During the 1890s Depression in Australia, Nicola Redmond’s father commits suicide, unable to face financial ruin, leaving her and her mother to face a life of poverty. Nicola is determined that she will not descend to the degrading life of a prostitute. Instead she begins to forge a new life as a schoolteacher for the children of working-class families working in dreadful conditions in the factories. She soon joins the battle for the empowerment of women working in the factories, facing resistance not only from the employers but also the embryonic union movement who see women’s rights as unimportant. When her dearest friend Rose is found murdered in a back alley, Nicola vows to find her murderer. Setting herself up as bait, she plunges deep into a dark world where a deadly stalker has her in his sights.
This is an interesting combination of historical romance, murder mystery and social struggle in industrial Australia. The characters are all well rounded and credible, while the plot is convincing. The dénouement is satisfying, if a little predictable. Fans of historical romance will enjoy this well-written story.