Blurbs and excerpts today from newly released books:
Nicole Alexander and Wild Lands
Barbara Hannay and The Secret Years
From bestselling author Nicole Alexander comes an epic novel of bravery, loyalty and impossible love that takes the reader on a spellbinding journey from the streets of early Sydney to the heart of Australia’s wild, untamed lands.
A woman in an untamed land. An Australian frontier on the brink of war…
New South Wales, 1837, and settlers in search of fertile country are venturing far outside the colony. Literally cutting a swathe through the bush with their bare hands, they lay claim to territory beyond government jurisdiction – and the reach of the law.
As she accepts a position on one such farm, seventeen-year-old Kate Carter is unaware she is entering a land of outlaws, adventurers and murderous natives.
Because the first people of this new world will no longer accept the white man’s advance, and retaliatory attacks on both sides have made it a frontier on the brink of war.
Into Kate’s path comes Bronzewing, a young white man schooled by a settler family yet raised within an Aboriginal tribe. Caught between two worlds, Bronzewing strives to protect his adopted people and their vanishing civilisation.
But as he and Kate will discover, ‘beyond the outer limits’ is a beautiful yet terrifying place, where it’s impossible to know who is friend and who is enemy…
Excerpt from Wild Lands by Nicole Alexander
Along the bank the men still dozed. Kate wandered through the trees, dragging a fallen branch behind her in order to find her way back. She’d not gone far and was admiring the lightly timbered country when she came across the skeletal remains of three humans. They lay where they’d fallen. Their clothes tattered by the wind, sun and rain, their swags in the dirt by their sides. It was such a dismal sight to stumble upon that Kate simply stood and stared. It was as if they’d not had the strength to carry on. Maybe they’d died of hunger, or perhaps the same creek that bogged the dray was also dry when they’d walked through here.
So intent were her thoughts that Kate didn’t hear the four blacks walk out of the scrub. They were upon her before she had a chance to run. Nervously she began walking backwards, aware they studied every move, conscious of the snapping of twigs as her mud-crusted shoes found purchase on the uneven ground. She reached for the pistol, her progress halted by a tree. She backed hard into the thick trunk, and screamed.
‘You alright, Missus? These blackfellas heard your mob is all.’ It was Joe. The guide joined the four blacks. ‘They okay. I tell them Mr George not sit down here. We just passing through.’
Her throat was dry and raspy. ‘The dray got bogged,’ Kate found her voice. ‘But it’s out now.’
One of the native men, a tall individual with a painted chest and a querying stare, approached her. Kate wanted to run. Instead she pushed her shoulder blades tight against the tree trunk, dug her nails into the bark and, although frightened, held her ground.
‘They heard of white man, but this one not seen white man, especially white woman,’ Joe explained.
That didn’t make Kate feel any safer. The black walked straight up to her and touched her cheek, rubbing her skin. Kate flinched and turned her head.
‘He think you spirit from across the sea, that beneath the paleness there will be black, maybe you dead family.’
Kate pushed the man’s hand away. ‘I don’t think so.’
Unperturbed, the Aboriginal ran a hand across her breast and shoulder then he fingered the material of her skirt. Finally he tried to lift her dress to see what was underneath.
She brushed his hand away. ‘Stop it.’
‘Step away.’ George Southerland was at her side, his musket lifted. ‘What did I tell you about wandering off?’
The blacks bolted, hiding behind some distant trees.
‘They not all see white man but they heard about white man’s thunder.’ Joe gestured to the musket. ‘No harm, Boss. I tell Missus they not see whitefella, they think you come across the sea from the place of the ancestors. They not realise there be more lands beyond the water.’
‘How can they not know that?’ Kate asked curtly. She suspected that Joe had enjoyed her discomfort.
‘ ’Cause they only know this land, they have no sense that there be more. You stay here long enough, Missus, then you too will learn this land enough. We don’t want no trouble with another.’
Discover more about Nicole and her other books on MEET NICOLE ALEXANDER
“From the wild beauty of the Australian bush to England’s rugged south coast, this is a deeply moving story of heartbreak, heroism and homecoming by a beloved, multi-award-winning author.”
When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery … until now.
How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?
As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.
Excerpt from The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay
A scene from the middle of the book, set in Cornwall…
A soft footfall on the carpet outside… and she glided out of the shadows.
‘George, you’re still up?’
‘Of course I am. I had to see you. Will you come outside with me?’
He only hesitated for a second, looking back in the direction of her parents’ rooms. ‘Sure.’
She had a fur wrap ready. Pulling it around her shoulders, she led the way, back down the stairs, out through a side door and into the bright, starlit night. ‘Let’s go to the boathouse. We can talk there.’
She wondered if he could hear the pounding of her heartbeats as they made their way together, over the damp lawn, to the little wooden hut beside the lake.
‘Was my father too awful?’ She had to ask.
‘No, he was perfectly reasonable.’ Just the same, Harry sounded tense.
‘But he demanded to know your intentions?’
After a beat, ‘Yes.’
It was too dark to read his expression. ‘And?’
‘And I told him I needed to speak to you first.’
‘Oh.’ This sounded more promising. Georgina almost hugged him with relief.
It was dark and gloomy inside the boathouse and she opened the little cupboard where lamps and candles were stored.
‘Here, let me,’ Harry said, as she fumbled with the matches.
He struck a match firmly. Light flared and Georgina handed him a candle to light, and then another.
‘That’s better,’ she said, as she set the candles in a pot of sand to cast their golden glow over the timber walls and floor and the cushion-lined benches. ‘I can see you now.’
But what she saw frightened her. Harry was standing stiffly to attention, watching her sadly. Too sadly.
She felt a knife blade flash of panic. ‘Harry, what is it? What’s the matter?’
A sigh escaped him. ‘I’m very afraid that I’ve made a regrettable mistake.’
‘How do you mean?’
His mouth twisted unhappily and he looked away through the wide doorway to the black glassy surface of the lake and a solitary white swan, limned by starlight.
Georgina couldn’t stand it, couldn’t bear the suspense a moment longer. ‘Harry, please don’t play games.’
‘That’s the last thing I want.’
‘You are going to ask me to marry you, aren’t you?’
‘That’s what I’d planned.’ He seemed to speak with difficulty, as if he was dragging the words out. ‘But I realise now that I was fooling myself.’
‘Why?’ The single word was a cry, a howl of despair.
‘George, I –’
‘You love me.’ Georgina didn’t care that she sounded desperate. Harry had told her that he loved her. So many times.
‘The thing is… I have so little to offer you.’
So there it was. Just as she had feared. Harry had been overawed by her family, by the estate, the titles. This was all going terribly wrong. Everything she held dearly was slipping out of her grasp.
Discover more about Barbara and her other books on MEET BARBARA HANNAY