4 September 2019

Challenging Mountains (Settlers Book 3)

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5 stars “A Journey through History” Reviewed by Rosemary Morris

Some of the characters in Mystic Mountains and Distant Mountains feature or are mentioned in Challenging Mountains the third novel in the Settlers series set in 1840 in the colony of New South Wales. The colony is expanding now that convicts are no longer transported to the East Coast, and free squatters settle on lands between Sydney and Port Philip in the south.

Tim is bored by his position in a government office. Jo, whose parents were killed at the gold mines by bush rangers, is equally bored with her life. When Tim is about to leave for Port Philip with his Uncle Carlos, Jo, dressed as a boy, accompanied by Billy, a native, who wants to find his family, arrives. She is determined to join them and insists she can cope with the month-long-journey, says she has enough money for her needs and that Billy, who promised her father to look after her, will be an asset. In search of adventure and a new life in Port Philip, a new settlement, they set out. Jo thinks she can take care of herself. She ignores Tim’s advice about avoiding predatory males. “Despite Jo’s, at times, stubborn ways, she is a beautiful, talented woman.” Tim cannot decide if he wants to marry her. “There were times when he thought Jo was wise beyond her years. In comparison he was like a green youth. Then again she would offer him challenges he would relish.”

The author introduced me to the history of New South Wales, which I knew little about. She also took me on an interesting journey from place to place, during which the characters encountered ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’. After na├»ve Jo, dressed as a young man, is assaulted, they are deserted by their wagon master and his team. From then on, they encounter almost naked natives, are attacked by bushrangers, make dangerous river crossings and are horrified by a murder. Halfway to Port Philip, they no longer think of their expedition across challenging mountains as an adventure.
When I reached the end of Challenging Mountains, I was completely satisfied and, with regret, parted with Tim and Jo.

4 stars   “An Era's Ending”   Janet Walters
20 August 2019 - Published on Amazon.com

“I enjoyed reading the final book in this trilogy about the mountains of Australia. Both the hero and heroine bring different challenges to the story. Along with their adventure, the hero's uncle has his own challenges. Reading about the frontier days in Australia showed me many things I didn't learn in school about this wide and varied land. The heroine and hero both have strength and courage.”

4 stars Long and Short Reviews.

This book was an easy read and was also an interesting look at the history of New South Wales. I loved the characters – it reminded me a bit of watching an old TV show. I could see the action taking place in my mind’s eye.

I absolutely loved Jo (well, there were times near the end of the book I wanted to shake her…but I don’t want to give away any plot points, but I was disappointed in her then). She knew what she wanted, and she wasn’t shy about going after it. She had spunk.

I did get aggravated the way Tim kep calling her a wench. It seemed rude, but for the time and area it might not have been. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it.. after all, they had been friends for years, but I grated on my nerves just a big. But, that’s just me and probably wouldn’t bother anyone else.

I enjoyed this book so much, I want to now go back and read the two earlier books in the series. Good job, Ms. McGill!

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10 August 2019

Short excerpt from Challenging Mountains Settlers Book 3

Available from many online retailers
He’d had many conversations in the past with Jo, but now Tim was seeing another side to her. Her beliefs so mirrored his own he was startled. “I think your mother was a wise woman, was she not?” he asked.

A small smile of reminiscence crossed her face as she nodded. “My father also was a knowledgeable man.” She sighed deeply. “If they had not been transported for stupid petty thievery the pair would have ended up in a much different situation.”

“So, how is it they became miners if they were intelligent well-educated folk?”

“That is the sorriest part of their tale. Father became obsessed by the stupid idea of gaining wealth the easy way.” The small sound of disgust she made displayed her opinion of this foolhardy venture. “As my mother told me, he met a man while working out at the sheep-yards, and this person convinced my father that all he had to do was go off into the mountains and gold was waiting there for any man with the strength and will to search for it.” She shrugged. “So as soon as both gained their tickets of leave, off he dragged her. I think she adored him, and that is why she endured such a hard life. I will never make the mistake of loving a man with such brainless ideas.”

Tim let out a harrumph. “Foolish girl. I have been told that love is blind, and when it strikes there is little you can do but go along with it. She gave birth to you and obviously loved you even though she let you run wild and behave more like a young larrikin than a respectable woman of breeding.”

