Elsa Goody, Bushranger by Darry Fraser. (2020).
**4 out of 5 stars**
**Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free copy of this novel; published 18 May 2020**
It’s 1896 in Robe, South Australia. Elsa’s brother and father have just died, and she and her sister Rosie are in trouble. Pursued by an unpleasant suitor, Elsa flees to Victoria on the hunt for a fortune in gold coins that her brother has hidden. Their quest is leading them to Ezekiel, the last man to see their brother alive. But on the way the women are beset by bushrangers and in the confusion the women are mistaken as being accomplices. When she finally catches up with Ezekiel, it’s clear to him she can do no wrong. But with everyone chasing her and violence on the horizon, life is increasingly complicated. Will she and Rosie ever manage to solve the mystery, find the gold and free themselves?
While I regularly enjoy historical fiction, it is normally from the first World War onwards. So when I saw this one was going back a bit further than that, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into it. But I’m happy to report that actually I really enjoyed it! It did start off a bit slow for me but then I got right into it, and was eagerly following the storyline wondering what would happen for everyone in the end. Elsa and Rosie felt like family by the end of the book, and I particularly admired Elsa’s spirit. I didn’t really like Rosie to begin with and then she grew on me as we learnt more about her situation. The widowed Ezekial was a great male lead and his young children sounded adorable, especially the youngest. With multiple perspectives included, it was good to get an all round view of several characters and what their thoughts and motivations were.
I think those that enjoy Australian historical fiction with a touch of romance would really appreciate this novel.