Source- Review copy
Publisher- Hachette/ Hodder
Publication date- 3rd May, 2012
Synopsis- Ismay Deagan has one wish in the world to leave Ireland and join her brother, Bram, in Australia. But her father has other ideas and orders her to marry their vicious neighbour Rory Flynn, even though she can’t stand him.
After Rory brutally attacks her, Ismay runs away, disguising herself as an impoverished young widow. When she meets Adam Tregear on the ship, she finally starts to believe her dreams of future happiness may come true.
Before she reaches Australia, however, she’s flung into adventures in Suez, Ceylon and Singapore. Dare she tell Adam the truth about who she really is? Does he have secrets of his own? Or will her past catch up with her and ruin her new-found happiness?
Review- The Trader’s Sister is the second book in the Trader’s series following The Trader’s Wife (read my review). This series is a spin-off of the Swan River Colony trilogy which I have read and observed many of these characters popping up in this book and it was lovely to see where they were up to.
I really enjoy Anna Jacobs’ books, historical fiction set in early Australia but also across England and Ireland too. I am seeing many similar storylines across her books as young women embark on a journey from the UK to immigrate to Australia- but I find every book I pick up by this Australian author very enjoyable.
In the Trader’s Sister we are introduced to Ismay Deagan, strong-willed Irish lass who longs to join her brother Bram (the focus of The Trader’s Wife). However, her father has other plans for her, to marry the horrid Rory Flynn who has had his eye on her since she was a kid. When her father makes the announcement of their marriage, Ismay flees to her employer and begs them to let her stay there. To her relief they agree and stand up to her father. This isn’t enough to stop her father from getting his way and he conspires with Flynn to ‘make’ Ismay marry him by forcefully impregnating her.
Ismay is traumatised by Flynn’s attack on her and desperate to flee the country as she no longer feels safe knowing he is nearby. Her employer arranges for her to get on the next ship to Australia, disguising herself as a widow in case she is in fact pregnant.
Ismay is an intelligent, determined young woman who wants to use her brains and not be used by a man for reproduction. Going to Australia to join her brother is her ticket to freedom and despite her hesitation of travelling the big voyage alone; she embraces the opportunity to live the life she always dreamed. During the voyage, her companionship is sought by Harriet, a woman who has fallen ill on the ship and requires caretaking. Her foster son, Adam Tregear is journeying to Australia to finalise the inheritance left by his father. He had never been a true father to him and Adam fears what has really been left for him Australia. One stipulation of the will was for him to leave his home country to go to Australia and to marry within a year. When he sets his eyes on Ismay, he becomes taken to her, admiring her intelligence and zest for life.
Ismay and Adam both have internal conflicts to overcome as well as the fact that they are of different social classes and will be looked down upon by society if they were to marry. But as they soon discover, class and social standing in Australia isn’t as highly valued as in the UK and perhaps they have a chance after-all.
I really enjoyed these two likeable characters and observing their growing connection. Jacobs throws in plenty of action and suspense as the despicable Flynn finds a spot on the ship and does not give up on trying to secure Ismay as his wife. I empathised with her and her desperate need to be free of the man who attacked her.
Despite some of the serious issues raised in this novel such as rape and the mistreatment of women of those times, Anna Jacobs lines the story with plenty of hope, engaging characters and romantic suspense that held me captive until the last page. I look forward to reading more in this series.
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About the author: Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. Her novel Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006.
More titles in the Trader’s series:
This book was read as part of the AWW2012 challenge