In book 4 of the Settlers Series, we catch up with most members of the extended family from the previous three books. Annie at 18 is the eldest Carstairs girl. She has lived out at Bathurst west of the Blue Mountains, where she was born just after her Mama, Bella and Papa, Tiger settled there back in 1824. After visiting her brother Tim and his wife Jo just before Christmas 1843, Annie decides to stay in Port Philip, seeking adventure much as her brother did when he set out with Jo the previous year. Annie has inherited her mother’s independent streak, a character trait that sometimes leads her to make the wrong choices.
Jacob O’Quinn works for her brother, and the likeable young carpenter catches Annie’s eye. Jacob is quiet and reserved in his manner, having spent his life with his widowed mother. When handsome Zachary McDowell, the complete opposite to steady Jacob comes along, he sweeps Annie off her feet. Heedless of advice given by others, Annie makes a choice that turns out to be the worst she could ever make.
Restless, Annie decides to return to her home, and Jacob makes the decision to escort her. The journey back across the mountains proves to be a lot more eventful than she assumed it could ever be. The road itself may have seen improvements through the years but there will always be unexpected incidents to turn life around on its axis. A suspected murder brings the might of the law down on the shoulders of the young couple.
Annie was not sure how she felt about her younger sister getting married before her. As the eldest girl, she had always expected to wed first, not that she begrudged sweet Rose her happiness. Nevertheless, a sinking sensation around her middle told her that she felt a touch of jealousy, which she knew was selfish of her.
“Jacob.” They had reached the kitchen door and Annie stopped him with a hand on his arm. “Do you think I am doing the right thing by moving into this house and taking on the responsibilities of helping these girls?”
Rubbing at his chin he seemed not about to answer but then said, “Annie, girl, you have a mind of your own. I gave up trying to work out what happens inside that sweet head of yours a while back. You make your choices and you stay with them, regardless of the consequences, I have found. Why are you asking my opinion when you alone know what choice you wish to make?”
“Because you are my dearest friend, Jacob, and I value your opinion of me?” Annie wanted to stamp her foot at his answer. Why did he never come right out and tell her she is a stupid woman who oft times makes foolish choices.
“There you have your answer, I am your friend, nothing more, so my opinion is useless.” Saying that, he strode off, leaving her standing there as the sun began to set for the day. Annie wanted to shout at the top of her lungs, with no idea just why his answer made her so angry.
Later as they lay in bed, Annie asked, “Rose, are you marrying Leslie soon?”
“Of course she is, she kisses him doesn’t she?” Mary piped up from the other bed.
“He has spoken to Pa, yes. We plan to announce it at Christmas time and wed in the New Year.” Rose sounded happy.
“How did you know that he is the right one for you, Rose dearest? You sound so sure.” Annie turned to face her sister, resting on an elbow.
Rose’s shoulders moved in a shrug. “I asked myself if he was the man I wish to spend the rest of my life with and the answer was yes. I would die if he did not love me as I love him.”
Annie placed a kiss on Rose’s cheek, as she sighed. “I am happy for you that you have found someone you truly love.”
Rose sat up with a jerk. “What about you, dear Annie? You have Jacob who so clearly loves you and yet no mention has been made since you arrived home of you getting wed.”
Nibbling on her lip Annie lay back. “Why is it people tell me he clearly loves me when he himself has never declared this love and says he is just my dear friend.”
Rose patted Annie on the arm. “Oft times my dear sister, I think you are not very wise where men are concerned. Why would he consider you as a wife when you have these unusual ideas and go headlong into them, without once thinking of where it will end, or why he might even think of suggesting sharing his life when you so clearly have other plans?”
“You make me sound selfish and thoughtless, Rosie.”
“He has kissed you,” Mary decided to say. “I saw you more than once.”
“Go to sleep,” Rose and Annie both said.
With a huff, Mary made a big show of lying back down, complaining, “How can I with all this chat going on?”
“I think there are times Annie when you are very like our Mama. Do you recall how she told us of the times she decided to go her own way despite her love for Papa?”
