From Escape Publishing’s Queen of historical Australian romance comes a new story about a privileged member of Australian’s colonial squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.
Born into the rough, but still privileged society of the Australian colonial landowners, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and, much to her distress, back under her father’s thumb, all before her twenty-first birthday. Determined not to forgo her dream of breeding the perfect racehorse, Lilibeth ignores propriety and sets out to restore the family’s flagging fortunes.
When Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven horse stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. All they have to do is hold the daughter for seven days. How hard will controlling a pampered farmer’s daughter be?
This Victorian era historical romance has such a strong sense of Australia and colonial life in it. It’s well-researched and uses the Australian setting to create a story that couldn’t happen in any other time or place.
Lily’s Leap is a novella, but I think the length allowed for a pretty complex story. Romance in novellas tends to lead to rushed relationship development. I didn’t find that to really be the case here, apart from some very early mental lusting on our hero’s part, in particular about her purple(!) eyes.
The whole colonial/pioneer theme is a big deal for historical romances with American settings, but it’s really not at all common for books set in Australia. It’s a real pity, especially as the stakes were so high for settlers in the nineteenth century. There’s no other landscape as unforgiving, and there was so much that was still unknown. Distances were huge and the land was so isolated from the Europe people knew.
This book had plenty of action and adventure, which is something I’d like to see more of in the genre, too. I’d just read a whole lot of books set around this time period (1848), but taking place mostly in English ballrooms, and I appreciated the change of pace.
This was a pretty solid little read.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.