The Last Truehart by Darry Fraser. (2020).
**4 out of 5 stars**
**Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free advance readers copy of this novel; published 2 December 2020**
1898, Geelong, Victoria. Stella Truehart is all alone in the world; her horrid husband has been murdered, her mother and grandparents are dead and her father disappeared before she was born. Private detective Bendigo has been tasked with finding Stella. He believes his client’s intentions are good but someone else is also seeking Stella. While Stella is fiercely independent, as danger mounts she agrees to work with Ben and soon they are traveling to Sydney to meet his mysterious client only to discover more questions.
What roles do a stolen precious jewel and a long-ago US Civil War ship play in Stella’s story? Will sudden bloodshed prevent the resolution of the mystery and stand in the way of her feelings for Ben? It is time, at last, for the truth to be revealed…
This is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. Part historical fiction, part romance and part mystery, it is a very easy and engaging read. Stella is an independent, intelligent and strong-willed woman who is confronted out of the blue with the information that someone knows about her father and is looking for her. Meanwhile Ben is the one who has made contact with Stella after being hired by a mysterious woman, but things are escalating fast with a clearly unsavory character also having a interest in Stella and a piece of jewellery that Stella knows nothing about… throw in the attraction between Stella and Ben and you’ve got yourself a fair amount of drama! Stella and Ben were interesting leads to follow and there was a whole cast of intriguing side characters that made for compelling reading. The storyline itself was done really well, it made you want to keep reading to find out the full story and what all the characters’ reactions would be when the truth was revealed.
I would highly recommend this novel for anyone that enjoys Australian historical fiction with a bit of mystery and romance.