Jewel in the North by Tricia Stringer

Prologue

July 1894

There was little comfort in the front room of the Hawker Hotel save the pitiful fire and the frothy ale. A winter storm raged out­side. Inside the men huddled together as much for the warmth as due to the cramped conditions. Smoke from the fire mingled with the more cloying fumes of pipe tobacco, but the overpow­ering smell was of sheep. The men were mostly shepherds with their recent pay packet in their pockets, from which most of them would soon be parted. They were jammed in like sheep in a pen.

For Clem the excitement of coming to town had dimmed. From his vantage point in the corner of the room he knew every­one except for two strangers. He’d noticed them as soon as they’d walked in; they were well dressed, more like city men. He could see they were buying drinks for the shepherds they spoke to. Clem had an uneasy feeling about them, especially the taller man who kept glancing around as if he were looking for someone. Right at that moment the man swivelled his head in Clem’s direction. Clem looked away and pressed against the wall.

His friend, Albie, pushed a mug of ale towards him. “Here, drink this. Put a smile on your face.” He giggled. It was a silly sound coming from the wiry man who was older than Clem by ten years and had the stamina of several bigger fellows combined.

“Thanks, Albie.” He stared into the froth. Clem had never been much of a drinker.

Albie gave him a nudge. “Drink up.” Once more he gave the silly giggle. He’d already had a few more mugs of ale than Clem.

Clem nodded his thanks and took a big mouthful of the brown liquid.

“How much of this stuff you reckon we can drink with this money?” Albie patted his pocket, his face contorted in a huge grin.

Clem couldn’t help but smile back. “More than you can hold in your belly.”

He had already bought himself a warm jacket and some new boots before he came to the hotel but he was fairly sure Albie would spend his whole month’s pay there. “Remember you have to be back for work in two days. Old man Prosser will beat you if you’re late.”

Albie grinned so hard his face was almost split in two by his big wide mouth. “He’s gotta catch me first.”

Clem shook his head as his friend turned away and went back to a small group huddled by the fire. Albie had been employed by Prosser because of his speed and agility around sheep. His father had been a shepherd and Albie knew the hill country well. He was a sensible fellow when his belly wasn’t full of ale.

The rain pounded heavily on the roof, causing a momentary pause in the conversation as everyone looked up. Then the talking resumed, but louder.

More rain was welcome. The years since Clem had arrived in the district had been a time of plentiful rain but there were those who told tales of the terrible drought from several years before.

Clem couldn’t imagine it when all he could see was long grass for the sheep and cattle. Trouble was the rabbits were in bountiful supply too and following them came the dingoes that not even the fences kept out. The only way to keep sheep safe was to have men watching them all the time.

Clem glanced around at the faces in the room. Many of them wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for the dingoes. It was certainly the only reason Albie had money in his pocket. Ellis Prosser was fussy about the men he employed. They were cattlemen, a close group who didn’t mix much with others. With the good seasons and the grass being so thick Prosser had taken on some sheep and he’d also had to take on some extra shepherds.

A young Aboriginal woman slipped into the room carrying a tray with mugs of ale. He knew her name was Mary. He’d met her once or twice at the Bakers’ place where he’d worked for almost five years now. She was the daughter of one of their shepherds and was employed to look after the publican’s children but sometimes at night once they were in bed she worked in the bar too. Mary gave him a slight nod and moved among the men, handing out the ale, collecting the money and the empty mugs.

Clem noticed the two strangers were closer now. He raised his eyes to the wooden ceiling as thunder rumbled overhead. The pounding on the roof grew louder. The outer door beside him crashed open and a man scuttled inside, bringing the wind and rain with him. The old fellow had to put his shoulder to the solid wooden door to close it.

Clem leaned against the wall as once more the sound of voices fought with the noise of the storm. The smell of wet clothes, pipe tobacco and sheep fouled the air. He shouldn’t have come. He much preferred the hill country, even in the rain.

A prickle tingled down his spine. He looked around. The out­siders were moving his way. They came to a stop either side of him. He straightened against the wall. The men were both of average height but one had red hair and mottled skin, while the other was a complete contrast — brown-haired, with skin that had darkened with the sun. He was the one whose piercing gaze had swept the room.

“I am Mr Jones.” The dark-haired man held out his hand to Clem. “I am here with Mr Becker.”

The redheaded man put his hand forward.

