#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · historical fiction · new release · romance

New Release Book Review: The Bushranger’s Wife by Cheryl Adnams

Title: The Bushranger’s Wife

Author: Cheryl Adnams

Published: January 6th 2021

Publisher: Mira – AU

Pages: 352

Genres:  Fiction, Historical, Romance

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 3.5 stars

He stole her locket … she stole his heart.

Central Highlands of Victoria, 1861

Jack the Devil’s reputation precedes him. The most notorious bushranger on the Central Highlands, nothing throws him off his game … until he holds up Prudence Stanforth and her grandmother. Jack can’t help but be captivated by the feisty Pru, with her sweeping red hair and complete lack of fear.

Weeks later, Pru crosses paths with the respectable businessman Jack Fairweather, and it’s not long before she recognises him as the bushranger who stole her beloved necklace. His price for the locket’s return is her silence … and a kiss. A kiss that sparks something inside them both.

When Pru discovers her grandmother has been keeping a devastating secret, running away with Jack the Devil is the perfect escape for her broken heart. The dangerous nature of his less-than-salubrious occupation is a poetic contradiction to her sheltered upbringing and only fuels their passion. Until that danger becomes a reality. Between the return of dark elements from Jack’s past and authorities intent on his capture, Jack and Pru must fight for their future together … or risk losing everything.

A rollicking historical tale about following your heart, finding home in unexpected places – and bushrangers – for readers of Darry Fraser and Alison Stuart.

Review:

‘A bushranger. A real live bushranger! And on her first day in Victoria.

She should have been terrified at being bailed up by a band of gun-wielding men in the middle of nowhere, but it had quickly become evident that their leader had no intention of hurting them. And at that point, for Prudence anyway, it had become an adventure.’

The Bushranger’s Wife offers a portal back to early settlement times in our nation’s past. A dangerous bushranger, a feisty young woman ahead of her time, a stolen necklace and an undeniable love tryst defines this heart pounding tale from Cheryl Adnams.

Opening in 1861 in Australia’s Central Highlands region of Victoria, The Bushranger’s Wife follows the story of a cheeky but notorious bushranger, who goes by the name of Jack the Devil. A successful player in the bushranger profession, Jack is caught off guard when he encounters a fiery red headed woman named Prudence Stanforth, who is accompanied by her grandmother on their fateful meeting. Jack holds up both women, but it is an encounter that he won’t forget in a hurry. Some time later, Pru comes face to face with the notorious Jack the Devil bushranger, but this time he is acting as a businessman. Taken aback, Pru demands that Jack return the precious family heirloom he stole, but Jack does Pru a deal in exchange for the beloved necklace. Pru must keep quiet about her knowledge of Jack’s bushranger antics and he demands a kiss to seal the deal. It is this kiss that forever changes both Pru and Jack’s lives. Pru follows her heart and seeks Jack’s love, despite the fact that she knows it is against her family’s wishes for her future. A family secret sends Pru further into Jack’s arms, but Pru knows it is a big risk to surrender herself to this dangerous criminal. With the police and other shady characters from Jack’s past set on capturing this prolific bushranger, Pru must decide if she should stick by her love, or return to her family.

The Bushranger’s Wife is cased in a beautiful cover, that immediately caught my eye. After reading The Girl from Eureka, which is also penned by Cheryl Adnams, I was keen to explore more writing from this Australian historical fiction storyteller. There was much about The Bushranger’s Wife that appealed to me and I have to say this was an entertaining read.

I would shelve The Bushranger’s Wife as a historical romance rather than a historical fiction title. This was the only drawback of the novel for me. I was expecting a historical fiction-based tale and this is a great tribute to colonial Australia. The adventure and action aspects are there, but I would say it is a lot heavier on the romance side of things. Personally, I prefer more history than romance, but for fans of the historical romance genre, The Bushranger’s Wife would appeal. I couldn’t fault the romance side of things, it is clear that romance is the author’s strength and it shows in this story.

In terms of the setting, Cheryl Adnams does a fine job of recreating the Central Highlands region of Victoria in the 1860’s. I got a good feeling for this time and place, which was defined by strict societal expectations, morals, class structures and gender roles. Pru is a female lead who surpasses the expectations of a woman of her time and social standing. It was good to see a woman break free from these restrictive barriers and express her own agency. In Jack we see a bushranger figure who is a little different from the norm. Jack is very handsome, charming and quite brazen. Cheryl Adnams works to build a forbidden style relationship between her leads. In doing this, Adnams looks beyond the courtship to the pressures of marriage. As a result, relationships, marriage, love, passion, betrayal, secrets, risk, the past and happiness all come into play. This is one fiery tale!

The Bushranger’s Wife by Cheryl Adnams was published on 6th January 2021 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Bushranger’s Wife, Cheryl Adnams, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Bushranger’s Wife is book #43 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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