Book Club: The Currency Lass

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Author: Tea Cooper
ISBN: 9781489226556
RRP: $29.99

Tea Cooper is the Australian author of both contemporary and historical Australian fiction, none of which I had previously read.

The Currency Lass is an historical story set in the early 1850s in the Hunter region, now some of the town names (because they were towns back then) were familiar but many of them definitely were not. I must say I was intrigued by the descriptions of Bathurst because that’s a place I have been.

Cooper has painted a vivid picture of a young Australia, definitely still a land of wide open spaces. Not even talk of a train, it’s all horseback, carriages and steamboat to get around. This book combines historical fact with a vibrant imagination to bring to life the Australia of the 1850s as gold-fever was striking.

Catherine Cottingham is the sole heir of her beloved philanthropic father, she has been groomed to take over the running of Cottington Hill when the time comes and she looks forward to continuing his life’s work. With that in mind she can’t understand why he is so determined that she marry wealthy Sydney businessman Henry Bartholomew, a man that she finds repellent and distasteful. A character that I found odious from his very first scene and only grew to loathe more as the story unfolded.

Catherine has no intention of marrying Batholomew and she tells him so on their first outing, to the circus. Unfortunately for Catherine when her father passes away and the will is read the reasons her father wished her to marry the wealthy businessman become clear, but Catherine is no closer to being convinced that it’s the right decision.

Inheriting the property is only possible once she reaches twenty-one; so in the meantime it is held in trust by the family solicitor, who also believes she should marry. The marriage seems like it could be a good idea, Bartholemew will pay off the mortgage on the property and it will be owned outright but Catherine doesn’t believe he has honourable intentions when it comes to Cottington Hill. The minute she does marry all of her assets will pass to her husband, she isn’t able to own property as a married woman. The only option she can see that works is to avoid Bartholomew until she reaches twenty-one and is able to inherit the property in her own right.

Catherine is an independent and headstrong young woman, determined to be mistress of Cottington Hill and have the property be her only love, if only she can stay away from Bartholomew long enough. She is also an accomplished horse rider so watching the circus tricks made her long for the exhilaration to be found performing them. Her desire to avoid Bartholomew and the circus heading to the goldfields prompt her to do what many people have dreamed of doing, and run away with the circus.

There is more to Rudi’s Equestrian Circus than meets the eye. They travel the countryside in search of audiences but that is not all they seek. Sergey, one of the star attractions, is on the hunt for revenge and he won’t rest until he finds the man responsible for his brother’s death. His desire for revenge has overtaken his life but Catherine’s addition to the circus may just remind him there’s more to life.

The Currency Lass is a tale of the thirst for revenge but also of betrayal, forgery and greed. It isn’t all dark and dishonourable, alongside the depravity is a deep sense of love, loyalty and sacrifice for the greater good.

The characters are complex and the situations they end up faced with become a little too coincidental creating extra confusion and adding an extra layer of tension. This was an engrossing novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and would love to see a sequel set a few years in the future that lets us see how things have panned out for our fair-haired heroine.

The Currency Lass is book #9 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017

Tea Cooper can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

The Currency Lass is published by Harlequin Mira and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin Mira 20 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading The Currency Lass so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

20 thoughts on “Book Club: The Currency Lass

  1. The Currency Lass was an easy enjoyable read.

    We follow Catherine Cottingham on her journey to escape what it seems an arranged type of marriage. When her father passes away she learns she is intended to marry the pompous Bartholomew, who sounds gross! From his stinky breath to ridiculously arrogant behaviour.
    Catherine isnt quite 21, the legal age she can be to inherent her fathers farm so until then marriage to Bartholomew is really her only option. So instead of marrying this man she runs away with the circus until she turns 21 and legally can be Femme Soul of the property….however we come to find it isn’t so easy and as always money is a big issue….
    Catherine meets circus equestrian Sergey, who sounds hot! Haha 🙂 he also is on a mission to clear his late brothers name and their paths intertwine in a way.