“Clem.” Clem couldn’t help but stare at the fair hand that clamped his in a quick squeeze. The skin was so pale you could see the blue of his blood beneath. Had Jones said Baker? Maybe this man was somehow related to his employer, Joseph Baker.

“We were told you work in the hill country to the east.” Jones continued to do the talking.

Clem gave a slow nod and glanced beyond them, wondering who had pointed him out.

Jones pulled a rock from his pocket and stretched it out on the flat of his hand. “Mr Becker is interested in rocks like this one.”

Clem’s eyes widened and he leaned in for a closer look. It was like the rock his boss carried in a pouch as his good-luck charm. Clem had seen it once or twice and gathered it had been found somewhere on Baker’s land, but he didn’t know where.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve seen a rock like this.”

Becker leaned closer, his intense gaze locked on Clem. “Can you show me where? I would make it worth your while.”

Clem frowned. He had to concentrate to understand the man’s accent.

“Mr Becker is from South Africa. A country a long way from here.” Jones glanced around then lifted the rock closer to Clem. “He wants more of this. He would pay you a lot of money to show us where you’ve seen a rock like this.”

Clem swallowed. He’d spoken before he’d had time to think. He met Mary’s worried look as she peered between the two new­comers. She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head.

Clem remembered the promise he’d made to tell no-one about the rock Joseph Baker had shown him one night after a few drinks around the campfire. He looked at his feet. “Long time ago.”

“Near here?” Becker clutched the sleeve of Clem’s new jacket.

Clem shrugged again.

“Let us buy you a drink?” Jones smiled but Clem didn’t like the way his teeth glinted between his fat lips.

“I’ve gotta go.”

He slipped away; both men took a step to follow but he tugged the door open. A blast of cold wet air invaded the room. He stepped out and slammed the door shut on the two hungry faces. The night was miserably cold. He hunched his shoulders against the wind and rain and hurried away into the darkness, glad he’d escaped further questions and even more glad of his new coat.

Back inside, Albie waited until Mary had left the room then he sidled up to the redheaded man with the funny accent.

“I know where there’re more rocks like these.” The words tripped over his tongue in his excitement. He sniggered. He had never seen the rock his friends said Joseph Baker kept as his lucky charm but he’d heard it was a diamond. Albie wondered how many drinks he could buy with the money these men would pay him to show them the country out in the ranges at the back of Baker’s place. Perhaps he’d never go back to Prosser’s Run and the evil old man who wielded his whip so freely.

Chapter One

May 1895

The pride that had filled Henry Wiltshire’s chest was wiped away in an instant. The day darkened around him. “The gall of the man,” he hissed. “How dare he?”

“What’s wrong, Father?”

Henry had forgotten his son was standing beside him. They’d been surveying the line of horses, carts and wagons wending their way along the track from Hawker. Overhead the afternoon sun was blocked by a thick cloudbank and light rain had fallen earlier in the day — but Henry had thought nothing could dampen his spirits today.

“Joseph Baker has come, and brought his native wife. How dare he think he can mix with decent people?”

Henry glowered in the direction of the man who provoked anger in him by his very presence. When he had first opened his business in Hawker many years earlier, Henry had thought Baker one of the well-to-do pastoralists he would do business with and whose family would be suitable friends. Then Henry had dis­covered Baker was a native lover. So much so that his second wife was a black woman. She was sitting beside him now. Henry studied the others in the back of the cart. It appeared some of the offspring from his first marriage were with him but, thankfully, of the younger mixed-breeds there was no sign.

“Perhaps they’ll soon leave, Father. None of the decent folk here today will speak to them.”

Henry tugged at his jacket and smiled down at his son. “You’re right, Charles. And we will not allow outcasts like Joseph Baker and his family to mar our day.” He drew in a breath and the air was fresh. The earlier sprinkle of rain had seen to that, although the large movement of people and animals stirred up some dust in spite of the damp. “Come, Charles, we have guests to greet.”

Henry turned towards the front door of the Far North Cream­ery, soon to be declared open, built on a plateau several miles from town. The new building in front of him had been constructed from thick wooden beams, and had a cement floor and a gleaming tin roof — it was a testament to his foresight and business acumen.

