Title: The Currency Lass
Author: Tea Cooper
Published: February 20th 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Australian
Rating: 4 stars
She can run but she can’t hide…
As her father’s only heir, Catherine Cottingham expects to inherit their sprawling property in the Hunter Valley. What she doesn’t understand is why her father is trying to push her into a marriage to the pompous and repulsive Sydney businessman Henry W. Bartholomew.
When the will is read it becomes clear money, or the lack of it, lay behind her father’s plans. Catherine is mortified — as a married woman all her possessions will pass to her husband, the overbearing Bartholomew. Her only alternative is to wait until her twenty-first birthday and inherit the property in her own right, but can she elude such a determined man until then?
A chance encounter with a travelling circus and its fiery lead performer, Sergey Petrov, offers the perfect solution and Catherine escapes to the goldfields. But there is more to the circus than spangles and sawdust and Catherine finds herself drawn into a far-reaching web of fraud and forgery…
Tea Cooper is a force to be reckoned with in the Australian historical fiction genre. I was first introduced to Tea’s work when I read The Horse Thief in 2015. Since then, I have also enjoyed The Cedar Cutter, which was also released by Tea Cooper last year. Cooper astounds me with her ability to weave compelling fictional narratives, around highly interesting historical events in Australia’s past. The Currency Lass is Tea Cooper’s latest release. It is a tale of greed, fraud, betrayal, love, friendship, freedom and finding your niche in life. The novel is set against the appealing backdrop of early Australia.
Catherine Cottingham is Tea Cooper’s heroine in The Currency Lass. Catherine is the only heir of her father’s property and fortune. Of late, Catherine has struggled to understand why her father seems to be pushing her into an arranged marriage with repulsive businessman, Henry W. Bartholomew. Catherine chooses to bide her time as she tries to fend off Henry Bartholomew’s advances as much as she can. However, the shock death of her philanthropist father sees Catherine placed in a difficult bind. She is unable to inherit her family’s property as a sole heir. Instead, all her fortune and property assets must be passed onto her husband. Catherine decides to stay hidden from Bartholomew, who has his eyes on Catherine’s inheritance until she turns twenty one. The law states that when Catherine is twenty one she can claim her inheritance as a non married woman. Whilst evading Bartholomew, Catherine finds solace in a travelling circus, which proves to be the perfect ruse. Catherine performs with Sergey Petrov, a leading horseman. Soon Catherine finds she is falling in love with Sergey but their new found love is overshadowed by the presence of fraud, forgery and the precarious world of the circus. When the past catches up with Catherine and Sergey, their future happiness is at stake.
I love the way Tea Cooper brings snippets of Australia’s past to our attention through her historical fiction titles. The Currency Lass was a superb read from the first to the very last page. I found myself completely taken aback by the characters and the situations in which Tea Cooper places each of her compelling protagonists in through this new book release.
Tea Cooper’s heroine in The Currency Lass, Catherine Cottingham, is a woman who is perhaps a little ahead of her time for a young lady of this era. She is a steadfast and autonomous but she also has a vulnerable side. We witness this when Catherine is rescued by the travelling circus, while trying to negotiate returning her late father’s body to rest. Catherine’s determination to claim what is rightfully hers, the family property Cottington Hill is admirable. I also liked the fact that she stuck to her guns in the romance field and refused to give in to marry a man who she clearly did not love. Catherine is also a brave and fearless young lady. Her willingness to dabble into the professional circus circuit was definitely a bold move. It is impossible not to develop an early and long lasting affection for this leading lady. I also hoped that Catherine would escape the awful clutches of Bartholomew and claim her birthright!
The historical aspect of The Currency Lass was well executed by Tea Cooper. Set in the Hunter Valley and Bathurst regions of NSW, areas which I am not very familiar with both in the past in present day, didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the novel at all. I was completely enthralled with all the elements of this historically based novel. Tea Cooper has a wonderful way with words, she manages to bring Australia’s past to full fruition. The result is a highly animated and historically grounded story. I thoroughly enjoyed the aspect of The Currency Lass that focussed on the tough life experienced in the goldfields and the vibrancy of life within a travelling circus. My enjoyment of the historical aspect of The Currency Lass is influenced by the dedication to research Cooper has devoted to ensuring her novel is accurate and reflective of Australia’s past.
The Currency Lass is a book that has many elements to offer the reader. From a love triangle, plenty of romance, characters you love or hate, a cracking colonial past setting and a narrative packed full of drama. I highly recommend this title to lovers of Australian historical fiction and romance readers.
The Currency Lass by Tea Cooper was published on February 20th 2017 by Harlequin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Currency Lass, Tea Cooper, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.