Australia, 1800. Isabella OShea arrives on a prison boat, just one of hundreds of convicts to be sold as a slave in Botany Bay. She hates men, having been raped and then convicted of assault, and she especially hates the English - and she's about to become the indentured servant of a wealthy, ambitious Englishman, a man called 'Tiger'. A man who has decided to make Isabella his own. But he hasn't counted on her fierce pride or her determination to be free, no matter what the cost. Set against a background of the Australian penal colonies and the wild interior, this amazing love story will take you on an unforgettable adventure.
Life has not dealt kindly with 19 year old Isabella (Bella) O'Shea. Arrested on the poverty-stricken streets of the London slums for wounding a member of the British aristocracy who raped her, it is understandable that she loathes members of the upper class and the system that punished her; sentenced her to seven years transportation to New South Wales.
She is quite prepared to hate the man she is assigned to, Tiger Carstairs, mistakenly thinking him an aristocrat. In the early 1800s the penal colony of Botany Bay was an unforgiving and harsh place. Tiger Carstairs is rich, ambitious and English—so is it any wonder she is determined to detest her new master. Tiger dreams of making a new life beyond the aptly named Blue Mountains, so called because of the perpetual haze of blue surrounding them.
Blue Haze is a story of courage and persistence—traits that were essential for the settlers who carved out a new life in a raw land where suffering and heartbreak were commonplace. Bella and Tiger face tragedy and many hardships in their quest for a new life in this untamed land.
It took some time to bring all the prisoners to shore. Isabella was close to fainting with the heat before the final boatload was set down.
At a signal from one of the officials a gentleman came out of a building. Moving with stiff precision to the centre of the dockyard, he stopped, then wiped his face on a white kerchief as he cast his eyes along the row of women. Unsmiling, he announced, "On behalf of Governor Macquarie I welcome you to New South Wales."
"God bless me, if he don't sound like 'e's really glad to see us who've come from the other side of the world at the King's pleasure." Gracie chuckled. "Nice of Governor Macquarie to send one of 'is codgers to make sure we're all 'appy to be 'ere."
"Yes, happy as larks," Isabella retorted in a sharp whisper.
"As you know," the man went on, "you have been allocated quarters or assigned masters. These good men," he gave the officials a stiff smile, "have spent many hours taking your particulars to ensure that everyone goes to an appropriate place of employment. You will show your allegiance to these masters. If you work hard to prove you're of some worth to the new colony you will earn your freedom as many others have before you." Obviously bored, he ran his eyes along the row of sweltering women. "Many of you will be in far better positions than you would ever have hoped to attain in England." He turned and strode back into the building.
Isabella blew upwards in an effort to cool herself. She'd only taken in half of what that man had said. She was a prisoner, for all his fancy words. Still, in the long run, better to work here, hopefully in some nob's kitchen, than to rot in a prison back home. Or face the hangman's noose.
Home? It was so far away and so far removed from where she stood now, that it seemed as if the years before she'd been arrested had been lived by another person. But for all their poverty she'd always known what it was to be a part of a close, loving family. Oh how she missed her ma, and her brothers and sisters.
Isabella ignored the leering looks they received from men scurrying to off-load cargo. Her legs felt as if they would give out on her at any moment. Her bad foot with its crooked toes was aching fiercely and she began to sway.
At last they were herded to where a stern government clerk sat at a table, a ledger in front of him and a pen in his hand.
Gracie poked Isabella in the back. "I 'ope I get a strong 'ansome master," she said with a chuckle. "Like that one with the gold 'air over there. Look at 'im. Lord, 'e'd do me fine. 'E's been staring 'ard at us since we came ashore. Stands out from the other lot like a boil on yer nose, don't 'e? Rather a dandy, I don't mind saying so. I'll warm 'is bed any time 'e likes."
"Can't say I noticed him," Isabella lied.
"Oh no, suddenly you're blind, eh?"
"One member of the gentry's the same as the other. They can all rot in hell." Isabella shuddered. She detested them all, with their fine clothes, finicky manners, and hearts as cold as stone.
"You may sit on the ground, ladies." The officer in charge gave the order, then smirked as he marched away.
"Cripes, why didn't they tell us that before?" Gracie sank with a huge sigh onto her ample bottom. The others followed her.
* * *
Tiger Carstairs removed his hat, then ran his fingers through his sweat-dampened hair. Smiling grimly he pushed the hat back on as he turned his back on the bedraggled lines of women.
What a bunch. They didn't get any better. Still, one female had caught his eye. She was a bit short on flesh to cover her bones, but there was a light of defiance in her eyes that the dreadful journey with all its degradation hadn't snuffed. She'd stared right at him from eyes as green as the sea as she'd limped past, her spine straight as a broomstick. He liked that.
Yes, she'd do perfectly.
She was young, if not very hearty. Thelma had told him to keep his eye out for one who didn't look as if she'd be off in a flash with any man who showed up at the back door. This one hated men, if that glower she'd given him was anything to go by. So blatant was her scorn he'd fully expected her to spit in someone's eye. The sunshine had picked up glints in hair that would probably be reddish-brown after a good washing. But the wench had really taken his fancy, stirred some deep emotion in him. It was an unnerving sensation, peculiar in its uniqueness.
