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 read which I really enjoyed.

    The book is set in the Hunter Valley, NSW, in the 1850s when Gold is just beginning to be discovered throughout Australia.

    We see Catherine waiting to turn 21, when her father dies. In his will, although he leaves his vast estate to her, Catherine must marry the man her father has chosen for her, as he has the means to pay out the debt on the farm. But once she marries, the farm will pass to her husband, as no married woman in 1850 can hold property. Catherine does not want to marry this man, and she does not trust him to keep and run the farm as her father intended her to. She feels responsible for all the tenants on the farm, many of whom were once convicts, and she thinks that that the farm will be sold after she marries.

    In Sydney, Catherine visits the Circus, and is spellbound by the performers and their horse skills. She gets chosen to participate in an act on stage, and something ignites in her when she is close to Sergey, the maitre de cirque.

    After she leaves the circus, she can’t stop thinking about the effect on her, as she realises that her life on the farm has kept her sheltered from many exciting things.

    The story twists and turns as Catherine and Sergey’s paths cross again, as Catherine tries to avoid marrying Bartolommew. She encounters many problems as tries to keep out of his way until she turns 21, as then she can own property as a single lady.

    I found the description of life at the Gold Fields interesting , and sad. How tough a life it was, especially for the women and children.

    I found the story to move along at a good pace, with the exciting twist towards the end a surprise.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace, and to Harlequin Books for the chance to read and review this enjoyable book by Tea Cooper.

  2. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Harlequin Books for the opportunity to review ‘The Currency Lass’ by Tea Cooper.
    The story begins in June 1851 where we meet Catherine Cottingham (the currency lass) visiting Sydney with her ill father (Pa) and is introduced to Mr Bartholomew a repulsive older man who her Pa has decided she should marry.
    She accompanies Bartholomew (reluctantly, as she doesn’t want anything to do with him) to a circus where she is entranced by the performance and in particular by a horseman Sergey Petrov.
    Sadly whilst in Sydney her Pa dies and she returns with his coffin to their property Cottington Hill, west of Maitland where she wants him buried with her mother and three brothers.
    During the journey to Cottington Hill she encounters difficulty with the dray carrying the coffin, and luckily Serge from the circus is on the same route and it able to help.
    Once back home she discovers why her Pa wanted the arranged marriage to the wealthy Bartholomew and due to the law at the time was legally unable to own the property until she turned 21. Then she could become Femme Sole.
    On receiving a visit from Mr Gatenby, Bartholomew’s man advising her marriage is to take place on July 7th, she decides to flee until her 21st birthday in September.
    The circus which is in the area makes the ideal escape and Catherine ends up in the goldfields.
    This was an enjoyable read with a bit of everything, history, lifestyle of the time, romance and intrigue.
    An easy and relaxing read.

  3. Catherine Cottingham knows her father is nearing the end of his life, and will leave her without close relatives. Still, she’s capable of running their property in the Hunter Valley. She sees no need to marry the unpleasant Mr Bartholomew, even though her father is pushing for the wedding.

    After his death, it becomes clear; there are debts Catherine didn’t know about, and her marriage should clear them. But it also means that all her possessions, including the beloved property, will become the property of her husband. She will have no say over what happens to them. Mr Bartholomew is attempting to ride roughshod over Catherine and rush the marriage – so she determines to hide until her 21st birthday, only months away, when she can inherit in her own right.

    Catherine literally runs away with the circus. Here she discovers a greater freedom than she’d known before; a knack for performing on horseback; friendship – and just possibly love. But there are secrets, too, and these might cause her to lose everything.

    This is a lively tale, told with considerable verve and a contemporary vernacular. The characters are strong and believable. The plot is well constructed, and makes good use of the period setting – the relatively small population, the difficulties of travel, and the slowness of communication.

    I found the first twenty pages a touch slow, but once the story hit its’ stride, the pace picked up and I was absorbed in the action and the characters. This is probably more a character story than an action orientated one, but the action is well paced and believable.

    There were only two flaws in this novel for me, and both are minor. One is that some important parts of the plot revolve around people jumping to conclusions rather than just asking questions outright. This is pretty true to life, but I still find it irritating.