Both members for their electoral district of Newcastle were attending today’s official opening, along with Hawker council­lors and as many people from the town and surrounding districts as wanted to come, which of course they all did. He swallowed his annoyance as he once again thought of Joseph Baker and his family. The Bakers had reclaimed the Smith’s Ridge property Henry had taken from them when their poor management had left them floundering. Not only that but Joseph blamed Henry for his first wife’s death. Today was a significant event for Hawker. Henry’s two partners in the venture were also there of course, but Henry was the lead figure, the businessman who had brought it all together. He did not want his fine image besmirched by the appearance of the Bakers.

There were those who had thought him foolhardy to invest such a large amount of money in a venture to make cream in this district. His friend Ellis Prosser had been one, but had rested his case of late. There were many farmers in the Hundred of Arkaba who had dairy cows as a sideline and soon there would be more with the Warcowie country beyond the creamery being subdi­vided for mixed farming. The region had been blessed with many years of good rainfall, silencing the worry-mongers and lifting the shoulders of the district with enthusiasm. Henry could see the future development of the creamery expanding to include butter.

“The ladies have the afternoon tea in hand, Henry.”

He smiled at his wife as she arrived at his side.

“Thank you for supervising, my dear.” He looked her up and down. Catherine fiddled with the exquisite lace at her collar. It was pale coffee in colour, a perfect complement to the rich choco­late of her dress. She no longer liked to come out to big social events but he was pleased to see she had done him proud today. His mother had sent up the silk dress, which was topped with a brocade jacket with matching lace at the cuffs. It was the latest fashion and no-one in Hawker would have seen anything like it. Of course after years of trying for another child Catherine’s body no longer boasted the lithe shape it had once but even with her broader waist he was proud: she was still a beautiful woman.

He looked over her shoulder. “Where did Charles go? We must be ready.”

“He slipped off as I approached.” Catherine gave Henry one of the indifferent looks she had taken to bestowing on him when it was just the two of them. “Don’t worry, Henry. He knows he must be here. I’m sure he won’t be long.”

Henry studied her face, which was shaded by a broad-brimmed hat decorated with bunches of ribbon and tulle to take the appear­ance of flowers. No doubt something his mother had arranged from the milliner next door to her dress shop in North Adelaide. He wondered at his wife’s private moments of coolness towards him, and yet she remained dutiful no matter what. He could rely on her to manage the shop, entertain his guests — anything that was required of the wife of a man as important as Henry Wilt­shire. And yet he had noticed a difference about her for some time now. Perhaps the loss of so many babies was taking its toll. He certainly rarely shared her bed any more. He wondered if she needed more of the tonic she was fond of.

Now Catherine’s lips were set in a small smile as she gazed out at the people gathering in front of the podium. “It’s certainly a magnificent turnout.” She glanced up at the sky. “I do hope the rain holds off.”

He was distracted from the grey sky by the arrival of a carriage drawn by no fewer than four sleek black horses. “The dignitaries are here.”

Charles stepped around his mother’s wide skirts.

“Good timing, Charles.”

“I have been keeping a watch, Father.”

Henry nodded his approval at his smartly dressed young son. Charles’s voice had deepened of late and he behaved in a digni­fied manner beyond his years. Not yet a man but well on his way. “Are we ready to show this town how lucky they are to have the Wiltshires as leading business people?”

“Yes, Father.” Charles’s face lit with pride.

Henry lifted his shoulders, offered his wife his arm and smiled. It was going to be a spectacular day in spite of the Bakers. Charles fell into step behind them and they moved forward together to greet the two men alighting from the carriage.

 

Joseph eased his horses into a gap near some low trees. Carts, horses and wagons were dispersed in all directions. People had come from everywhere for the grand opening of the Far North Creamery. They had followed the crowd out from Hawker after spending two nights there. As was often their practice with trips to Hawker for business and supplies, their second wagon was now fully loaded and waiting at the first creek on the way home. After the opening today they would collect it and begin the journey back to Wildu Creek.

The wagon had barely rolled to a stop when William jumped down and helped his two sisters to the ground. “Can we go ahead, Father?”

“Of course. Look out for your sisters.”

Violet, only a few years younger than William’s twenty, gave a small nod, but Esther, who was younger again, rolled her eyes.

Joseph raised his eyebrows in return. “Don’t give your brother any trouble, Esther.”

“We won’t, Father.” Violet smiled sweetly and drew her sister away before she could spout forth with her usual outrage at any inference that she needed minding. At sixteen Esther was no more or less a handful than she’d been at three or seven or any time in her life.