"Ho, Tiger Carstairs, after a new woman to warm your bed?" called one of the other men who'd come to inspect the new arrivals.
Tiger eyed the man coldly. Half of these poor dregs of humanity would end up as bed-warmers for this lot. Still and all, most of the females who'd landed today had whored in London and on the journey over, so the new life in the colony would hold no surprises for them.
"No, Mackenzie. Believe it or not, some of us are merely looking for women capable of keeping our homes clean and our stomachs full." Tiger looked away, watching the hustle and bustle of unloading.
Mackenzie's laughter was coarse as he walked away. Probably rum-soaked as usual. Tiger sauntered over to the table where Gregson sat with his list of assignments.
"The wench there with the cropped red hair, who's to take her?" he asked indolently. "I'd like her."
"Have to wait your turn, Carstairs. She's been assigned. I have your woman already noted. Let me see..." Gregson ran a finger down his list, then said, "Ah, yes, you have been allocated one Moira Paine."
"I don't want one Moira Paine unless it's that wench." Tiger pointed to the red-haired girl. She was staring at her feet, looking for all the world as if she was unaware of what was going on around her. Or had cut herself off from it all.
Gregson peered along the line to the woman in question. "What would you want with a scrawny wench like that, eh?" He shrugged. "Mind you, she has the makings of a beauty, I suppose."
"I care not for looks, old chap." Tiger knew he lied. "My kitchen woman needs a girl to help. This one looks capable."
"Oh aye." Gregson chuckled. "She does look capable enough." He leered, and Tiger hid a grimace of disgust. These men all had one thought in mind where women were concerned, and that was having them on their backs with their legs spread. "Hold on, old man, we're about to start allocating now."
Tiger eyed Gregson with annoyance. With a look along the line he saw that the wench in question still stared at her feet. His heart gave a strange lurch, unsettling him.
Anita Hartsell at The Romance Studio
Blue Haze is an emotional read. It carries you along on the adventure of two people in learning to recognize love's value in their lives.
Isabella is transported to Australia after attacking, with a knife, the wealthy Englishman that raped her. Being the child of rape along with other experiences in her life has resulted in her mistrust men. Especially wealthy Englishmen.
Timothy (Tiger) Carstairs' one ambition in life is to have enough wealth and postion that no one will ever be able to look down on him. With his questionable background, marrying someone from a family with high social standing is imperative. Arrogantly confident about his good looks and accumulated wealth, he sees no problem choosing a wife from the upper echelon.
Tiger sees Isabella fresh off the boat and obtains her contract of indenture. Sparks fly from the beginning. Mutual attraction accompanies the fact she hates him being a wealthy Englishmen. Tiger telling Isabella that he will not marry her does not stop him from acting on his attraction.
Their passionate encounters, as well as the hurt and anger these to people share with each other, will have you crying along with them. An adventure you will not want to miss. I highly recommend reading Blue Haze.
Deborah Brent for Romantic Times
Sometimes we in America forget that Australia is an equally young country, complete with tales of adventure about the settlement of the land. Blue Haze is one such story.
Isabella O’Shea was banished to Australia as punishment for stealing, though she was only trying to support her poverty-stricken family. She soon finds that she has a better life as a convict on Tiger Carstairs’ farm than she ever hoped to have in London. She tries valiantly not to like Tiger, but his good nature and good care overcome her intense hatred of the English.
Tiger Carstairs is not what he seems. He doesn’t hide his convict past from Isabella, but he doesn’t share it with her either. He is a man with a dream and following that dream could cost him everything he holds dear.
In this story of love, adventure and hardships, we see a man and a woman work together to survive and overcome the harsh land that is Australia.
A thoroughly enjoyable book, well written and exciting.
Emily Anne at Sensual Romance Reviews
"A well thought out historical romance novel"
March 1818 Sydney Cove, New South Wales
Isabella had been sent to New South Wales after being found guilty of attempted murder in England. All she had done was to try to defend herself from being attacked by a nob and in return she was brought up on charges of attempted murder. She's forced to be an indentured servant in a land far from home. Without friends or family she's unsure how she'll survive.
Tiger Carstairs went to the auction to find a girl to help in the kitchens. When he first sees Isabella he finds himself being attracted to her against his will. Ignoring the crude leers and comments of the auctioneer, he arranges for Isabella to be the women who goes home with him. Thus begins their life together.
Tiger and Isabella find themselves attracted to each other but they fight their love and the attraction. After a while Isabella starts to hope that they will be able to be together, but several misunderstandings break them apart. Will they be able to overcome the obstacles placed in their way and find a life together? Will they be able to admit to the feelings they have for each other and forgive the misunderstandings?
This was an enjoyable historical romance novel. The two main characters had a strong attraction to each other from the start and it was interesting to read about how they fought their feelings. The plot was well thought out and the characters were easy to care about.