“Yes, and I also recall the reasons why she was so obstinate. Pa did not vow his love for her even when she was certain he did care. I think he broke her heart and that is why she agreed to wed poor Dougal.” They both sighed. Annie turned over and punched at her pillow. “Life is strange is it not, Rose? Perhaps I should ask Jacob once and for all if he intends to ask me to marry him some day.”
“Yes, please do,” Mary shouted across the room. “I will not be so stupid when I find a man I wish to marry. I will go up to him and tell him.”
Rose and Annie laughed but did not reply. Sometimes Annie thought her baby sister was wiser than she would ever be.
Tricia McGill Bio:
Award-winning author Tricia McGill was born in London, England, and moved to Australia many years ago, settling near Melbourne. The youngest in a large, loving family she was never lonely or alone. Surrounded by avid readers, who encouraged her to read from an early age, is it any wonder she became a writer? Although her published works cross sub-genres, romance is always at their heart.
Tricia’s love of animals has always shown up in her books. Tricia devotes as much time and money as she can spare to supporting worldwide conservation groups and is passionate about supporting those who do all they can to preserve our wildlife for future generations, especially elephants and orang-utans who seem to be getting the raw end of the deal even in this enlightened age. She also volunteers for a local community group that helps disabled adults and children to connect to the internet with provided computer equipment. When people ask what she does in her spare time, she is heard to ask, “Spare time, what is that?”
Crying Is For Babies
A Call Through Time
Kate’s Dilemma (Challenge the Heart Book 3)
A Heart in Conflict (Challenge the Heart Book 2)
When Fate Decides (Challenge the Heart Book1)
Amid the Stars
Maddie and the Norseman
Mystic Mountains (Settlers Book 1)
Distant Mountains (Settlers Book 2)
Challenging Mountains (Settlers Book 3)
Remnants of Dreams
Lonely Pride (Beneath Southern Skies Book 1)
A Dream for Lani (Beneath Southern Skies Book 2)
Leah in Love (and trouble) (Beneath Southern Skies Book 3)
The Laird (Wild Heather Book 1)
Travis (Wild Heather Book 2)
An Interview With Tricia McGill by Jamie for TRS
Jamie: Tricia, thank you for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Annie’s Choices which is part of your Settlers series. What can you tell us about the series?
Tricia: Thank you TRS for giving me the opportunity to tell you about my stories. The series, as its title suggests, is about the lives and struggles of a family of Australian settlers. It begins with Bella and Tiger’s story in 1818 when Botany Bay and New South Wales were barely settled areas of this vast land. Convicts were regularly being transported to the penal settlement from Britain for engaging in a large range of crimes, most being trivial. Once the country was discovered by Captain Cook, the plan was formed to clear the overflowing British jails. The convicts remained under the Governments rule while serving their term (Anything from 7 years upwards). After suffering horrible conditions on the long weeks spent mostly below decks on a sailing vessel, they then had to face more suffering once arriving in the colony. Times were harsh and not only did the new settlers have to battle with the military, the heat, the failing crops, the lack of anything that went towards a comfortable life, but they were restricted in the most part until they had served their sentence.
Jamie: What can you tell us about the first three books in the series?
Tricia: The first book in the series, Mystic Mountains begins with Bella arriving on a transport ship from England at the penal colony of Botany Bay. Sentenced to 7 years for a crime against an aristocrat, she already harbours a hatred of the upper classes. Thinking that Tiger Carstairs is gentry, she is set on hating the man who becomes her new master. Tiger is already a successful sheep farmer and he fulfils his dream of heading west across what is now known as The Blue Mountains. The road is hazardous and there are dangers around every bend.
Distant Mountains, Book 2 is Remy’s story. He is Bella’s brother and is transported to the colony around the time that Tiger and Bella settle west over in Bathurst. Remy has his own set of problems to face when he falls in love with the daughter of a bigoted landowner who would never consent to his daughter marrying an ex-convict.
