Read with: Paperback
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Patrick O’Reilly
Heroine: Amanda Davenport
Date of Publication: October 5, 1999
Started On: September 24, 2010
Finished On: September 25, 2010
Like the book Whispers of Heaven which I reviewed earlier, this story too is set in Australia during the 1800’s.
Amanda Davenport finds herself in the raw primitive land of Australia, left with a feeling of hopelessness when her employer dies from a bout of illness leaving her destitute with nowhere to turn to. Amanda, the daughter of a brilliant scholar back in England had been hired by Frances Blake who had been a botanist to act as his secretary, a post that few women were thought capable of handling back then. However, growing up alone with a brilliant scholar because her mother had died when she had been a mere baby, Amanda had ended up more educated than even most men, because that had been Amanda’s way of vying for the attention of a father who was more mindful of his students and the academics than his only daughter. When her father had died 5 years earlier leaving her with little means to look after herself, Amanda had been forced to seek employment and hence her current predicament where Amanda is forced to find a job in order to survive and earn enough money to return back to her beloved England.
Experiencing the fact that the post of a secretary would be hard to attain, Amanda ends up agreeing to be the governess of Patrick O’Reilly’s 3 children. The one fact that deters her is the fact that the O’Reilly’s live so far in the outback that the land was considered primitive and harsh, and for someone like Amanda who misses the gentle surroundings of England, the mere thought of roughing it out in the outback is a daunting thought in itself. But in the end, her hopeless situation has her agreeing to be the governess of Hannah, Liam and Missy aged between 11 and 6 years old for a period of 1 year after which she would have the means to return back to her home.
When Patrick O’Reilly sets eyes on the tightly buttoned up English woman his sister Hetty had once again hired as a governess for his children, all Patrick senses is a woman who forces down her emotions to the extent that she appears to have a perpetual straight line where her lips should be. But even her buttoned up figure dressed in the ugliest garbs Patrick had ever seen does little to hide her dainty figure and her impressive gray eyes which seems to stare down haughtily at him, a sign classic of the English women.
Patrick, the grandson of an Irish ex-convict had learnt the hard way that dainty women such as Miss Amanda rarely survived in the primitive land to which his heart belonged, and that they would leave sooner or later. Patrick’s mother who had been English had abandoned their family and then he had gone ahead and married Katherine, an English woman whose father had made his fortune in India and had come to invest it in Australia. A 19 year old Patrick had been helplessly ensnared with an 18 year old determined Katherine and in the end her pregnancy had ended up in their marriage. Patrick who dreams of nothing more than owning his own land and having his own flock of sheep and cattle one day couldn’t have been more different from Katherine who had wanted to return to England with her husband in tow and live her life there.
Patrick had tried so hard to please Katherine and ease her longing to be back home. But in the end, Katherine too had walked out when Missy had just been 6 months old. So it was safe to say that Patrick wants nothing to do with Amanda who sets his senses afire and when he sees an answering fire of need reflected in her eyes, it is not long before these two are forced to acknowledge the intense connection between them, reluctant though each may be to do so due to their own reasons.
Amanda had been burned once and is twice shy of letting her baser emotions take over. What Patrick manages to do to her senses with his wickedly dimpled smile that brings a twinkle to his sky-blue eyes complete with his work hardened sinewy body is incomparable to anything she had ever experienced before. Amanda doesn’t welcome the emotions that are invading her body in Patrick’s presence, feelings she has ruthlessly tamped down on for the past 10 years of her life. Propriety and genteel behavior are the two things she steadfastly holds onto, because she is afraid that she would end up surrendering her heart, body and soul to the devilishly handsome man and the primitive land which he calls home.
What I like most about Ms. Proctor’s novels is the fact that she doesn’t provide magical solutions to each problem that comes up within the story. Amanda doesn’t just one day wake up and realize that she loves her harsh surroundings, nor does Patrick’s 3 children take to her like a newborn babe does to milk. Rather Amanda has to work her way and win their affections, and she comes to love them as her own in time. Patrick, a man who is wary of trusting a woman to do right by him doesn’t blindly trust Amanda to stay with him when he knows just how much she yearns to be back in England. In the end, a love as fierce and binding as the rough Australian outback is what helps them through the dangers and hurdles they have to cross to embrace their happily ever after.