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Sentenced to transportation to Australia, for trying to kill her incestuous father, Maryanne Watson boards a convict ship. During the journey she meets and falls in love with an American convict, Jake Smith. Jake hides a terrible family secret that if it ever saw the light of day, would send him to the gallows.
When they arrive at the penal colony, she is assigned to Captain Miles Fitzhugh. After he rapes her she flees for her life. She finally meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang, gone bush and lives with the aborigines.
They roam the wilderness together trying to find their utopia. When Maryanne falls pregnant, Jake, who has a price on his head, risks coming out of hiding, so he can legally marry her so their child will not be born illegitimate.
She remembered the cold. Frigid, bitter cold! Cold fingers, cold toes, cold streets as the loose marbles of gravel pushed between the cracks in the soles of her worn shoes and wedged uncomfortably against the callused balls of her cold feet.
The malicious winds whipped and blew torrents of icy pellets as the buttons of her ragged, moth-eaten coat fought unsuccessfully to protect her.
Exposed to the harshness of the New York winter, her cheeks, numb from the frostiness, froze as she looked to the street sign. “Only ten more blocks,” she voiced aloud to the empty, arctic night.
Ten more blocks wasn’t bad at all! She’d already come so far! Ten blocks was nothing.
Her tired feet stumbled against the rough sidewalk as she balanced opposite the wintry blast of the terrible blizzard.
Only ten more blocks. Ten more blocks until warmth. Ten more blocks until solace of the homeless shelter. Ten more blocks until a bed with a blanket. Only ten more blocks.
Her tiny feet pounded out the rhythm on the pavement, “Ten more! Ten more!”
A shadow from the alley loomed before and she inhaled as a large figure darted ahead. Her scream echoed down the deserted street. “Rats! Damn gutter rats!” she said with relief as she regained her senses and resumed her journey. “Nine blocks. Nine blocks.” Her stride pounded.
Experienced rationalization told her the last few blocks were always the worst in a storm. She focused on her steps and the sidewalk in front of her. Her feet were as frozen as her face and she felt they hardly moved at all. As if in a nightmare, the blocks seemed to elongate the farther and faster she walked. She came to one crosswalk, and another it seemed, radiated to a thousand more.
“Six more. Six more. Only six more,” her heart cried out. Surly she could make six after traveling thirty. “Six more.” She disregarded the queasy ache of hunger under her ribs. Lack of food was all. Once she got to the shelter, she would eat. They always had something for children to eat there. Always! A bowl of warm potato soup and a crusty piece of day-old bread to sop it up with. Her stomach growled under her coat as she passed over an open sewer grate.
Steamy, smelly warmth rushed up to meet her as she walked over the rickety, rusted metal bars that split the footway. Heat! Heat for a few minutes would thaw her feet enough to make the last few blocks of her trip bearable. She sat on the grate and consumed its radiation. The smell of the sewer below made her stomach perform wretched twists, but the warmth was so comforting. Heat! Heat after so many blocks of deplorable freeze.
Mother Nature’s accursed hand seemed to spare the area of the sewer grate. Outside on the sidewalk around her the wretched weather continued, but over the iron bars, above the glow of the sewer, she felt safe and secure, finally. Perhaps she would not have to tread those last few blocks. Perhaps life would continue here until the storm passed. Perhaps her entire life, all the suffered beatings, all the starved nights alone, searching all the lonely streets for acceptance, led her to this one moment above the comforting sewer. Warmth! Friendly warmth circled her in a thick, misty cloud.
“Child! Child! Come here!” a deep voice shouted from the umbra of fog that surrounded her.
She tried to turn her head to its direction but the warmth paralyzed her, surrounded her, took her to a grave, balmy place encompassed by amicable soft lights and everlasting rest.
“Girl?” the voice said again, “Are you all right, child?”
Sally’s body became listless as the stranger grabbed her, shook her, and turned her toward him. Her brain said to run. Run from the stranger! Run! Run! Her body said, Stay! Stay on the heat. Stay. Sleep.
5 Stars! “Savage Utopia has a fascinating plot. There is a lot of violence and brutality, but that was the life of the prisoners. Margaret Tanner gave each character a distinct voice. Maryanne began as a naïve young woman; by the end of the story, she has matured into a remarkable woman. Denied his birthright, Jake is angry and violent. I enjoyed his character for the way he developed from a womanizing criminal to a loving person. My favorite character was Libby; her character had incredible depth. She was a feisty survivor. Fans of historical romance will enjoy Savage Utopia.” Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com
5 Books! “Margaret Tanner creates a story of inextinguishable love and of the indomitable desire to survive shown by some prisoners transported from England to Australia in the 1800s. While Savage Utopiais a fictional story, much of it is based on historical facts. It is a spellbinding story of the disenfranchised people of England and Ireland who were transported to Australia to serve prison sentences in the dehumanizing penal system there. Many of the prisoners, after serving their time, chose to make a life in this new land.
Margaret Tanner’s characters come alive as they struggle to survive in the wilds of Australia, a harsh land but one of magnificent beauty totally different from England and Ireland. Savage Utopia is a prequel to Stolen Birthright and I’m hoping to see a sequel in the no-to-distant future. Good reading!” Camellia, The Long And Short Of It Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 210
Paper Weight (lb): 9.0
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