A woman alone and a charismatic private detective are caught up in a dangerous quest to discover her true identity in this thrilling historical adventure romance set in 19th century Victoria, from bestselling Australian author, Darry Fraser.
1898, Geelong, Victoria. Stella Truehart is all alone in the world. Her good-for-nothing husband has died violently at the hands of an unknown assailant. Her mother is dead, her father deserted them before she was born, and now her kindly Truehart grandparents are also in their graves.
Private detective Bendigo Barrett has been tasked with finding Stella. He believes his client’s intentions are good, but it is evident that someone with darker motives is also seeking her. For her own part Stella is fiercely independent, but as danger mounts, she agrees to work with Bendigo and before long they travel together to Sydney to meet his mysterious client where they discover more questions than answers.
What role do a stolen precious jewel and a long-ago US Civil War ship play in Stella’s story? Will sudden bloodshed prevent the resolution of the mystery and stand in the way of her feelings for Bendigo? It is time, at last, for the truth to be revealed…
Darry Fraser has steadily built a reputation for herself as one of Australia’s leading historical novelists. She’s carved out a niche for herself in the adventure romance subgenre, with strong female protagonists, complex love interests, and sizzling chemistry. Her last two novels, The Good Woman of Renmark and Elsa Goody Bushranger were fan favourites at Better Reading, with their winning combination of compelling characters, fascinating historical detail and rollicking plots. Now, with The Last Truehart, Darry has really hit her stride – perhaps that ease comes with knowing a lot of readers are out there waiting for your next book. Whatever it is, Darry delivers what she’s known for, and so much more. The Last Truehart is her best novel yet, and outstanding storytelling.
The novel opens in 1865 at the Williamstown dock in Melbourne where over 7,000 people have gathered to look at visiting American Civil War ship, the CSS Shenandoah. While docked, forty-two men are stowed away, later joining the crew and the confederate fight. So fascinating was this opening, that I spent time googling this actual historical event, in-between reading chapters. Darry was obviously inspired by this little-known event in Australian history, and opened her story with a key character stowed away onboard the CSS Shenandoa.
I was hooked from the start – completely caught up in this polished, perfectly plotted page-turner. An immensely enjoyable read.