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I don't know what it is about Australia-based romance, but every time I read one, I feel like we need more Australia in our lives. The history of Australia is one that I don't think is taught enough in American schools, and I find it so rich and fascinating. This being a historical romance taking place in the late 19th century, you get an idea of what life was like back then, the different social classes among the people in the Australian bush, and how much of English society was brought over into the local society. Sonya Heaney did a superb job bringing 19th century Australia to life.
When Alice Ryan hears a man's voice outside her home and realizes that it's not her brother, she knows she's in danger. Living alone in New South Wales is not wise for a young woman, and with her brother off doing God knows what, she has only herself to rely on. In her haste to escape the men surrounding her home, she ends up on Farrer land, owned by a wealthy young man named Robert Farrer. Recognizing Alice as his neighbor, Robert takes her in and ensures she is safe in his home. However, neither expects the drama that ensues from such a scandalous arrangement, and soon they are forced to take drastic measures to ensure their futures are secure. Danger and secrets abound in this story of two people from entirely different worlds who find strength in each other and in themselves.
Alice was a riot! I loved her strength, her sense of humor, and her willingness to accept people for all their flaws. She was a lovely, admirable character, even though her youth definitely shone through on occasion, in how she handled certain situations. Her determination to persevere in spite of the challenges she faced endeared her not only to the reader but also to the hero, Robert. Robert's character was shy, generous, and forgiving, wanting to think the best of others and willing to lend a hand and ear to anyone who needed them. It was only natural for him to assume the role of protector for Alice, even if she didn't think she needed him at times. Their loves was a slow, gentle thing, but I loved how it blossomed into a strong relationship. It was amusing to see them interact as their lives progressed from mere acquaintances to much, much more.
Definitely an author to keep my eye on! I loved her writing style, her unique characters, and her wonderfully educational setting for her story.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**