    I liked this book and look forward to reading more by Tea Cooper – a sequel would be great as I’d like to see where it goes for Catherine amd Sergey.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Harlequin books for another great review

  2. Just a beautiful story of Catherines heartache and love set in picturesque Hunter Valley landscapes that make you feel like you are really there.
    Tea Cooper is a wonderful, talented writer who had me captivated quickly and it was such a flowing book as I liked how it didnt go back and forth like other books but just flowed with ease of reading.
    This is the first time I have read a Tea Cooper novel and I must say it won`t be the last. I loved the sneak peek of The Cedar Cutter as it really felt like she ingaged her readers and to let us know of her other books so we can continue a journey of her talented gift of writing.
    Tea made me love Catherine, Archie and Sergey and be absolutely rovolted by Bartholomew. This book would make a fabulous movie or mini series and I would love to read life beyond this, a next chapter of their lives following how Cottingham evolves as did think through the book that maybe Catherine and Sergey would breed horses and make a great living keeping on everyone at Cottingham.
    This book was a real page-turner and would highly recommend to anyone who loves reading.
    Thankyou so much to B & Lace, Harlequin and especially Tea Cooper, no wonder she`s a best selling author!!!
    Callout to Tea Cooper……….Please write another continue on from The Currency Lass! xo Loved it!

  3. The Currency Lass is a period romance set in the mid 1800’s.
    I loved the language used in this book, old school but still relateable to the modern world.

    The main character Catherine Cottingham is set to inherit her father’s Maitland property after his sudden death during a trip to Sydney to ‘marry her off’ the the repulsive but well-to-do Bartholomew.

    But Catherine only has eyes for the mysterious circus performer, Sergey Petrov & his timely appearance in her home town of Maitalnd has her drawn into his circus world.

    It seems life isn’t meant to be simple for the strong willed Catherine; I loved how she qas a mixture of dainty society girl & rough led up horsewoman not afraid to stand her ground.

    Also, the descriptive scenery in this story is very enveloping, I found myself picturing a Hunter Valley of old (& I live not far from Maitland/Morpeth area so that was very interesting!)

    Tea Cooper has written a very beautiful & engaging story in The Currency Lass, it captured my interest & my heart from start to finish.

  4. Interestingly there are many strong characters in The Currency Lass who all have a story to tell. Catherine, saddened by the death of her father is being forced to marry Henry in order to save her inheritance. Henry, being a wealthy Sydney businessman man appears to have a sinister hidden past. She meets Sergey, a circus rider and star of the travelling circus. He and the circus are the immediate answer to stalling her marriage to Henry, who she doesn’t want to marry! She is encouraged to go with the circus by Archie, a farm hand and close to her until her birthday. Catherine, being a good horse rider joins the show along side Sergey. As the circus travels to where the people are in the gold fields of the Hunter Valley area she meets and assists others. This in time finally leaves Catherine having to return to her home and looking like she has to marry the man she hates in order to save her inheritance. A few twists here and there, interrupted by forgery and misunderstanding. Set in mid 1800’s where matters were often dealt with outside the law it is an interesting story to the end.
    Tea Cooper has captured the essence of each character, some you will like, others not so much.
    A must read to the end!

  5. This is a well written story by Tea Cooper set in colonial NSW during the gold rush time. Currency lads and lasses were the first generation born in the colony to convict parents.
    Catherine’s father who is dying of cancer wants her to marry a wealthy Sydney businessman Bartholomew who is his age and she cannot understand why he is trying to push her into a marriage that she does not want. After her father’s sudden death, as his only heir she inherits everything, but only when she turns 21 and she discovers that if she marries, all her possessions would go to her husband and she certainly does not want that to happen. Catherine is determined not to marry Bartholomew and decides to run away with the circus and not to return to the family property until the day of her 21st birthday, in 6 months’ time, when she would inherit the property in her own right. Can Catherine elude the determined Bartholomew until she turns 21 and refuse to marry him?

    I definitely recommend this novel and would like to thank Harlequin Books and Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read and review it.

  6. Thank you for the offer to review this Australian book, The Currency Lass by Tea Cooper. It is always great to read a book by an Australian author.

    It is the story of Catherine Cottingham who lives in the Hunter Valley, NSW in the 1850’s.

