An Australian historical romance about a woman with a past who is fighting with everything she has for her future.
All of Sydney knows she was a convict and a prostitute, but Nellie Malone is now the manager of the ‘Tullamore’ Inn, a respectable businesswoman who makes her living on her brains and hard work – no longer on her back.
But when gentleman Harry Chester, fresh to the colonies, shows up at the Tullamore with papers of ownership and plans to collect rent, Nellie’s carefully controlled world is sent into a tailspin. She has barely enough money to keep her doors open, let alone pay an owner the rent he is demanding.
The Tullamore is Nellie’s home, her hope, and her freedom all tied up into one, and she will do anything to save it. Now, she has to decide what she is willing to sacrifice to hold on to the dreams for a future she’s only just beginning to realise.
My heart went out to Nellie, our heroine, and very often I was so furious when I read what had happened to her that I had to stop reading. Harry tries very hard to do the right thing but alas, he is a man at a time when few men considered a woman their equal in any way and he is also limited by the expectations of a society he shuns but to which he has to bow to nontheless. Not the best combination when it comes to doing bussiness with a woman, especially a former prostitute. He tries but ...well.
I really enjoyed this story, even though some parts of it were rather hard to read due to the circumstances in which our heroine and our hero find themselves. Apart from the well developed characters and the well plotted story, I was really impressed by the picture drawn of the country. Knowing that Australia was used as a place where criminals were brought to is one thing, another thing is, when you realize what that meant for the society and the people living there.
Of course I also knew that not everybody who was deported, really was guilty of the crime he or she was accused of but to read about it? To read about people who suffered due to such machinations, such injustice - that is something else. Their life was torn apart, they were shipped of to some foreign country and had no chance to ever see their families and loved ones again. Sometimes mistakes were made, sometimes somebody accused them falsely and they seldom had a chance to prove their innocence.
Nellie and Harry are a wonderful team, working hard to make their dreams come true but will that be enough? And is there a chance for Nellie to become really happy at last? Or will their enemies win?