The Queen’s Colonial by Peter Watt
Opening in 1845, Ian Steele works as a blacksmith in a village outside Sydney, struggling to support his widowed mother. He dreams of another life or serving in uniform for Queen Victoria’s army, but he realises that is just a dream. But then he meets Second Lieutenant Samuel Forbes, born into an aristocratic English family, who wants nothing more than to discard his officer’s uniform. When the two men meet in New South Wales, they are struck by how similar they look, and they develop a quick friendship. Finally, Samuel asks Ian if he will take his place in the British army, and Ian eventually agrees to this dangerous plan, his dream of being in the army now becoming reality.
It’s a risky undertaking, Ian must travel to England, fool Samuel’s family into thinking he is actually Samuel, and then accept a commission into the army. Samuel’s father and brother are alarmed to see the long-lost prodigal son return, and immediately hatch a plan that will put Ian in grave mortal danger. Once in London, Ian finds love with a beautiful but enigmatic woman, but he is forced to part with her to face battle in the Crimean war.
The Queen’s Colonial is an exciting adventure and the first in a new series of books. It’s a very engaging, fast read, with lots of intrigue, love, battle and tension. A first-rate historical read of love and war in foreign lands, with a young colonial in the midst of it all.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Macmillan, RRP $29.99