    Catherine is visiting Sydney with her sick father, there she meets Mr. Bartholomew a man her father has decide she should marry. She goes with Mr. Bartholomew where they visit a circus. It’s a place she loves and enjoys especially Sergey Petrov who is a horseman.

    Unfortunately her father dies while they are in Sydney and she must return home to bury him in Cottingham Hill.

    After his death Catherine learns of debts she didn’t know about, so in that case the property and possessions will then belong to her husband. She has the idea that if she hides until her 21st birthday which is months away she will inherit everything.

    She runs away to the circus a place she feels freedom. I loved the book it had many twists and turns. It was well written and goes to show how things have changed for females throughout the years.

  7. The Currency Lass is a dramatic story about a young woman who runs away to join the circus. The eponymous character is Catherine Cottingham, an independent young woman who is orphaned on the verge of her 21st birthday. Her philanthropist father has passed away and left her riddled with a saddlebag of debt. This then leaves her with a tough decision- to marry the horrible but wealthy Henry Bartholomew or to bide her time and inherit the family estate as the sole female heir.

    Over the course of several hundred pages historical fiction writer, Tea Cooper has crafted a delightful slice of Australiana and a book that shares a few things in common with the work of Bryce Courtenay. Cottingham is an inspiring character and a determined woman who shows a natural aptitude for horse-riding. In joining the circus she develops a sense of freedom and empowerment, which is a far cry from the potential alternative she faces. Along the line she also forges friendships with the other circus performers, including the handsome, Sergey Petrov. The question is, will she be able to keep up the act for long enough?

    Cooper has crafted quite a rich and detailed book that blends together facts about Australia in the 19th century as well as fictional characters and elements. The reader is treated to a well-constructed and believable story that is brimming with interesting, believable and well-formed characters. The Currency Lass is ultimately an epic slice of Australian, historic fiction and one that proves to be worth its weight in gold.

  8. I enjoyed reading this book and found it was not heavy as some books set in older eras can be. I loved that the book was set in Australia and particularly that it included Van Diemans Land where I live!

    I liked the main character Catherine who was a sweet 20 year old girl months away from turning 21 which is the age she must be to inherit the property her father worked tirelessly for his entire life. She left in a hard position when she finds out her father was in debt and has made preparations for her to marry a wealthy businessman whom she despises.

    By chance, Catherine meets the trick rider Sergey and runs away with the circus to escape her problems and hide until she becomes of age in the hope she can avoid the marriage. Sergey becomes a 2nd main character to the story and we get to see things from his perspective a lot too. The relationship between Catherine and Sergey builds, and his story entwines with Catherine’s in ways that were unexpected.

    The book focuses on the characters and their interactions a lot more than events but it does weave in some truths about the 1850s such as the gold fields, locations etc. It’s great to read the information about this is included at the end of the book and explains what is based on truth and what was fiction.
    While I enjoyed the read, I found the ending and the final few chapters were a little disappointing. I think the last few chapters were a little almost unbelievable, and the ending needed to go on for a little longer. For me I found it was too much of a classic ‘happily ever after ending’ but if you like books that give you closure you will enjoy this ending as there is not a great deal that isn’t tidied up.

    Thanks to Tea Cooper for writing this book and to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read it.

  9. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read Tea Coopers book The Currency Lass.

    I found the Currency Lass a thoroughly enjoyable book to read especially as it covers a favourite time in Australian history and adds the uniqueness of a women ahead of her time. When most men would find it daunting to have a lady and one as young as Catherine, vying to run and own a property in her own right, Sergey is obviously ok with that. And he is breaking his own rules by seeking out the murderer of his brother and allowing his sister free rein in her life.

    Tea has created a wonderful story around the circus ( who knew that a circus existed in the gold fields) and wove Catherine and Sergey love story into a bizarre circle of events. The information given in the back of the book also was an interesting read.

    I found especially exciting the joy of the horse riding tricks that Catherine found, something to call her own in a life that would have otherwise have been boring and follow the life of everyone elses, had it gone down the road of the marriage to Bartholmew.

    Well done Tea, not just the usual read.

  10. Thanks everyone for your lovely reviews. I’m thrilled you all enjoyed my Currency Lass. As to a sequel … I hadn’t planned one but you never know!

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