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Review: The Bushranger’s Wife by Cheryl Adnams

The Bushranger’s Wife 
Cheryl Adnams
Harlequin MIRA AUS
2020, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

How do you tame a wild colonial boy? With an even wilder colonial girl.

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 and her lack of fear in the face of danger.

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 favourite necklace. His price for the locket’s return is a kiss-a kiss that ignites sparks in 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.

But as life becomes more complicated, will the return of dark elements from Jack’s past ruin their chance at happiness?

This was okay…but I didn’t love it.

Prudence is travelling with her grandmother all the way from England to a place near Ballarat in Victoria, where her uncle has grown his wealth on the goldfields and built an elegant mansion. Along the way they are robbed by “Jack the Devil”, a notorious bushranger who loves snatching jewels but prides himself on not being violent. Prudence cannot hide her excitement at the hold up being a bit of an adventure, until Jack the Devil forces her to surrender her locket, a cheap trinket but the only thing she really has that reminds her of her mother. Later on, Prudence meets Jack Fairweather, a local businessman, whom she recognises as Jack the Devil (or really, he basically tells her) and they make a bargain. And the later on, when Prudence discovers her grandmother deceived her on something, she flees to Jack and decides to marry him.

I think for me, just neither of the characters were really appealing. Jack is arrogant and I was always looking for a deeper reason that he was a bushranger, that he thought robbing people was justified, or a legitimate way of making money but there was really nothing there, for him, it was just easy. He was just a thief. And he was so proud of himself because he wasn’t violent, like it put him so much further above other bushrangers who might injure or attack, especially young women. Look ok, good for you Jack, you’ve never killed anyone. But you’re not exactly worth bragging about, are you? Stealing people’s belongings, in some cases, irreplaceable belongings is not something to admire. Also, I found it odd that he gave his identity up so quickly to Prudence, even though he could sort of tell she’d found the whole hold-up thing intriguing rather than frightening. It just didn’t seem a good idea, to go around revealing his secret past time so easily. He basically does it 2 minutes after they meet when he is in his “businessman” persona. And Prudence is often just too dumb to live, she’s weirdly excited by being robbed, thinking it’s an “adventure”. She’s been raised in a life of wealth and privilege but it bores her and she wants more – so when she hooks up with Jack, she decides she wants to go along and rob people too. Honestly. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to see her as brave and feisty, wanting to do what the men do but that whole part just didn’t do it for me. She’s like one of those women in TV shows who insist on going everywhere and doing everything and then turning out to be incredibly good at it, even better than those who have been doing it for years. I just didn’t find their shared past time romantic or enjoyable to read about. I also found it somewhat amusing when they were offended at the local police officer questioning Jack or being interested in his movements, because how dare they assume that Jack might be an actual bushranger when he is um *checks notes* an actual bushranger.

There were elements I enjoyed – the descriptions of the local area, even Prudence’s struggle against the life she was being groomed for, marriage to an eligible man and a life of running a household and coordinating staff, etc. Prudence’s troubled relationship with her grandmother was also very well done. The old woman was quite formidable and she made many mistakes with Prudence in order to save face in such times and ended up paying the price. The writing itself was good – just didn’t really like the bush ranging aspect, which kind of was a core point of the story. But I guess I just don’t find crime romantic! I tend to feel very much the same about modern day OMC books. The tension was built well also, towards the end of the novel, although I did find the ending a bit lacking, a sort of neat fix and kind of irrelevant to the main plot in terms of the whodunnit.

This was a quick read but a mixed bag for me personally.

5/10

Book #6 of 2021

 

The Bushranger’s Wife is book #2 of The Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2021

It is also book #1 for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for 2021

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Author Guest Post: Cheryl Adnams

Today I’m pleased to welcome Australian author Cheryl Adnams to the blog. Cheryl is the author of two romance novels, Bet On It and Chasing The Flames (you can read my review of Chasing The Flames here). Cheryl is bravely tackling the topic of how authors really feel about reviews!

Cheryl Adnams LR

When my first novel ‘Bet On It’ was released in May this year, I hadn’t given much thought to reviews.  I’d never even heard of Goodreads until I had my own novel published.

So when I received my first glowing review, and 4 stars, wasn’t I excited and oh, so very proud of myself. From that point on I looked religiously, five times a day to see if there were any more reviews sitting there waiting to just boost my spirits and make my day.

Five stars, wahoo! Four stars, nice. And so it went on. I booked the marching band, ordered the French champagne and celebrated being the next big thing.

And then my world came crashing down. A 2.5 star review. I poured over the scathing remarks, the digs at the story, the slicing and dicing of the characters who were now like family to me. Devastation and depression set it. The champagne was no longer celebratory but medicinal.

One bad review and I started to question my writing style, my story and my right to even be a published author. After all, the reviewer must be an expert in the field right? It didn’t matter to me that I had multiple 4 and 5 star reviews. That one bad (and quite frankly nasty in some parts) review was the one that I held onto with my poor wounded heart and soul. I should say that the reviewer gave me the stars for the good writing and editing. So it wasn’t all bad. But I chose to ignore that morsel of good.

So why is it that we only hold on to the bad things people say about us and let them cast a shadow over all the good reviews?

In the last few months, I have met many wonderful romance authors through writers groups such as SARA (South Australian Romance Authors) and at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August this year. And found there are several different modus operandi authors follow to deal with reviews.

Some will read only the good reviews and ignore the bad. Others choose not to read their reviews at all – and wow that takes a massive amount of self-control. One of the best responses I heard though is:

‘This reviewer is not my fan base’.

It’s a simple as that. As in everything in life, not everyone will like what you write. Not everyone likes who you are. Not everyone likes what you wear. It’s part of life and accepting that was the answer to turning my medicinal champagne back to celebratory champagne.

Just one last note and a word to my fellow authors :

Nasty and hurtful reviews say more about the person writing the review than they do about the author or the book they are reviewing. Shrug it off and choose to celebrate your fan base.

***

Thank you Cheryl for your post – interesting thoughts. As a reviewer, I tend to feel very differently about negative reviews but can appreciate how they may be difficult for those that write.  If anyone has any comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Chasing the Flames - cover imageThis author guest post is part of the Chasing The Flames blog tour, organised by Random Romance of Random House Australia. You can check out more information about the tour, including the full schedule here

Previously on the tour: Monique at Write Note Reviews has another guest post from Cheryl which you can see here

Next on the tour: Connect With Chick Lit also has a guest post which will be featured on the 13th October

Chasing the Flames - Blog Banner

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