Title: The Last Truehart
Publisher: 2nd December 2020 by Harlequin Australia, HQ (Fiction, Non Fiction, YA) & MIRA
Pages: 402 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, romance, Australia
My Rating: 4 cups
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 a bestselling Australian author.
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 proven yet again that she is a master at writing Australian historical fiction. The Last Trueheart is another wonderful tale to immerse yourself in with a strong female lead in male dominated colonial Australia. I love the fact that in each of her novels, Darry takes her female lead and explores with them at a time when women were on the cusp of acquiring some form of independence. Into this Darry can always be relied upon to weave intriguing, maybe even forgotten historical facts, that all up result in a worthy tale.
‘Leo Smith was her father. Mrs Parks had sent Bendigo Barrett to find her, and now Stella would learn why.’
It is not only the female leads that are inspiring. On this occasion both Stella and Bendigo (yes ... named after the city) are strong and believable 19th century characters. There is not just a romance but a partnership between the two to explore and consolidate a place in society. The secondary characters likewise offer insight into a lifestyle long gone, particularly Bendigo’s sisters. Darry, as always, undertakes research to produce both a time and place that gives her readers a real sense of what life would have been like at that time.
The Last Truehart is an enjoyable and well written tale - a great yarn, a dashing hero and a real sense of place in the evolution of Australian society of the time.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.