(3.5) “I was not made to sit over a piece of needlework all day.”

With her father dead and her mother long *disappeared* Sara Dane falls in love with Richard Barwell, the younger son of a minor baronet. Thing go awry and she soon runs afoul of the law is unfairly convicted of petty theft and transported via prison ship to New South Wales (Australia). While on board, Sara hits a bit of luck when one of the lady’s maids dies and she’s chosen for the position – and once cleaned up the beauteous Sara attract the attention of all the men, including Andrew Maclay who is willing to give up his future to marry Sara and settle in the new colony.

Once wed, Sara is pardoned but the closely knit community continues to shun the former convict despite her and Andrew’s growing success and fortune. Not one to sit at home doing needlepoint, Sara is actively involved in Andrew’s business interests and the growing prosperity of the colony.  The novel covers about a twenty year period in Sara’s life as she struggles to keep her independence and freedom as well as her relationships with the four men who loved her but could never control her. Who will win her heart in the end – her first love Richard? The ambitious Andrew? The Irish rebel/convict Jeremy? Or the ever so smooth Frenchman Louis de Borget who would rather have his wife at home and not running the business?

All in all a pretty entertaining read and I learned a lot about the early days of what would eventually become Australia. I found it a bit predictable at times (you could always tell when one of Sara’s husbands was going to bite the dust…), and things really started to drag on a bit at the end, but still a worthwhile read – especially for those preferring a heroine with a bit more backbone and less helpless victim mentality. 3.5/5 stars.

Oh, and don’t let that first cover scare you off. This was originally published in the 1950’s and any sex is very tame by today’s standards. No bodices ripped here.

Heaven forbid that the FTC would care about a long lost OOP book but just in case – I got it from the library