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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
On Different Shores (For Their Country’s Good Book 1) by Rebecca Bryn opens in a country rectory in Victorian England, where Ella has been sent after being caught sharing a kiss with her employer’s son. Whilst Reverend Buchanan seeks a suitable husband for his dowerless protégée, Ella falls in love with Jem, a poor poacher. Pregnant with Jem’s child, she flees her loveless marriage to farmer’s son, Harry, and becomes Jem’s common-law wife. Jem is found guilty of the manslaughter of a gamekeeper. Lucky to escape hanging, he is transported to Van Diemen’s Land for life. Ella refuses to forget him, determined that their child shall know its father. Can Ella raise the money to follow her lover? Will Jem survive the perilous sea journey, manacled in chains?
On Different Shores is a powerful, character-driven story of a young couple and their ill-fated love. Rebecca Bryn has gone a step further than any Romeo and Juliet tale by setting it in Victorian times. Women had no rights whatsoever, but Ella defies convention, earning money any way she can, and giving birth to Jem’s son, resolute in her intention to escape Harry. Will she be defeated by Harry’s single-minded passion to father a son of his own? If she escapes, can she endure crossing the globe with a toddler? Ella will move readers to tears, and to fury; she lives. All Ms Bryn’s characters, the good, the bad, and the ugly, live. On Different Shores is a brilliant historical novel that takes the reader wherever Ella and Jem lead.