If Australia’s convict-built roads and sandstone cottages could talk, one could only imagine what they would say.
Romance writer Tea Cooper has spent countless hours in museums and libraries trying to do just that.
The Wollombi-based author captures the essence of colonial-era Australia in her latest historical romance novel, The Currency Lass.
Currency lasses (and lads) were the first generation of native-born Australians of European descent – the children of convicts and emancipists.
The Currency Lass is set in the 1850s, between Sydney, the Hunter Valley and the developing goldfields.
It tells the story of Catherine Cottingham, who, as her father’s only heir expects to inherit their sprawling property in the Hunter Valley (located ten miles west of Maitland).
What Catherine doesn’t understand is why her father is trying to push her into a marriage to the pompous and repulsive Sydney businessman Henry W. Bartholomew.
A visit to the circus brings her hope: Sergey Petrov, the handsome and fiery lead equestrian of Rudi’s Equestrian Circus offers to escort her to her home in the Hunter Valley.
The Currency Lass is Cooper’s third historical romance novel to be set in 19th century Hunter.
It follows The Horse Thief (which was the ninth-highest selling debut fiction title by an Australian writer in 2015), and last year’s release The Cedar Cutter.
Cooper has lived in Wollombi for eight years and says the creative community has been an enormous influence.
Everything from the local museum to the bushfire brigade (which supplied topographical maps) has aided her research.
“I like to find out that certain things happen then weave a fictitious story around them,” she said.
“It’s wonderful living in the area the stories are set.”
Cooper joined Romance Writers of Australia in 2011 and her debut novel Tree Change was released the next year.
She has since written 12 Australian rural stories, both contemporary and historical, with three more in the pipeline.
Cooper is also a member of Hunter Romance Writers, the Australian Romance Readers Association and Wollombi's Pencil Orchids.
Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent said it’s a privilege for the library to be hosting the book launch.
“Drawing inspiration from our stunning landscapes and local history, Tea Cooper’s novels beautifully showcase our region,” Cr Pynsent said.
The Currency Lass will be launched at Cessnock Library on Wednesday, March 1 from 11am to 12pm.
The free event includes morning tea and reservations are required for catering purposes. Call 4993 4399 or visit the library to book your place.