“You mustn’t tease her, Joseph.” Millie shook her head at him. “It only makes her dig in her heels.”

Joseph pulled himself up and frowned at the back view of his three grown-up children disappearing in the throng making its way towards the new creamery building. “It was no joke. I meant what I said. Esther has been known to make a spectacle of herself before. Only last month outside the church she pushed that boy over.”

“He was a young man, older than her and being obnoxious. I do believe she was defending me.”

“You don’t need defending, do you? Surely we’ve been married long enough to cease being a curiosity.”

Millie shook her head slowly at him. “You truly have blinkers.” Her big dark eyes, which were usually glowing with joy, were deep pools of melancholy. “We don’t come to town that often. A white man marrying a black woman will always cause a stir with some.”

“Well, they’re not people we spend time with.”

“But on days like this everyone is here. We can’t avoid those who don’t like us.”

After helping her down from the cart, Joseph turned her to face him. They had both known what they were doing when they married. At home on Wildu Creek they were so happy, and Millie was usually indifferent to the snubs of others. He took her hands. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m being silly. Today I don’t have the strength to face those who look down their noses at me.” Millie’s frown softened. “I think I am tired, that’s all.

“I am sorry, my love. You have as much right to be here as everyone else. I am sure the Garrats from the general store will be here and of course Mr Pyman from the saddlery. He has money invested in this venture I believe. They will be kind to you.”

“I know, Joseph.” Millie slid her hands from his grasp and fiddled with her belt, pulling it in a notch to accentuate her waist. After two children she was still as slender as the day he’d met her and even more beautiful. Her thick dark hair was coiled up onto her hatless head.

“You look beautiful, my dear.” He offered his arm and they strolled together nearer the general gathering of people, but Millie pulled him up.

“It’s not all about you and me, Joseph.” She indicated a group of young people nearby. “It’s hard on William and the girls.”

Joseph looked to where his son stood with Violet and Esther, talking to several friends from Hawker. He knew his children loved Millie but he understood what she meant.

“I’m worried about our young ones,” Millie said. “This new law that’s talked of that allows the Protector of Aborigines to remove children of mixed blood from their parents terrifies me.”

Joseph grabbed her hands and gave her arms a gentle shake. “It’s not law yet and anyway, no-one is going to take our children from us, Millie.” He bent to kiss her lips. “No-one.”

Her eyes locked with his and Joseph gave a firm nod of his head in return. It was the children of poor misfortunates unable to look after them who would be taken. Not well-cared-for and loved children like his own. Millie was feeling unease at being in such a big crowd, that was all. He looked around.

A murmur and shuffle from the crowd — a group was walking towards the front of the creamery building, led by Henry Wilt­shire. Speaking of the devil, Henry was one of those dogmatic people who judged by the colour of a person’s skin or the amount of money they had.

Millie fussed at the buttons of the white lace shirt she wore beneath a simple deep brown jacket.

“You look perfect, Millie.” He kissed her on the nose.

She giggled and he grinned back.

He took her arm again. “Let’s go and see this tomfoolery of a creamery for ourselves. I’d be happy to eat my words but I can’t see it being a success in this country.”

William and the girls stayed with their friends while Joseph and Millie made their way to the front door. Inside the building was congested but the crowd parted for them. Joseph heard some­one hiss. He gripped Millie’s hand tightly. He was relieved when Mabel Garrat saw them and beckoned them closer.

“Hello.” The older woman smiled, her big round face lit up with welcome. “I thought you’d gone home.”

“We decided to stay on for the festivities,” Joseph said. “We will leave as soon as the official proceedings are over.”

“What a turnout.” Tom Garrat shook Joseph’s hand and tipped his hat at Millie. “Looks like everyone from the district is here. No customers left in town so we closed the shop to come out for a gander.”

“Will you be stocking their cream?” Millie asked.

“Unlikely.” Mabel gave a snort. “Mr High and Mighty over there.” She gestured towards the machinery where Henry was pointing out features to a group gathered in close. “He will be stocking his own cream I am sure and he won’t be letting us have any. We’re his best competition.”

“Ladies and gentlemen.” The local publican used his booming voice to gain everyone’s attention. The crowd inside the cream­ery began to settle and quieten and more pushed in from outside. Those who couldn’t fit huddled close to fend off the chill of the afternoon.

“At least it’s warm with everyone in together.” Mabel tugged her jacket closer. “What a cold May day it is.”

