Sunday, March 16, 2014

His Convict Wife by Lena Dowling

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: November 8, 2013

For Irish convict Colleen Malone, being framed, transported to Australia and forced into prostitution seemed like the worst that life could throw at her. Then she fell pregnant to a client and was sent back to prison by her cruel owner. Now, her only hope of a decent life for her and her baby is to find someone to marry. Widower and former London businessman Samuel Biggs arrived in Australia hoping to put his grief behind him. When James Hunter offers him a job on his Parramatta farm, he accepts eagerly. He’ll put his back into his new work, and bury any thoughts of new love and marriage in the rich earth of his new home. However, all plans are compromised when Samuel is manipulated into visiting a workhouse to choose a new housekeeper, and Colleen seizes her chance — literally grabbing Samuel and begging for her life. The only way Samuel can oblige is by marrying her, but on one thing he stands firm — there is no way he will fall in love...

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I try not to jump into any series midstream, but I slip up from time to time. Thankfully, Lena Dowling's His Convict Wife is a standalone sequel so I wasn't at much of a disadvantage jumping into book two of the series. 

Not having read much Australian fiction, I found I really enjoyed the setting of this piece, as well as the convoluted backgrounds Dowling crafted for her cast. Taking her cues directly from the continent's colonial history, the narrative boasts an authentic atmospheric quality that held genuine appeal for this particular reader. 

A light romance, His Convict Wife is an amusing, if predictable, beach read. 

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Colleen would never forget seeing O'Shane's for the first time. It was as if a giant trapdoor had opened under her feet, dropping her down into a pit below. She and Nellie gasped at all the lamps hanging in the windows and the gangs of sailors drinking rum and gaming on the veranda outside. They might have been poor Irish convict girls, but they hardly had a sack of dag-wool each for brains. They knew a  brothel when they feckin' well saw one.
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