    The second is that late in the novel there is a pretty simple solution to Catherine’s problems, which she completely overlooks, and so does everyone around her. I can’t say more without producing some big spoilers, but I was surprised that this wasn’t even discussed.

    Overall, though, this was a really enjoyable novel. It produces some interesting ideas and situations that are quite original in the context of a period novel, the characters and story are strong, and the writing sweeps you along. It didn’t take long to involve me, and it was a pleasurable read.

  4. The Currency Lass is another beautifuly written book by Tea Cooper
    The story beings when the main character Catherine and her farther travel from the property in the Hunter Valley NSW to Sydney NSW to meet up with a Mr Bartholomew, her father has decided he is a suitable husband for Catherine, unfortunately tragedy strikes
    ( not giving away any more don’t want to spoil for readers)
    Catherine is a beautiful strong woman who knows what she wants and is also a very caring person.
    Catherine is set to inherit the property when she turns 21 only to find out that Mr Bartholomew holds debts against the property,
    In the 1800s if women married the property automatically passed on to the husband.
    Catherine runs away with the circus she is trying to hide till she turns 21 , they eventually reach the gold fields there are a lot of twists and turns in this section of the book and I don’t wish to spoil for readers,
    Thank you for selecting me to read this book
    I throughly enjoyed

  5. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books for the opportunity to read and review Tea Cooper’s book The Currency Lass.

    Even before reading the book I felt I had gained something from Cooper’s Author’s Note explaining what a Currency Lass or Lad was. A day in which you learn something new is never a wasted day.

    The story begins in 1846 in Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land (later to be renamed Tasmania) with the hanging of an innocent man and a vow by his brother to bring the true guilty party to justice.

    We then move to New South Wales, in 1851, where we meet Catherine Cottingham, her adored but extremely ill father Reginald and Henry W Bartholomew the man her father has inexplicably chosen for her to marry. It would be nigh on impossible for anyone reading the book not to share Catherine’s distaste for Bartholomew with Cooper’s descriptions of him as a man with hot sweaty hands and foul breath, surrounded by a suffocating cloud of unwashed linen, brandy and stale tobacco. I could feel my stomach heaving in sympathy with Catherine’s.

    Much as Catherine wishes to accompany her father to his physician’s appointment she is persuaded instead to attend Rudi’s Equestrian Circus with Bartholomew, a spectacle Bartholomew is sure that Catherine as a skilled rider will enjoy. And Catherine is mesmerised by the horses Tsar and Tsarina, by the skill of Princess Valentina, but most of all by the maitre du cirque astride the white stallion, Tsar.

    However when Catherine returns to where she and her father are staying it is to discover that her father has died, and with her mother and 3 brothers all dead and buried at the family property Cottington Hill, she is the heir apparent.

    Catherine’s independent streak and refusal to behave like a woman in the mid 1800’s is apparent when she defies Bartholomew, who has taken it upon himself to organise the funeral for Reginald in New South Wales, complete with professional mourners and organises for her father’s body to be returned to Cottington Hill to be buried alongside her mother and her three baby brothers

    Things go from bad to worse after Catherine meets with the family solicitor, Mr De Silva and realises quite how fraught the family finances are. She begins to understand why her father had been so anxious to have her married off to a man of means, but is horrified when she discovers that under the law of the land, once married Cottington Hill would become her husband’s property. Catherine is not convinced that Bartholomew’s intentions towards the property, and all the tenants who live there are honorable, but is caught in the dilemma that as she is not yet 21 she is unable to inherit the property in her own right.

    So, with six months to go until she is able to inherit the property as femme sole, there is only one thing to do to ensure she is not married to Bartholomew, Catherine runs away and joins the circus!

    Although Catherine’s intention is to make herself inaccessible to Bartholomew until she is old enough to inherit Cottington Hill in her own name, joining the circus thrusts her into a world where much is not as it seems, and a web of fraud and forgery reaches out to entangle her.

    I loved the way Cooper mixed fact and fiction, real places and imagined into this well written story, dealing with the realities and expectations of life in the mid 1800’s, the highs and lows of the goldfields and the gold rush and the tying together of all the loose ends. I admit to being a little disappointed in the ending and think this could have been dealt with better with just a few lines more. However overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

  6. What a great Aussie drama set in the time of the Gold rushes!

    This is a relatively new genre for me but I must say from the few books I have recently read its fast becoming a favourite!