“There must be at least two hundred or more here,” Joseph murmured.

“You have to be impressed.” Millie gave him a nudge. “Any­way it’s not just about Henry Wiltshire. He has Mr Button and Mr Pyman as partners in this enterprise, doesn’t he? They are sensible gentlemen.”

“I would have said so until they threw their lot in with Wiltshire.”

Once more their attention was drawn back to the machinery, which began to whir to life. There were murmurs of awe from the crowd as the first gallons of milk surged through the pipes and into the separator.

Henry felt fit to burst with pride. The cream production had impressed the large crowd enough that they gave three rousing cheers at the publican’s prompting. Mr Foster, one of their local members, gave a stirring speech, which was followed by another three cheers and then Mr Button spoke on behalf of the three proprietors. Henry revelled in the opportunity to be seen stand­ing beside the two parliamentarians.

He looked from one to the other. “Now that the official cer­emonies are over can we offer you a cup of tea, gentlemen?”

“That would be most welcome,” Burgoyne replied.

“I’d like to mingle if you don’t mind,” Foster said. “There are a couple of other locals I would like to speak with while I have the opportunity.”

Henry felt a little deflated; Foster set off through the crowd, his stride confident, as if he had already set eyes on someone. Henry turned back to Burgoyne and gave him a broad smile. “Shall we go this way?” He pointed towards the door closest to the refresh­ment tent that had been set up outside.

 

 “Mr Baker?”

Joseph turned. Mr Foster stood before him. A distinguished-looking man with a thick moustache that turned up at each end, he was a few years Joseph’s junior.

“I am Joseph Baker.”

Foster held out his hand. “I’ve been hearing good things about you, Mr Baker.”

Joseph was encouraged by the politician’s words, but he knew Millie wouldn’t enjoy the closer attention they were now receiv­ing from others around them. He put his arm around her and drew her close. “This is my wife, Millie, and three of my chil­dren, William, Violet and Esther.”

Foster shook everyone’s hand. “A fine family.”

“I have three more children at home.”

“No doubt they are a blessing to you, Mr Baker.” He smiled once more in Millie’s direction then turned back to Joseph. “I don’t want to monopolise your time but I’ve been hearing good reports about your sheep-breeding exploits.”

“Have you indeed?” Joseph was surprised but more than a little proud to be singled out by Foster, who was by report energetic and dedicated in his work.

“I would like to know more.”

“Perhaps the girls and I can take some tea while you discuss business.” Millie smiled but Joseph could see the uncertainty in her eyes. Nevertheless the three set off, and Joseph turned back to Foster as William stepped closer.

“What would you like to know, Mr Foster? William is proving a most reliable support and my father, Thomas Baker, is also part of our endeavour.”

“Your mutton is well recommended, Baker, along with your wool. I was hoping to interest you in the freezing machinery the government has built at Port Adelaide, along with the establish­ment of a produce depot and agency in London.”

“The demand for our meat is strong in South Australia.”

“I am sure but we are already exporting poultry, pork and even rabbits. I mentioned the interest in butter that comes from this region. The sweet herbage of the area improves the flavour, as it does the flavour of your meat.”

Joseph looked from Foster to William, who had moved closer, then back again. “Do tell us more, Mr Foster.”

 

Henry glared at Joseph Baker from his position near the cream­ery main door. Baker was in deep conversation with Mr Foster. Henry couldn’t imagine what they would have in common. He’d seen the way Foster had greeted Baker’s wife — no doubt as a member of parliament he had to be polite. The locals had no such scruples. Henry shifted his gaze to where Millie Baker and her stepdaughters were approaching the refreshment tent. Several people stepped back, parting a way for them.

“They should not be encouraged to spend time with decent white folk,” he muttered.

“I assume by ‘they’ you are referring to the Bakers.” Catherine looked at her husband with a steady gaze. “Why does it bother you so, Henry? Millie Baker appears to be a well-mannered woman, who dresses suitably and keeps a fine house from what I’ve heard.”

“She’s still a black woman and her children are mixed breed. I’ve noticed more and more of such people about town as well as full-blood natives.”

“Surely if they have money …” Catherine paused and gave him a superior smile. “They are entitled to spend it the same as anyone else.”

“Entitled.” Henry huffed. She knew very well the Bakers were some of the most well-off people in the district. His fingers curled into his palms. Most of the other natives weren’t so comfortable. “It only gives them excuses to linger.”

