ARRA Winner of Favourite Debut Romance Author of 2021
1831, New South Wales
Reeling from her mother's death, Madeleine Barker-Trent arrives in the newly colonised Hunter River to find her father's promises are nothing more than a halcyon dream. A day later, after a dubious accident, she becomes the sole owner of a thousand acres of bushland, with only three convicts and handsome overseer Daniel Coulter for company.
Determined to fulfil her family's aspirations, Maddy refuses to return to England and braves everything the beautiful but wild Australian country can throw at her - violence, danger, the forces of nature and loneliness. But when a scandalous secret and a new arrival threaten to destroy all she's worked for, her future looks bleak ... Can Maddy persevere or should she simply admit defeat?
A captivating historical tale of one young woman's grit and determination to carve out her place on the riverbank.
'Richly detailed, inspiring and romantic - this engrossing story of a brave young woman overcoming insurmountable odds brings to life the early years of the Hunter Valley with clarity and authenticity.' - Tea Cooper, author of The Cartographer's Secret
An avid reader from childhood, Paula J Beavan grew up on a small property in the Hunter Valley, riding horses, mustering cattle and listening to the tales of local farriers, cattlemen and farmers. Her love of the land and its history together with a curiosity about the challenges faced by the pioneering women of the region led her to seek out stories of the area's early European settlers. Serendipitously, she discovered a family connection to William Harpur, local landowner and one of Australia's early surveyors. Inspired by this connection, she delved deeper to discover when William Harpur lost his sight, his wife Catherine managed their Hunter River property - a perfect illustration of the women she writes about.