    I love the mixture of fact and fiction, the familiarity of knowing the towns and landmarks to me brings a sense of comfort and ease when picturing the story unfold in your mind.

    It was a easy book to read but with enough twists to keep you entertained and hoping for more. I loved the character of Catherine, a strong independent woman stuck in a time where being a woman with ambition and a plan was looked down upon. I enjoyed watching her story unfold as she fought to keep what was rightfully hers.

    This is my first book of Tea Coopers and I found her writing very discriptive yet easy to read. Infact I enjoyed it so much I have ordered two more of her books!

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and to Harlequin Books for the chance to read this book.

  7. What a lovely sweet story. Full of anticipation, dread, adventure, love, resolve, revenge and finally a happy ending. Thanks to Harlequin Publishers and Beauty & Lace I was able to experience this lovely Australian period piece by Tea Cooper ‘The Currency Lass’.

    From the opening of the book the reader feels a sense of urgency. Set in country Australia in the 1850s we are introduced to a startling hanging in Van Diemen’s Land. The book then continues on 6 years later with the main character Catherine Cottingham, a young girl of 20 visiting Sydney with her sick, elderly father. You soon learn of her father’s desire to have his single young daughter secured in marriage before he dies. But his choice is one Bartholomew, an elderly, loathsome Sydney businessman whom Catherine meets and detests. Little do we know at the time that this man has a murky past, tied up with the opening events in Van Diemen’s Land.

    Set in the NSW Hunter region, Catherine inherits her family farm Cottingham Hill after her father, her last remaining family member, dies of cancer. Catherine doesn’t reach the legal age of 21 for six months and so her father had arranged for her to marry in order for the property debt to be paid off. Once married all Catherine’s property legally reverts to her husband. She is determined for this not to happen, lose the farm and fail all those living there and reliant on its success. Trying to escape a looming marriage she takes on a equestrienne job with a travelling circus. An immediate attraction to Sergey, a fellow horse lover, ensues.

    All seems perfect, she has success with her circus routines, she feels safe and free. But soon a mystery unravels. It seems that Bartholomew is not what he purports to be.

    We are introduced to other lesser characters as well that make the book feel rounded. You begin to understand the close relationship between Catherine and those living around her. We also get a sneak peak into the lives of those running and performing in the circus.

    The book touches upon the social structure of the 1800s, specifically the restrictions and difficulties particularly women faced in that era. Having no say, being ruled by their husbands, having all property reverting to their husbands. The situation portrays Catherine as a kind hearted, strong willed young women who possesses a strong social conscience.

    And even towards the end when one of the dramas is resolved, you are still left with a sense of wonder. But finally all the missing pieces realign and a happy ending ensues.

    A lovely read. Not an overly complicated story line but one that keeps you intrigued and it’s well worth a read.

  8. The Currency Lass begins with a short prologue about an innocent man being sent to hang in 1846 in Van Diemen’s Land.
    The story then moves on to 1851, in the NSW location, where we are introduced to the main character of the story, Catherine Cottingham.
    Catherine is 20 years old, and her only other living family member is her ailing father. His dying wish is to see that she is happy and taken care of, so he arranges for Catherine to marry a wealthy businessman by the name of Henry Bartholomew. However, Catherine has no interest in Bartholomew whatsoever, but goes on one date with him to the circus to please her father.
    She is mesmerised by the circus, and a horseman catches her eye.
    On returning from the date, she sadly discovers that her father has passed away. Bartholomew arranges for him to be buried in Sydney, but Catherine refuses. Instead, she plans to return to their property, Cottington Hill.
    On the return home, she encounters some trouble and a gentleman comes to her aid. It turns out it is the horseman from the circus, Sergey. He explains that the circus is travelling through, and she offers them to camp on her property free of charge as a sign of gratitude for his help.
    Once back at Cottington HIll, she meets with the family solicitor, Mr DeSilva, who informs Catherine that debts are owed, and financially, things don’t look great.
    She is even more shocked to discover that if she marries, then her husband would be entitled to her property, and she will have no control over matters.
    Catherine doesn’t trust Bartholomew and doesn’t want to marry him, and when DeSilva tells her that she will inherit the property on her 21st birthday, she decides to go into hiding until the day arrives when she can call Cottington Hill hers and hers alone.
    She voices her concerns to Sergey, who offers her a job at the circus for 6 months, until her 21st birthday. She accepts, but soon discovers that it is not as glamorous as she thought it would be.
    They travel to the goldfields, and Catherine is determined to see it out until her 21st birthday, but will it all go to plan?
    We also find out how the opening scene of the story ties in with this part of the novel.
    I don’t want to spoil it so won’t elaborate further, but I really enjoyed The Currency Lass. The author combined many facts within the fiction, which I thought was great. I also learnt the definition of ‘Curreny Lass/Lad’, which was really interesting.
    Thanks so much to Beauty And Lace, and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to review!