Book 3 Challenging Mountains moves on to 1840. The colony of New South Wales is becoming prosperous, and men are beginning to seek out new pastures and new adventures. Timothy (Tim) is the eldest of Tiger and Bella’s eight children. Becoming bored with his government job, he seeks adventure by heading south where the colony of Port Philip has recently been proclaimed a town. The road south is barely mapped out and it takes a month on horseback and wagon to reach there. His uncle Carlos, another of Bella’s brothers, decides to join him on this epic journey. A headstrong young woman takes it into her head to tag along, causing Tim more than his share of problems.
Jamie: How does Annie’s Choices continue it?
Tricia: The Settlers Series was originally intended to stop at two books, but as is the way with writers, first Tim insisted I tell his tale and so it was with 18 year old Annie, Tiger and Bella’s eldest daughter. She kept me awake at night nagging me to tell her story. Annie travels south with her parents to visit Tim and his wife and to meet their new daughter, and when her Mama and Pa return to their sheep farm at Bathurst Annie makes the decision to stay on with her brother. Independent and with a mind of her own she is prone to making hasty decisions which do not always turn out to be the best.
Jamie: What do you like best about Annie and why will readers identify with her?
Tricia: Annie has to make a few life decisions. Her independent streak, inherited from her Ma, tends to make her stick stubbornly to her choices, even when she suspects they will not have the best outcome. Her innate kindness leads her to befriend people without question. A large majority of women possess such traits. She dreams of assisting young females less fortunate than herself who arrive in the colony, to find suitable employment, an admirable wish for one so young. Unfortunately for Annie, the worst decision she makes brings her heartache. Unsure of her feelings for Jacob, her brother’s carpenter, like most of us she seesaws between emotions.
Jamie: What do you like best about Jacob and why will readers love him?
Tricia: Jacob is a ‘nice guy’ and is steadfast and true. The kind of man most of us would like to have in our life. I could have given him a good shake at times when he let Annie have her way when a good telling off would have set her straight. His adoration for Annie is clear for all to see—all except the woman herself.
Jamie: What did you enjoy most about writing these stories?
Tricia: Because I knew the Carstairs family and all their faults intimately, it was guaranteed that I would stick with them. My main idea when writing Annie’ story was to take the family back to their roots, and across the Blue Mountains again, and to Sydney where their saga began years ago. I found also that readers seem to love hearing about the early days of our country, which I guess mirrors other counties like the USA where the early travellers did not know where they were heading or what awaited them most of the time—just that they sought new pastures and a better life.
Jamie: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
Tricia: I am currently working on another time-travel. Second to my love of historicals, time-traveling fascinates me, for isn’t it just another way of going back into the past and learning how people lived their lives? As yet I am not clear on a permanent title but the story starts in Australia, not far from where I have made my home for many years, and ends up in London, a small step away from the old stomping ground of my early years in North London. Into the second year of WW11, the Blitz is about to shatter the lives of so many Londoners. Most members of my family lived through these times and my eldest sister (The only survivor from my nine siblings) was about 17 when the war began and 3 of my brothers served in the armed forces, so my early years were filled with reminiscences about those times. It was inevitable that I would build a story around it one day.
Jamie: What are you reading?
Tricia: I have just finished Margaret G. Hanna’s ‘Our Bull’s Loose in Town’, told by her grandmother Addie Hanna. A charming story and as expected it is about the struggles of a Canadian couple who headed out to set up a farm on the prairie. I also recently read Roan Rose, a historical written by one of my favourite writers, Juliet Waldron. As you see, I enjoy reading in the genres I most like to write in.
Jamie: What’s your writing schedule like these days?
Tricia: These days sketchy. The day seems to be over almost as soon as it begins. Most of my writing currently is taking place in my head as I work out how my next story will evolve. And then there is the extensive research to be done when you are venturing back in time. As luck would have it, I am in my element when researching.
Jamie: What are your goals for this year?
Tricia: Number one is to finish the book of course. Promotion does tend to take up a lot of our time, and then I have to squeeze in the volunteer work that I do for a community group. Thank goodness for the internet as so much of what we do can be managed online during these extraordinary times. We are coming up to winter in my part of the world so that means more time at the computer and less pottering about in the garden.