Off the Edge: (Historical Romance)

Shirley Heaton
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Genres: Romance, Historical Fiction. Format: Multiple. Views: This Week 214, Total 488.

The author has indicated that this book is not suitable for children and young adults.

The judge, now intent on making his verdict official, slowly lifted his head and his rheumy eyes glistened in the fading light of the courtroom focusing on Emily and penetrating her soul. He coughed and cleared his throat.
‘You will be transported to parts beyond the seas, to such a place as His Majesty King George the Third shall think fit to direct you, for the natural term of your life.’ The words rumbled from his thunderous tongue and reverberated like a timpani inside Emily’s head but, unable to assimilate his words fully, she cowered in the dock, cornered like the hunter’s prey. Her eyes became distended in horror and her breath caught in her throat.
‘No, No,’ she screamed. ‘I did not do it, sir.’ But her plea fell on deaf ears. She closed her eyes and sent up a silent prayer. 'Dear God, please help me!’

The saga, filled with intrigue and adventure, tells of the plight of Emily Spence, a fifteen-year-old kitchen maid abused by the son of the lord of the manor, Richard Allenby, and falsely accused of stealing a gold bracelet belonging to his mother. The story unravels to disclose her trials and ordeals when, as a ‘convict’, she is transported in 1787 to the new colony, Australia, to become one of the first settlers striving to establish a new life there. It tells of her struggle to survive amongst thieves and prostitutes, of her bravery and resilience in the face of male brutality, and of her strength and her caring nature towards her closest friends. It embraces a gradually developing love story between Emily and Royal Marine, Jimmy, although Emily, labelled a convicted felon and aware of her inferior status, faces a dilemma in accepting Jimmy’s love.

OFF THE EDGE gives a thought-provoking glimpse at the lives of the poor during the eighteenth century and highlights the fact that many of them, out of desperation, slipped ‘off the edge’ of poverty into crime. It reveals the fear of eighteenth century mariners in the belief that a ship reaching the Southern Ocean would reach the bottom of the world and topple ‘off the edge’ into oblivion.
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