The Trader's Wife
This is the first book I've written set in Singapore and the whole series has me very excited. It'll be a five book series.
In 2012 'The Trader's Wife' was shortlisted for the Australian Romantic Book of the Year award (Romantic Elements section). It didn't win, sadly, but it was a great honour to be listed.
I didn't intend to feature Bram as a hero, but he was so vivid as a minor character in 'Destiny's Path' that I couldn't forget him. So he not only got his own book, but his own series. And he's one of my very favourite heroes, not handsome, not rich, but so wonderfully human and loving.
Isabella walked right into my first scene in Singapore. I hadn't worked out much about her when I started, but she showed me clearly what she was like.
Singapore in the 1860s is exotic and yet terrifying for a penniless Englishwoman, alone and vulnerable after her mother's death. Too pretty to obtain a governess's job, Isabella accepts an offer from a Chinese merchant, Mr Lee, to teach him English and live with his family.
Two years later Bram Deagan arrives in Singapore, determined to make his fortune as a trader. Mr Lee sees a way to expand his business connections to Australia and persuades Isabella to marry Bram.
They set up a bazaar in Fremantle, much bigger than the shop Bram had originally planned.He has help from other people, but the ideas are his and Isabella's.
But the past casts a long shadow, and Bram and his wife face unexpected dangers. Will they find a way to achieve their dream of a successful trading business? And can they find happiness and love with each other?
The research for this was fascinating. I bought expensive old books with early photos of Singapore, because you can learn so much more about what life was really like in the past from a photo, than if you read about it through the filter of a historian's mind. I even got a rare book out of the State Library collection and went to the local library to read it, because they wouldn't let me take it home. I spent a small fortune on photocopying relevant parts.
I also talked to a Chinese friend who helped me greatly with the cultural aspects of this story. I find details, like everyday life in a Chinese household, so much more interesting than political framework of history, and I hope my readers will too.
As usual, the Australian library system was wonderfully helpful in the research. It's a wonderful resource for the nation and librarians are delightful people to work with.
I've tried very hard to get the picture of life in the 1860s realistic and hope I've succeeded.
This is the first of three books about Bram, his family and his friends. The Trader's Sister and The Trader's Dream will follow in due course.
After the end of October, you'll be able to buy a copy of The Trader's Wife at the following and other on-line stores, or you can pre-order it: