The Convict and the Cattleman by Allison Merritt

The Convict and the CattlemanAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Lyrical Press

My Copy: Press

Reviewer: Pam

His love is the key to her release. Sentenced to seven years of servitude in the penal colony of New South Wales, Bridgit Madden is thrust into a world unlike anything she’s known, dangers she never imagined and enemies with their own interests at heart. Certain the conviction has ruined her chances of ever having a real family, she is fearful of her future. Despite his reluctance to take in a convict, grazier and pioneer cattleman Jonah Andrus needs a servant to care for his orphaned niece.

When presented with Bridgit, who is far too beautiful and distracting, he initially tries to refuse. However, with a busy cattle station to oversee, he needs help right away. Upon her first meeting with Jonah’s niece, Bridgit immediately falls in love with the baby and hopes to unravel the mystery surrounding her birth. As she gets to know her employer better, Bridgit makes it her mission to remind him that family is priceless. When it seems as though she might have found the place she truly belongs, their love is threatened by lies and deceit, and both of them might lose everything they hold dear for a second time.

New South Wales, Australia in 1840 is a wild place, with new settlers and convicts arriving daily to populate the country. I was intrigued with the setting of this book as I have always been fascinated with this country. The author takes us to this beautiful country full of interesting characters and a wonderful romance with a satisfying ending.

Jonah Andrus owns one of the largest cattle stations in Australia, Laurie Lark, and is in need of someone to take care of his niece immediately. As there are not many women living in Australia he goes to the penal house to hire someone, preferable an older woman, instead he finds a beautiful woman that will melt his heart.

Bridgit Madden has been incarcerated in Australia for six weeks; she is from Dublin and was arrested for stealing, trying to help hungry family. She now worries for her siblings back home and herself in this strange country. When she arrives at the ranch she is greeted by several people, some are very friendly while others such as Martha the cook and her daughter Millicent, give her the cold shoulder and will make her life miserable in the coming weeks. And as Bridgit and Jonah grow closer together there is jealousy and finger pointing that leads to danger for Bridgit.

This is an enjoyable romance, set in a place I rarely read about, New South Wales, Australia. I am familiar with how the country was mainly populated in the early years but I do not find many authors that write about the time period or the subject so this was a nice change. I really like Bridgit and could sympathize with her plight in Ireland, a hard time for families trying to survive. She knows she must pay and makes the best of it, I like her attitude and her resilience. Jonah is also very likable and although did not want a young woman on his ranch because of the temptation of his men, he decides to hire her and hopes for the best. I think he realizes the type of person she is on the drive to his station and begins to fall for her right away. Several secondary characters were enjoyable and brought life to the story, there is Rupert and his wife Fargana, Aborigines that help around the ranch, they both embraced Bridgit and make her feel welcome.

The story is fast paced and the attraction between Jonah and Bridgit comes on quick, which is my only concern but the way of life during the 1840’s in Australia is wild so I am sure it was not unheard of that they marry within months of meeting even though she was a convict, women were scarce in those times. Bridgit was fairly meek when she first met Jonah but her true personality came out after she got comfortable, she had to hold her ground with Martha and made some good friends with several women easily. There is a bit of danger and distrust that brings us to a conclusion but the drama is not too difficult and it is resolved swiftly, as with the romance, it was quick. I like the premises of the book, a convict who redeems herself and falls in love and would read another from the author as I enjoy her voice and the characters she created.

I give The Convict and the Cattleman by Allison Merritt 3.75 stars!

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