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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
On Common Ground is the last book in Rebecca Bryn’s trilogy, For Their Country’s Good, and the scene changes dramatically for Ella and Jem, and Harry Cartwright, Ella’s husband under English law. Ella reaches Van Diemen’s Land, hoping to find Jem, but as a convict. Jem’s son, William, is in grave danger of death from disease and undernourishment in the nursery where Ella is forced to leave him: the only escape for them both is a man to support them. Ella puts her name forward and is married to Tom, a kind man, but a dreamer, and his dream is of gold. Whilst Jem works towards his conditional pardon, falling from grace often, Ella travels to Australia and treks over the dangerous Blue Mountains, pregnant with Tom’s child. Will either Ella or Jem survive? If they do, will they find each other?
On Common Ground brings together the many threads in Rebecca Bryn’s trilogy, For Their Country’s Good, and every step of the way the characters’ journeys are so vivid you live their experiences with them. “For richer, for poorer” takes on a whole new meaning with danger, passion, guilt, and amazing loyalties conflicting throughout. I feel I have tamed a Thylacine, half dog, half tiger, with a pound bounty if it’s caught, and been attacked by bush rangers on a perilous path over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. A reader couldn’t guess the ending, but it has been a delight, and an honour, to read this trilogy to its conclusion. I recommend it to others unreservedly.