Published by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Romance, Women's Fiction
For work wives Debra and Quinn, it's a case of opposites attract. They are each other's lifelines as they navigate office politics and jobs that pay the bills but don't inspire them.
Outside work, they are also friends, but where Quinn is addicted to dating apps and desperate to find love, Deb has sworn off men. Although Deb is not close to her own mother, her teenage daughter is her life and there's nothing she wouldn't do to protect her. But Ramona has other ideas and is beginning to push boundaries.
Life becomes even more complicated by the arrival of a new man at the office. One woman is attracted to him, while the other hoped she'd never meet him again.
But when Deb, Quinn and Ramona are forced to choose between friends, love and family, the ramifications run deeper than they could ever have expected.
I think I expected the novel to be more centred around workplace relationships and friendships and office politics. But the ‘work’ side of things features very minimally. Deb and Quinn’s workplace serves more as a backdrop and vehicle for the introduction of a character who engenders very different reactions from the women.
When we meet them Quinn’s juggling men and dates from a myriad of dating apps; while Deb, on the other hand, is completely invested in her daughter’s life with no interest in romance. The women swap positions however – Quinn detoxing from apps for a while and taking an old school approach to finding love, while Deb (realising her daughter Ramona is spreading her own wings) starts dating.
The book opens with the introduction of a new arrival at work, before dipping back to three months earlier – where we remain until catching up with the present.
This is a long book (at over 500 pages) and Johns touches on a myriad of weighty issues (domestic violence, gaslighting, bullying, social media addiction / reliance, sexism in the workplace, motherhood… and more), but I wondered if she tries to do too much, not really digging too deeply into any and straddling a number of genres.
Although I liked Deb, the character of Quinn felt a little underdeveloped and she came across as a bit of a caricature – addicted to dating apps, roller skating to work, stalking a guy she runs into… though I did enjoy the relationship she developed with an elderly neighbour.
My favourite character was Ramona, Deb’s teenage daughter. Newly arrived at a new private girls school to pursue fashion. It’s a smidge cliched with Ramona keen to hang out with the cool girls, eschewing a potential like-minded friend. Thankfully another new friend (and potential romantic interest) confronts her about her behaviour and the reversal of her brief foray into elitism takes place fairly quickly, without becoming overly-dramatic.
I enjoyed elements of this such as Deb’s reticence to start dating and liked the pragmatic approach and lack of game-playing in her quest for love. I probably would have been happy without the new arrival and some of Deb’s backstory as the coincidence around his connection to Deb and Quinn was a bit saga-like for me.
I appreciate that Johns always tackles some complex themes, but I think she tries to do too much here, but of course realise this may appeal more to others.
The Work Wives by Rachael Johns was published by Harper Collins and now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.