Here’s a unique book set down under in Regency times. Sarah Whitaker travels from England to Australia (which is called New South Wales at this time period) as a little girl to see her father. But when she learns that he has died just a few weeks before she arrives, her and her aunt are placed in a tough position. Australia is filled with criminals shipped there from England, but Sarah believes in her heart she must run her dad’s sheep ranch to honor his memory.
Ten years later, Sarah has defied the odds and become a successful businesswoman—much to the chagrin of her male counterparts. Hardened to the dishonesty of both her fellow ranchers and the felons in her employ, Sarah has learned one important truth: no one is to be trusted. Daniel Burton is a lucky man. Sentenced to death for his role in a horse race scandal, Daniel was granted reprieve thanks to the influence of his wealthy relatives. Now, rather than death, Daniel faces exile in Australia—an opportunity to put past mistakes behind him. But when he purchases land with the intention of farming it, he unwittingly arouses the wrath of his new neighbor, Sarah. What begins as a battle of wits, however, soon becomes a warm friendship—and perhaps something more. But when Daniel’s secret past is revealed, will Sarah be able forgive yet another deception?
I loved the historical details in this story–the tales of what life was like for convicts and citizens at this time, what early frontier Australia was like, the Aborigines, crazy Australia animal life, and so forth. I felt the author did a great job of transporting me to the land down under and making me care for the characters. I loved Sarah’s strength, and I adored Daniel’s optimism and determination to change his life for good. They were perfect for each other, and I loved their journey towards love. When feelings bloom between the two neighbors, Sarah believes her dreams are finally coming true. But when she discovers Daniel’s past, she may not be able to forgive or forget. Her life has been full of troubles and wounds from those she’s trusted before. She’s become cynical in this cruel country and doesn’t believe people can change. This was a great tale that had a little of everything–exotic setting, endearing characters with flaws and demons. Though it is a slower paced novel, it wove so many layers of mystery and emotion into each chapter that I eagerly kept turning pages. Overall, this is a solid, great read. I rated it a 5 on Amazon and Goodreads, and a 4 on my highly critical Sweet Scale. It was as delicious as a hot fudge brownie sundae, and I wanted to savor the message and words long after I finished it.
Book Link and Giveaway
Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart is available on Amazon, Deseret Book, and other venues. It has a great message and a touching tale, where the heart wins over the mind and brings happiness logic cannot. I love those kind of books.
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