07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


My latest release from Books We Love, is Falsely Accused. Several years ago it was published with a title of Savage Utopia, but it has now been revised and has a lovely new cover from the talented Michelle Lee.
This book is set in the 1820's, against a background of the transportation of convicted felons from England to the penal colony of Australia.
It is available on Amazon

On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.

On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?

Maryanne woke up with a throbbing headache. Her vision was blurred and her throat felt so dry and scratchy, no sound would come out. Vaguely she remembered liquid being forced past her lips, noise, the movement of a carriage and the words “seven years”.
Where did that vile smell come from? She tried to focus her eyes but couldn’t. Her bed felt cold and hard. Suddenly memories came flooding back, Fiona’s death and Sarah attacking her with a knife. Her body twitched with the shock of remembrance. She had been found guilty of assaulting her stepmother, and was sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of Australia. To be incarcerated there for seven years.
Maryanne still felt hazy about the happenings of the last few weeks, except the final verdict. Seven years incarceration might as well be life, because few people ever returned from exile. The authorities called her a vicious mad woman, and would not listen to her version of what Silas and Sarah had done to Fiona.
“You awake now?”
“What?” She blinked several times in quick succession trying to clear the haze from her eyes. “Where am I?” The question sounded like hers, but the low guttural voice didn’t.
“Newgate prison. I’m Libby.”
A young woman’s face came into focus, a woman with flaming red hair that even the dirt and dinginess around them could not hide.
“They brought you here from the insane asylum, said you tried to murder your stepmother.”
“She deserved to die, both of them did. It was an accident; we were fighting over the knife and…”
“You won’t last long on the convict hulks, my pretty.” A toothless old crone leered at her.
“Shut your mouth, you dirty old hag.” Libby shoved the woman away, and the old thing cackled loudly.
“What does she mean?”
Shivering uncontrollably, Maryanne glanced around. She lay slumped against a slimy wall, and her clothes looked as filthy as those of twenty or so other women in this dungeon cell. Her hair, like scattered rats tails, straggled about her shoulders, and she gave a shudder of revulsion because she must smell as dreadful as everyone else.
“What’s your name?” Libby asked, with a slight Irish brogue.
“Maryanne Watson. I want to get out of here, I’m innocent.”
“Stay where you are,” Libby hissed fiercely. “Don’t attract attention to yourself. Everyone in Newgate says they’re innocent.”
“But I am, I am,” she babbled, trying to get control of herself. Why wouldn’t anyone believe her? The slap on her cheek, little more than a tap, instantly stopped her anguished flow of words.
“Do you want to stay alive, Maryanne Watson?”
“Yes, doesn’t everyone?”
“Well, say nothing to attract attention to yourself. Some of these women would kill you, just like that.” Libby snapped her fingers next to Maryanne’s ear. “The turnkeys won’t save you either, here or on the hulks. They only have one use for women.”
Bile surging into Maryanne’s mouth tasted foul and bitter. Her flesh crawled with terror and she clenched her teeth to stop herself from becoming hysterical.








1 comment:

Judith Ashley said...

Love it, Margaret! Well, actually shivered by the end of the excerpt. What a nightmare!!! For myself, if I'd been in Maryanne's situation and had a choice, I'd pick Australia over the convict hulks.