Title: Fortune’s Son
Author: Jennifer Scoullar
Genre: Historical Fiction/Saga
Heads you win, tails you die …
Can one man’s revenge become his redemption? Young Luke Tyler has everything going for him: brains, looks and a larrikin charm that turns heads. The future appears bright, until he defends his sister from the powerful Sir Henry Abbott. His reward is fifteen years hard labour on a prison farm in Tasmania’s remote highlands.
Luke escapes, finding sanctuary with local philanthropist, Daniel Campbell, and starting a forbidden love affair with Daniel’s daughter, Belle. But when Luke is betrayed, he must flee or be hanged.
With all seeming lost, Luke sails to South Africa to start afresh. Yet he remains haunted by the past, and by Belle, the woman he can’t forget. When he returns to seek revenge and reclaim his life, his actions will have shattering consequences – for the innocent as well as the guilty.
Set against a backdrop of wild Tasmania, Australian Gold and African diamonds, Fortune’s Son is an epic story of betrayal, undying love and one man’s struggle to triumph over adversity and find his way home.
Dawn drifted down through the hole in the roof. Luke opened his eyes. For a long time he lay, heavy-lidded and sleepy in his ferny bed, savouring the unfamiliar experience of waking in his own time, in his own place. With drowsy satisfaction he reviewed the previous day. He was finally free. Now all he had to do was figure out what came next. Perhaps he’d stay here for a while, let any search die down before moving on. One thought still nagged. He’d lost Bear. The big dog would be long gone.
Luke jumped up, shivering, and grabbed a stick to poke the fire. His shoulder hurt where the bullet had grazed him; a bullet meant for Bear. Thank God it had missed its mark. Hot coals hid under grey ashes, and with the help of a little kindling he coaxed a flame to life. Luke squatted by the fire for a few minutes, warming his hands, then picked up the cast-iron pot and pushed out the door. He should have saved some rabbit for breakfast.
Morning lay shrouded in a cloud that had crept, ghost-footed, down from the range overnight. Moisture dripped from each leaf and flower and twig. He prayed it would clear to a fine day. Rain, before he fixed the roof, would make life here very difficult indeed.
Luke stepped onto the grass to empty his bladder. What was that? A movement at the northern end of the clearing stopped his breath. This was it; they’d come for him.
A mob of kangaroos emerged from the mist. Luke exhaled, feeling a little foolish. The idea of wallaby stew took over from his fear, making his stomach clench and his mouth water. The animals cocked their heads, then bounded as one for the forest. Something had startled them. Bear? Luke edged round to where the mob had vanished in the trees. It was hard to get his bearings in the grey blanket of cloud.
His foot connected with something heavy. It rolled away a little. A useful rock for the chimney restoration project, perhaps? His hands found it on the foggy ground. It felt smooth and hard. Luke picked it up. Then, with a gasp, he dropped the object back to earth. A bleached white human skull bounced against his foot. Gaping eye sockets, staring up at him. Luke stepped back. All round, emerging from the mist, lay more scattered bones. A human femur bore tell-tale teeth marks of some wild animal. He gulped and picked up the skull again to examine it. Apart from a few missing front teeth it was intact. Was this the original owner of the hut?
Luke tried to convince himself it was good news. He had nothing to fear from a dead man. But a lingering sense of horror remained. His thoughts turned, despite himself, to dark scenarios. Foul play. Murder. Or did the man fall ill far from help? Did the devils, tigers and wild dogs come for him prematurely, feasting on his living flesh, while screams echoed unheard off the granite tors?
Luke swore aloud. What use was he when his imagination regu‐ larly scared the wits out of him? He forced himself to collect the bones into a pile. At the very least they deserved a proper burial, and although he knew nothing of such things, he would do his best. Using the axe head and a stout branch he tried to dig a grave in the stony ground. Time and time again, tree roots and shale caused him to start over. He had to move further and further into the open, where the earth was more yielding and the ground clearer of roots. The task seemed to take forever and, all the while, the skull stared accusingly from atop its stack of bones.
He’d made good headway when, behind him, a dog barked – too high-pitched for Bear. Luke froze. A man appeared from the forest, rifle raised. At his heels ran a cross-bred terrier, yapping furiously. Luke dropped his tools and raised his hands. Competing emotions ran riot through his brain: disappointment, despair, apprehension – even relief. Whatever happened next, death or capture, was out of his hands.
Minutes ticked by and the standoff continued. Finally the man lowered his gun. ‘And who might you be, young fella?’
Surely this man knew he was an escapee? Ragged prison clothing, if nothing else, gave the game away. Perhaps he was playing some cruel game of cat-and-mouse by feigning ignorance?
‘I asked your name,’ said the stranger. ‘Have you no tongue in your head?’
Why on earth didn’t the man just get on with it? Luke resolved to force his hand, reaching for the axe head lying on the ground. A bullet whizzed past his shoulder. It angered him, made him bold.
‘You bloody well know who I am,’ he said. ‘So take me in if you can, or shoot me, but don’t waste my time.’
The stranger laughed. ‘A word of advice, son. Don’t jump to conclusions. You go round announcing yourself a fugitive to the wrong folks . . . you’re asking for trouble. Me? I take people wholly as I find them, and I ain’t got nothing against you so far. So what say I lower me gun and you step away from that sorry-looking axe head and we have ourselves a friendly talk?’
As a sign of good faith the stranger placed his rifle on the ground and stepped aside.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Universal link: https://books2read.com/FortunesSon
November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
I’m most thankful for my happy, healthy family and the privilege of being able to write stories for a living.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
Snuggle up with Fortune’s Son and feel as though you are watching a movie instead of reading a book.
“I could see and feel everything she described - from the spectacular scenery and caves to the depths of dark, dangerous mines; from extreme poverty to the wealth of the privileged; and from heartbreak and despair to love and happiness. Jennifer Scoullar is an author of rare talent and a fabulous storyteller!” Bestselling author Dorothy Wiley
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Runs November 1 – 30.
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Jennifer Scoullar writes page-turning fiction about the land, people and wildlife that she loves. She has always harboured a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. Jennifer lives with her family in on a beautiful farm in the mountains that was left to her by her father. Horses have always been her passion. Read her books now to discover why Jennifer Scoullar is one of Australia’s favourite storytellers!
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