May 20 2006
Dear Ms. Miles:
Update: The author, Ms. Bennett, was kind enough to send us a cover image for her book (Thanks Maili for the suggestion). And gave us an update on her writing endeavors.
I went on to be published in Australian mainstream as Lilly Sommers. I currently write historicals for Avon as Sara Bennett, and soon paranormals as Sara Mackenzie.
Continuing my reading of obscure books and settings (sorry, I intend no insult), I pulled this one out recently and read all 250 pages almost straight through. It’s an old Masquerade Historical set in 1838 Sydney and the Australian bush. Now, how often do we romance readers see that time and setting?
Bregetta Smith is up the creek without the proverbial paddle. She’s poor, her mother has just died and her brother is in trouble with the law. The law being the military law in Sydney cause her brother attacked a soldier who subsequently died. A sergeant named Alistair Duncan is after him now but Duncan can’t stop thinking about Bregetta. After her mother dies, he offers her a place in the house he rents and tells her he’ll get her a better job then the one she has in a tavern owned by her best friend’s sleazy husband.
She moves in with him and soon they become lovers (whoo-hoo, no wedding bells first here). But the issue of her brother comes between them, helped along by a meddling friend, and Bregetta leaves him to travel to a wild bush settlement and try to put her life back together. Just as she’s starting to settle in and is being courted by the local bigwig’s son, Alistair comes along as a newly promoted Captain to take over the barracks that have just been built. I like the fact that your reasons for seperating these two are realistic-can they overcome what drove them apart? does he love her or was he just using her as she was told? can she believe in a man who’s never told her that he feels anything for her but physical desire?
The setting of this one was a wonderful change. It starts in the slums of Sydney and moves to the primitive bush. No lords and ladies and fine carriages here. And once Bregetta starts to sleep with Alistair, she doesn’t put on any missish regrets but enjoys it as much as he does. The info about living in the bush makes me quite happy to have a local grocery store and all the 21st century comforts. You do throw in some misunderstandings but they were believable to me. The last chapter kind of falls down a bit as they go into introspective mode and explain things to each other but overall this one was a pleasant surprise. I’d give it a B.