“Hah! No thank you—I would never wish to be a primping simpering female of breeding. Have you observed how the so-called high-class ladies behave in town? And their Mamas!” She made a rude sound in her throat. “When I decide to marry, supposing I ever do, it will be with the man of my choice and not some moneybags chosen by a parent—or in my case, an uncle who cares little for me and more for amassing wealth. Why, he was already suggesting likely husbands for me as soon as I passed my seventeenth birthday. All of them many years my senior.” Another rude sound emphasised her opinion of that.

“Well, you are a free woman now it appears—and soon will be far away from him and any decisions he could have made for your future,” Tim said. What a sad life she had endured to date, even though her parents obviously loved her in some strange way. “It must have been horrific for you when they were killed.” Tim knew she did not like talking about that fateful day but she seemed in a talkative mood right now, so he ventured the question.

For a while, she stared into the distance without speaking. “I still wake at night with nightmares,” she said. 
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12 July 2019

Book three in my Settlers series now available

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Challenging Mountains (Settlers Book 3)

By 1840 the colony of New South Wales was expanding. Transportation of convicts to the east coast ended, and many free squatters set out to settle on lands to the south. In 1836, the Government in London authorised Governor Bourke to establish a settlement in The Port Philip District of New South Wales, and an Association was formed to make the district a separate colony.
Timothy, Tiger and Bella Carstairs eldest son has turned 21. Bored with his Government job and intent on seeking adventure and a new life away from Sydney, Tim decides to journey south in an endeavour to find this adventure, accompanied by his Uncle Carlos. Where else to find it, but in a newly formed settlement. 
In the 1840s the road south might not be as hazardous as the one across the mountains travelled by his parents when he was a child, but the month long journey overland holds many dangers and challenges to be faced. Escaped and ex-convicts seek the easy life by forming gangs to take what they can where they can. Forced to fight off the intruders who take claim to the land they have cared for over many, many generations, the Indigenous people are faced with many trials and battles of their own.
Not the least of Tim’s personal challenges is a young headstrong woman who, uninvited, takes it upon herself to join him on his travels.  When they reach their destination, their troubles have only just begun.

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Distant Mountains (Settlers Book 2)

Even in the prospering colony of New South Wales, it would be far-fetched to think a convicted man could consider marrying the daughter of a wealthy property owner.
But Remy has larger problems to contend with than Sara’s bigoted father. Forced to leave the woman he loves behind, Remy faces overwhelming odds and an ordeal that threatens to strip him of everything; his pride, his strength, his health—even his life.

Sara has many struggles of her own and when Remy finally thinks he has a future with Sara within his grasp, he is sent to a place where pain and suffering are everyday occurrences. Will the lovers ever find true happiness?

"This story had me riveted from page one. The historical facts ring true and add veracity to Remy’s tale. The characters all come alive and the descriptions of places and events and people pulled me into the story and immersed me in their world. Remy is a stunning hero- handsome, kind, intelligent, and witty. I found myself holding my breath to see if he would find his true love, Sara. Once started, I couldn’t put this book down. It’s by far one of the most enthralling romances I’ve read in years." Jennifer Macaire A Romance Review five roses*****

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Mystic Mountains (Settlers Book 1)

In the early 1800s the penal colony of Botany Bay was an unforgiving and harsh place. Isabella O'Shea is transported to New South Wales for wounding a member of the British aristocracy who raped her, so it is understandable that she loathes members of the upper class and the system that punished her; sentenced her to seven years transportation.
Tiger Carstairs is rich, ambitious and English-so is it any wonder she is determined to hate 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.
Mystic Mountains 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.
Isabella and Tiger face tragedy and many hardships in their quest for a new life in this untamed land.
“I really loved this book (previously published as Blue Haze but re-published as Mystic Mountains). It was like Pride and Prejudice...ooops, I mean Arrogance and Obstinacy, meets the Thorn Birds in 1818 Australia. I love realistically flawed characters--perfect romance H/h's are such bores--and both of these were so realistically flawed, the way their life experiences from their past hard-scrabble youth carried over to lead to inappropriate and sometimes foolish judgments in their present was so well developed into the plot of this book. Now I shouldn't love it as much as I did. There were a few things in this book that I really hated, but I can't say without spoilers, that should have made me downgrade my rating--however, any book that keeps me up to 3:30 AM to finish, because I just can't put it down, definitely rates five-stars. This is also the kind of book that will make the next few books I read seem like they don't measure up.” Janet Orosz-Kindle  five stars

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