Author: Marjorie Jones
Paul Campbell has fought the Turks, the Germans, and the occasional rogue crocodile, and as a
confirmed bachelor, veteran of the Great War, and jack-of-all-trades in the rough country of Western
Australia, he is free to live the rest of his life in peace. He has only one goal: to make life easier on the
residents of the Outback by flying medicine, supplies, and the rare letter to those who live in Australia’s
sprawling interior. That is, until a new doctor lands on his doorstep begging for a gentle hand and a warm
kiss—even if she doesn't know it yet. Helen Stanwood left the relative comfort of her San Francisco home
with a mission: to forget the pain of her former existence by devoting herself to helping those in need. But
when she arrives in Australia she is faced with the realization that she can't run away from herself, her
past, or Paul.
I can’t believe she has the nerve to walk about the streets dressed like that!”“And her hair. What in the
world would possess a woman to . . . to chop it all off like that?”“You’re behind the times, aren’t you?
You’ve seen those women who come off the ships. Americans and British, most likely, I should think
from the way they speak. And each of them with hair as short as this one.”“Who is she? Have you ever
seen her before?”“No, I can’t say that I have. But you can tell, can’t you? She’s a fast one, that. I know I’ll
be watching my Robert more closely if she stays in town.”Helen Stanwood tensed at the counter in
Bully’s Dry Goods, her fingers cutting into the edge of her change purse. Not only was she completely
uncertain as to which coins she should give to the man behind the counter, but she now had to pretend
she couldn’t hear the remarks coming from behind her.She bit back the threat of tears, ignoring the tight
throb that formed in her throat. Did the three women behind her think she couldn’t hear them?“Please,
take what I owe you and I’ll be on my way,” she pleaded with the clerk, whose red nose and swollen
features reminded her of Jack Dempsey after a prize fight.With large, dirty fingers, he picked through the
coins in her palm and turned to the register. Even the bells that rang out when he tendered her change
mocked her.In the back of her mind, her mother’s strained and pinched voice spoke the oft-repeated
words. You’ll amount to nothing. If you don’t mend your ways, everyone will know you for the whore you
are.She squeezed her eyes closed, hoping the motion would somehow close her ears to the vindictive
noises she’d grown so accustomed to in San Francisco. It didn’t work, and the echo of her mother’s
scolding continued. Perhaps the words wouldn’t have hurt so much if they hadn’t turned out to be
true.Thankfully, the three women behind her moved out of earshot. Helen was left with only the remnants
of their taunts while she collected her purchase—two pieces of candy she no longer wanted—and left the
store.The street outside offered some comfort, despite the broiling heat. She’d finally arrived in Australia.
Not only a land of magic and mystery, Australia also signified her only hope of a new beginning. Wiping
the back of her hand over her brow, she scanned the dusty street. Along the boarded walk, several
automobiles reflected the bright sunlight, although most of the bustling port city still used horses and
draft wagons. She settled onto a bench near the door to wait for Dr. Mallory, opened her clutch, and
withdrew a compact of powder. Her reflection looked tired and unkempt, but she powdered her nose
anyway, then returned the offensive image to her purse.The women who’d made those hurtful comments
appeared at her side. One of them looked upon Helen as though she carried some life-threatening
disease, and then she sneered, pulling her companions in the opposite direction.They were young, the
eldest probably somewhere around her own age of twenty-four years. The youngest was still a child.
Each of them wore a long dress of greenish linen, obviously cut from the same bolt. Sisters. The family
resemblance was apparent in more than their clothes. It was evident in the reddish...
Marjorie Jones is the author of The Jewel and the Sword and The Lighthorseman. She is the recipient of
the Isolde Carlson Award for Excellence in Writing and was named the 2005 Utah Writer of the Year.