A Woman of Spirit
Redwoods Series, Book 1
It is often a spur-of-the-moment decision that can become a turning point in life. So it is for Kitty Morland, a young woman in London in 1878.
When she yields to temptation one fateful day, the consequences of her action force her to flee to Australia, hoping to join her brother.
On the other side of the world, she meets two men–William, an expatriate English aristocrat, and Rufe, a charismatic Colonial entrepreneur involved with trading in diamonds and in the goldfields.
Beautiful and spirited, Kitty needs all her courage and determination to survive the ordeal of marriage to William, a bullying husband. When he is drowned it leaves her alone to give birth to a daughter and to run a timber-cutting business in a male-dominated era that considers a woman only as an obedient homemaker and bed-warmer.
When she is offered a chance at love and happiness with Rufe, will she make the right decision?
The move took place a few days later. Rufe had taken on the responsibility of seeing them safely installed in the new house. He arranged the hire of a large carriage with two men, which duly arrived early on the appointed day. He supervised the loading of their belongings, and traveled with them to Neutral Bay to make sure all went smoothly for them.
Bella smiled as she saw him directing the men, for all the world as if it was his own move. “A man can never resist taking over,” she whispered to Kitty “They all think we’re helpless. But he’s really been such a big help.” Seeing the men carrying the large trunk into the house, she left Kitty alone in the dining room and hurried into the hall to show them where to put it.
Kitty was lifting a basket onto a table ready for unpacking when a hand covered hers. Startled, she looked up to meet Rufe’s gaze.
“Let me take that. It’s too heavy for you.”
Kitty saw a flash of attentiveness in his eyes. Her heart thumped as she relinquished her hold.
His gaze held hers as he took the basket and placed it on the table. “You’ve got a smut on your face; let me get rid of it for you.” He took a snowy handkerchief from his pocket and wiped her cheek. “That’s better.” He replaced the handkerchief in his pocket then let his fingers slide gently down her cheek. “It’s too pretty a face to have a blemish on it.”
Kitty’s cheek tingled beneath his touch. She drew in her breath as he took a step closer.
“Kitty—” The door opened as one of the men carried another basket into the room.
“I’m told this belongs in here, mate.”
Rufe stepped back and turned. “Yes. Just put it here, alongside this one.”
Kitty started to unpack the basket on the table, hoping the action covered her confusion. She felt sure he had been about to kiss her; she had seen it in his eyes. And she had wanted him to. Very much. And she was sure he knew.
At that moment, Bella bustled in to report that the men had finished unloading, and the carriage was ready to leave.
“Then I must leave with them,” Rufe said. “It would be a long trip back to town on foot. I’ll call and let you know as soon as I hear anything from my agent up north.”
“Thank you so much, and for all your help today. I don’t know how we’d have managed without you,” Bella told him.
“It’s my pleasure. I’m sure you’ll be very comfortable here.” He turned to Kitty with a warm smile. “Kitty, we must resume that discussion some other time. Good day, ladies. I’ll see you again soon.”