Title: His Convict Wife
Author: Lena Dowling
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 (4.5) Stars
For Irish convict Colleen Malone, being framed, transported to Australia and forced into prostitution seemed like the worst that life could throw at her. Then she fell pregnant to a client and was sent back to prison by her cruel owner. Now, her only hope of a decent life for her and her baby is to find someone to marry.
Widower and former London businessman Samuel Biggs arrived in Australia hoping to put his grief behind him. When James Hunter offers him a job on his Parramatta farm, he accepts eagerly. He’ll put his back into his new work, and bury any thoughts of new love and marriage in the rich earth of his new home.
However, all plans are compromised when Samuel is manipulated into visiting a workhouse to choose a new housekeeper, and Colleen seizes her chance — literally grabbing Samuel and begging for her life. The only way Samuel can oblige is by marrying her, but on one thing he stands firm — there is no way he will fall in love…
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I have to admit, I was more than thrilled to have the opportunity to review another of Ms. Dowling’s novel’s. I was even more thrilled to see that yet again, it was another historical romance. Though the author has a definite talent for writing, I have found in my experience that her historical novels really stand out as exceptional writing. Again, I wasn’t disappointed.
This novel came to me on the tail of a series of lack-luster fiction I’d read recently, so opening the first page I was already mentally worn out and though I’ve enjoyed Ms. Dowling’s previous novels, I was hesitant to dive into what could potentially be another mediocre story. Instead, after just the first line of the novel, I was grinning from ear to ear.
“May the little people come in the dead of night, wrench your evil eyes out from their sockets, and fry them on the griddle for breakfast for what you’ve done.”
Colleen Malone may yet be one of the best heroin’s Ms. Dowling’s written to date. She’s a spitfire of a character who’s stubborn, straight-forward, and hilarious. Colleen is a character that despite playing the role of a woman of ill-repute, manages to convincingly keep hold on her innocence in a way I wasn’t sure was possible until I encountered her. The author’s given her a moral boundary that served to separate the role she’d been given in life with her personality, and I think it’s a testament to Ms. Dowling’s writing skills that she managed to draw that line and convince a reader like me that it’s possible for someone so lost in the dregs of society to hold on to their innocence and morals. Despite the position Colleen found herself in, I believed she was at heart a good character.
Was the story formulaic? Yes. As with most of these types of romances, I wasn’t truly surprised at any point in time with where the story was going – but I don’t consider that a failing mark. With these types of books I think being a bit formulaic and predictable is part of what makes these romances a good read. It’s comfortable knowing that in the end everything is going to turn out all right… like reading a fairytale that always ends with “and they lived happily ever after”. It certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
The story was full of tension between not only the main couple, but also the minor, side, and other lead characters, and that helped to drive the story onward. I didn’t feel rushed, bored, or confused, and I never had a moment where I sat back and went “really? That’s what’s happening right now?” The characters were very convincingly written, and from a technical standpoint, the writing was clean, fast-paced, and well-written.
Was it a book to break the boundaries of the genre? No—but it was certainly a good book, and one I’m happy to be setting on my “Keeper” shelf. I think anyone who enjoys a good historical romance will enjoy this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s new to Ms. Dowling’s work.