“Father’s right.” Charles joined the conversation. “Mr Garrat allows natives in his shop and they’re often standing about out the front as well.”

“Passing the time of day with their friends.” Catherine looked from her son to her husband. “In a similar way to anyone else in town.”

Henry glared at her. She had always held a weakness for the down and out but she had never openly contradicted him. “We will not discuss this here.” He turned to Charles. “Go with your mother to get some refreshments.”

Catherine gave a barely audible sigh but she said no more and took her son’s arm.

Henry leaned in to the boy’s other ear. “And make sure she ends up nowhere near that woman of Baker’s.”

 

 

Joseph shook Mr Foster’s hand and watched as the man moved on to speak with someone else. “I think we should have a cup of tea to warm our bones before we go.” Joseph rubbed his hands together. “Millie and the girls have theirs.”

They set off together towards the refreshment tent. William glanced around as they walked.

“Looking for someone?” Joseph asked.

William’s cheeks had a pink glow. “Not in particular.”

“I believe the Prossers are away.”

William pulled up and gave his father a penetrating look. “Who said I was looking for them?”

Joseph grinned. William was smitten by Georgina Prosser, their nearest neighbour. They all knew it, as much as he tried to hide it.

“What do you think about Mr Foster’s suggestion, Father?” William changed the subject.

“It’s certainly worth considering.”

“You don’t sound eager.”

Joseph looked into his son’s bright eyes. William had hung on Foster’s every word. “Mr Foster has given us much to think about.”

Suddenly Henry Wiltshire stepped in front of him.

“How dare you come to this public event and bring your … your woman with you.”

Joseph gaped at Henry. The man was not his friend but he was thrown by the open hatred etched on his face. Henry’s son Charles stepped in beside his father, a similar glower furrowing his young face. Joseph glanced around. Thankfully they were a small distance from the nearest people and, he hoped, out of ear­shot. He locked his gaze back on Henry.

“My wife and I are interested in your venture.” Joseph couldn’t help but lift his lips in a smile. Henry had gone quite red in the face with indignation. “The same as the rest of the district.”

“You’re not welcome here,” Henry hissed. “You and your …” He flicked his gaze over William. “… tribe.”

Joseph ignored the barb. “There was an open invitation in Hawker for all to see.”

“An open invitation for decent people. It’s distressing for sensi­tive people. I don’t want my wife upset. And how dare you collar the local member? He’s a generous man but he would not want to be involved in your sordid family affairs.”

Joseph drew himself up. “Mr Foster is a sensible man who sought me out for my opinion on farming matters.”

“What?” Henry snorted. “That’s preposterous.”

Charles mimicked his father and beside him, Joseph could sense William’s anger. There was no point in continuing. He wasn’t in the mood for Henry’s open antagonism and he didn’t want to cause a scene that would only distress Millie. “We’re leaving now anyway. I’ve seen enough of this foolhardy scheme of yours.”

“Foolhardy, is it?” Henry’s voice rose a little and those nearby looked at them. “We will be supplying cream to the district and the rest of South Australia, and then butter. We’ll see who’s fool­hardy then, Baker.”

Joseph didn’t bother to reply. “Come on, William.” He moved off in Millie’s direction.

From nearby came the sound of happy laughter. Joseph glanced across to where Catherine Wiltshire was being told some kind of joke by the two visiting MPs. Mrs Wiltshire’s eyes were bright and her cheeks were rosy.

So much for being upset, Joseph thought.


About Tricia Stringer

 Tricia Stringer is the bestselling author of the rural romances Queen of the Road, Right as Rain, Riverboat Point, Between the Vines, and A Chance of Stormy Weather and the historical sagas Heart of the Country and Dust on the Horizon, the first two books in the Flinders Ranges series.

Queen of the Road won the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award in 2013 and Riverboat Point and Between the Vines were shortlisted for the same award in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Tricia grew up on a farm in country South Australia and has spent most of her life in rural communities, as owner of a post office and bookshop, as a teacher and librarian, and now as a full-time writer. She now lives in the beautiful Copper Coast region with her husband Daryl. From here she travels and explores Australia’s diverse communities and landscapes, and shares this passion for the country and its people through her stories.

For further information go to triciastringer.com or connect with Tricia on Facebook or Twitter @tricia_stringer.


We hope you enjoyed this sample of Jewel of the North by Tricia Stringer - coming May 2017!

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