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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 naïve 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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