Beyond Innocence by Joanna Lloyd
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Electra Shipley lies in a mite-infested bunk, weak from lack of food and seasickness. Imprisoned and sentenced to seven years’ transportation, she sails towards the penal colony of New South Wales, Australia. Despite the odds, she is determined to survive, to clear her name, and return to her life of wealth and ease in England.
William Radcliffe has fled the betrayals of his father and fiancée to make a new life in the colony. When a transport ship from England docks, William stumbles across much more than mere trade cargo. Haunted by the beautiful convict with wild hair and golden eyes, William decides a compliant and grateful convict wife might meet his needs without the complications of love. Electra must now decide whether a loveless marriage with a "colonial barbarian" is preferable to imprisonment.
William is unprepared for the deeply suppressed passion his new wife arouses within him. Against his conviction never to love, he begins to desire Electra and the sexual tension between them sparks into a fierce physical attraction he longs to satisfy.
But Electra has made enemies on the ship and a vicious act of revenge endangers her life and the lives of the people she has come to love. Can Electra and William’s love survive the perils of this land and its inhabitants, or will their pasts destroy their future?
Crimson Romance November 12th 2012
Time and Setting: England & Australia 1819
Genre: Historical Romance/saga
Heat Level: 3
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars
Although this novel begins in the English Regency period, it is not a Regency romance, it’s more a saga. Author, Joanna Lloyd’s story moves from a London townhouse to a farm in the early Colonial days of Australia. It is in Australia where most of the story unfolds.
Danger and troubles are heaped on heroine, Miss Electra Shipley, but she is no shrinking violet. While brought up as the daughter of a nobleman, she has not been cosseted. She is a practical, intelligent woman, brave and stoical, and has much to contend with after spending four months in Newgate Prison, the result of her uncle’s betrayal. He had embezzled her fortune after her father dies, and she is subsequently abandoned by her fiancé. Sentenced to seven years transportation, Electra is sent to Sydney Town, Australia, on a rat infested convict ship living in appalling conditions with the constant threat of rape. Once there, she must face further hardship working in a factory, until she is chosen for a marriage of convenience. The marriage does not begin well. She has little trust in any man and keeps her secrets close.
Headstrong and proud, Electra exhibits courage in facing the dangers of a raw new land, and opens her heart to the experiences and the people she finds there. She proves to be a great pioneer woman, embracing the Aboriginal people while holding her head up bravely against censure from the snobbish British colonists, as she fights to clear her name. She cannot shrug off her bitter past, however, and does not immediately embrace her husband.
William Radcliffe is a handsome hardworking breeder of merino sheep with dreams of bigger ventures; a wounded hero he also suffers a deep hurt from his past in England. With doubts, secrets and fears on both sides, their relationship proves a rocky one and they have much to face before it turns to love. But when they finally come together, sparks fly!
Lloyd is a fine writer and there are many memorable moments in this book.
“Electra felt like she was swimming through mud. Something terrible had happened but she couldn’t quite remember what it was. She knew William was trying desperately to reach out to her and she tried, how hard she tried, to let him know none of it was his fault. But each time she got close to breaking through, she was sucked back into a dark void, empty of emotion.”
I commend Joanna Lloyd’s thorough research, she employs it well to paint a vivid pictures of those times. As an Australian, I enjoyed reading about those early years of my country and the journey of Electra and William. I look forward to reading the next novel Joanna Lloyd writes, it’s sure to be refreshingly different.