(Finalist in Long Historical Category of Booksellers' Best Award)
Rather than join her wealthy parents in England, Louise Ashford assumes a false identity and sets off to work as a governess in the pioneer settlements of Central Queensland. She finds herself in the company of a young cattleman of convict descent, a man she knows will never be accepted by her family.
Lloyd Kavanagh finds her work with his neighbours, but their love affair is brought to a sudden end when Louise's brother intervenes, carrying her off to England. Lloyd is devastated when her deception is revealed, and Louise is caught up in a heart-breaking chain of events she is powerless to resolve. She finally returns to Australia, but Lloyd cannot easily forgive.
Separated from his mother at birth, Matt Jones is a brash, confident young man who comes to Australia in search of his origins. Once he finds his family, there are stormy undercurrents with a jealous younger brother and an illicit relationship with Isabella, an innocent neighbour.
Isabella is heartbroken when he leaves her to try his luck at the goldfields. Matt's family intervenes on Isabella's behalf, but only a near-tragedy will make him realise how much he loves her and resolve the conflict with his brother.
"A HIDDEN LEGACY is more than a love story. It is a realistic family saga steeped with family secrets, scandals, and rich, twisting plot themes. Heather Garside has realistically recreated 19th century life in the harsh Australian countryside. Although it is the sequel to The Cornstalk, it easily stands alone.
Drawing on her own, real life experiences regarding her own life and work on an Australian ranch, Ms. Garside has written a realistic, compelling novel about the lives of early settlers in Queensland. This is one of the best Australian novels I have encountered and highly recommend it."
"A HIDDEN LEGACY is not only a love story; it is a timeless, passionate tale about a young man who searches for his roots.
Ms. Garside writes with a confidence that she knows her setting, and she describes the sweeping vistas of the continent in context with the dialogue. The reader sees the countryside as a painting, and smells the rich, pungent odors of farms, fields, and animals.
Not only does Matt find love, he also becomes involved in rivalry, resentment, and accusations. A HIDDEN LEGACY is a wonderful story, emotional without being melodramatic.
Ms. Garside's fantastic novel is one to read and savor, which this reviewer highly recommends."
"I highly recommend A HIDDEN LEGACY, a Historical Romance written by Heather Garside for its intricate plotting, multifarious adventures, and the twisting tale of its family relationships. It's more than just a quick afternoon read.
Raised as the uneducated coachman's son, Matt Jones is astonished to discover the couple who raised him to his eighteenth birthday is not his blood kin. He heads for Australia, where it is reported his natural mother is married to a poor stockman. Wanting to know why she had rejected him when he was young, he follows the leads to seek her out. During his quest, he has his equestrian knowledge to fall back onto for employment.
In his arrogant, bad boy, adventurous fashion he uncovers the gossip behind his family's reputation, which is riddled with sexual indiscretions and scandal… from the affluent Ashfords, to the Kavanaghs, and the Jamiesons. Being a lady's man himself, he finds himself following in their footsteps, until Isabella Jamieson enters his life."
Conger Books Reviews
"Ms Garside's books are fascinating, giving you a definite feel for her homeland, Australia. No only does the romance enthral but the essence of the country draws you in. Although this can be read as a stand-alone novel, it is also a welcome sequel to 'The Cornstalk'.
Eager to find his true parents, Matt Jones leaves his foster parents in England and travels to Australia where he works on his parents' ranch. He meets and falls in love with Isabella, a neighbour's daughter but despite the attraction, when trouble flares between him and his brother, he leaves to go prospecting for gold.
When a travesty of law threatens, aid comes from a most unexpected area and once more he returns to the security of his family. Isabella, devastated by what she perceives as his desertion does not give him the welcome he looks for and it appears that their differences will never be overcome. Little do they know that it will take a life-threatening situation to resolve the state of affairs.
This delightful book is compelling reading and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who enjoys romantic novels."
I was thrilled to receive aTop Pick award from Romance Reader At Heart.
Quote: "THE CORNSTALK is a fascinating, fast paced story filled with exciting action and wonderful characters who interact brilliantly to stir powerful emotions. An imaginative storyline and original plot captivates from the very beginning. For all these reasons, THE CORNSTALK by Heather Garside, is a definite keeper."
I have just received another great review from The Long and the Short of It.
Quote: "In spite of unpredictable tribulations, this tale is often endearing and always evocative. Throughout, Garside's wonderful characters fill your mind, and while interesting, the setting is not intrusive. Romance is romance whatever the land...
4.5 books for some very original and enjoyable characters."
"With beautifully written prose Garside creates characters of exceptional depth--ones that take root in your heart and grow. Louise Ashford, a gutsy and strong Englishwoman takes her future into her own hands rather than allow herself be forced into marriage.
Set against an Australian backdrop, she faces both physical and emotional danger with a fortitude that commands respect and compassion. The Cornstalk is a fast-paced and engaging story of pride, jaw-clenching determination, and romance. This is a truly captivating story from a talented storyteller."
Gottawritenetwork.com also gave The Cornstalk a glowing review.
"The story will take you on a roller coaster of emotions. It's a well-developed romance of two people falling in love from almost the first instance they meet. It's the classic love story, two people from two different backgrounds, two different worlds struggling to make it work between them at all costs. It's one of those stories you wish would never end. I really liked the descriptions; I could picture the clothing, the scenery, the homes, and the people as if I were seeing them with my own eyes. If you are a fan of historicals and a classic romance than this is a book you must add to your book list."
Coffee Time Romance gave The Cornstalk a four-cup review, out of a possible five cups.
"The problems and sadness that Louise had to go through really tore at my heart strings. Miss Garside really makes me think she understands the reality of unwed mother's struggles during that time period. She also made me feel like I was really in Australia. This book really got to me in the end and I fell in love with the character of Louise."