Love – is it worth its weight in gold?
It’s 1866 and the gold rush is on. Left to fend for herself in the wilds of New Zealand’s west coast, Lady Guinevere Stanhope is determined to do whatever it takes to rescue her ancestral home and restore her father’s good name.
Forced out of his native Ireland, Quinn O’Donnell dreams of striking gold. His fiercely held prejudices make him loath to help any English person, let alone a lady as haughty and obstinate as Guinevere. But when a flash flood hits, Quinn is compelled to rescue her, and their paths become entwined in this uncharted new world.
Though a most inconvenient attraction forms between them, both remain determined to pursue their dreams, whatever the cost.
Will they realise in time that all that glitters is not gold?
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Today, we’re welcoming author Zana Bell to Romantic Historical Reviews. She’s stopped by to share a story about her own brush with the British class system, and to tell us a little about her latest book, Fool’s Gold.
Once upon a time I sat upon a royal throne – of the different sort.
I was on my O.E. – overseas experience where Kiwis (and Aussies) invade Europe for a few years to soak up ‘culture’ etc., and I’d landed a dream job of decorating the country home of the then director of The Royal Opera House. His wife, Lady P, opened the world of the aristocracy to me; patiently explaining the differences between earls and dukes, why one said ‘scent’ not ‘perfume’ and why it was unthinkable to wear black velvet before November. But best of all, they took me to view a performance from the Royal Box which they could use over Christmas. Only months earlier, all I’d been able to afford was standing room at the back of the theatre!
A private staircase took us up to the anteroom where an immaculate young man received our coats. He took my battered duffle jacket with the same impassivity with which he had received the fur and cashmere coats but as he offered me champagne, he winked conspiratorially. I very graciously inclined my head.
As we went out into the Royal Box a shiver of excitement went around the theatre, followed immediately by an almost audible sigh of disappointment that we were ‘nobody’. However, I still sat as straight as I could and, following the lead of my hosts, murmured ‘Oh, bravo’ at appropriate moments with the most rounded vowels I could muster.
In the interval I nipped to the loo – and what a splendid loo it was; a panelled banquette with a fine porcelain pan. It made sense, especially considering the voluminous skirts of the past and very grand I felt too as I availed myself of the facility and thought about all the royal posteriors that must have graced this seat. However, when I went to flush, I was nonplussed. There was no lever. Hm. I looked down for a foot pedal. Nothing. Could they have disguised it cunningly behind the beautiful panelling? I tapped cautious knuckles all over the sateen wood. Nothing. I stood in an agony of indecision, loath go out and confess colonial failure but as I cast my eyes heavenward in humiliated anguish, I suddenly saw an old-fashioned cistern with a dangling chain. Though I laughed at the incongruity, I confess that royal flush was music to my ears.
During the 1860s NZ gold rush, people from every background flooded in from around the world. But rigid class systems and understood codes buckled in this beautiful but unforgiving land as fortunes were lost and made. I had fun reversing the fortunes of my protagonists. Penniless Irishman, Quinn, strikes gold while Lady Guinevere, through a series of disasters, is forced to become a maid. Ultimately, fate brings them together in the same house.
TO WIN A COPY OF FOOL’S GOLD, ANSWER THE QUESTION IN COMMENTS AND THEN ENTER AT RAFFLECOPTER:
Have you ever been caught out in a tricky situation where you haven’t known the rules in play?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zana Bell lives in New Zealand. She describes herself as a big fan of Georgette Heyer and combines the elements of light-hearted romance with travel and adventure. Zana’s first book was a young adult time travel, published in New Zealand and Australia. Her second novel was an historical, based on the life and times of Charlotte Badger, convict, pirate and New Zealand’s first English woman immigrant. It was voted Single Titles 10 Best Books in 2008. She is also the author of two contemporary romances from Harlequin’s Super romance line. The first won a Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice award 2010. Close to the Wind was her debut novel with Choc Lit and the return to her love of writing historical novels.