  9. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for the book to read and thank you to Tea Cooper for telling such a wonderful story.

    The Currency Lass is an enthralling read with fact and fiction thrown into the mix.
    I never knew that there was such a term as a currency lass or lad so there were a few little things I learnt by reading the Author’s note at the beginning of the book.

    The story begins in Hobart in 1846 and this short little beginning chapter will have a whole lot more meaning later as the story progresses.

    We then move forward to Sydney in 1851 where Catherine and her gravely ill father are in Sydney as is determined to make sure Catherine is well looked after upon his demise.
    He has arranged for her to marry Sydney businessman Henry W. Bartholomew. Henry comes calling and it is off to the circus they go on a prearranged date that her father had made. There Catherine sees Sergey the charming and charismatic maitre du cirque and his white stallion.
    Upon returning to her father after the date Catherine discovers her beloved father has passed away.
    Henry takes it upon himself to arrange the funeral in Sydney but Catherine just wants her father to be buried near his wife and sons on her family property in the Hunter Valley.

    Now home Catherine heads off the see the family solicitor who tells her that her father had a loan on the property and the only way her father could see for the debt to be cleared was for her to marry this wealthy man.
    Catherine now discovers that she will only inherit the farm on her 21st birthday and also learns that when she marries all her assets will become her husbands and that her role in life will be to provide sons for her husband.
    Catherine is a wonderful strong, stubborn yet determined young woman that can not bear to see her fathers wonderful property lost to some rich businessman that she has to marry.

    Catherine is determined to find a way to keep her fathers property and not have to marry Henry. It’s a hard task and one that will be hard to accomplish, can she do it.

    From here begins a tale of love, loss, friendship, trust, turmoil, betrayal and all given to us with a wonderful insight and understanding of life in the 1850’s.

  10. The Currency Lass – Tea Cooper
    Harlequin Mira
    I’m an avid reader of rural fiction and I’ve usually got the plot sorted in my head a few chapters in, but I’ll warn you – Tea Cooper has some surprises in store for her readers in The Currency Lass.
    Catherine Cottingham is a strong woman a little out of place in 19th century Australia. She knows what she wants and definitely knows what she doesn’t want, so when her father organizes a marriage for her, Catherine knows she will do whatever it takes not to marry her intended, Henry W. Bartholomew.
    Fate comes into play when Bartholomew takes her to the circus and, whilst there, her father dies after a long battle with cancer. Catherine returns to the hotel to find her father’s body and, in her grief, her future is arranged for her. Will it be too late to save her heart and her beloved home?
    Catherine takes matters into her own hands and fate comes a-calling again when she runs into Sergey Petrov, the master horseman from the circus. He offers her a way of escaping the impending arranged marriage and a means to save her beloved farm.
    This sees a trip to the goldfields and gives readers an insight into the terrible conditions families endured during the Gold Rush.
    Sergey has secrets of his own, though, and they may just tear the burgeoning relationship between himself and Catherine apart. When secrets are revealed, suspicions arise about Catherine’s true intentions and this was the twist that left me reading quicker to find out what would happen next.
    When the end came, though, I was unprepared and felt the story ended quite quickly, leaving me with more questions than answers. Maybe there will be a sequel at some stage?
    This is a novel for all of us who have a little bit of gypsy in our soul and love strong female characters. Tea Cooper brings the characters to life as the reader is immersed in their worlds. This is another of her novels that I found hard to put down and felt bereft once it was over.
    – Rebecca Belt

  11. 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

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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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