The ship ploughed a furrow through the waves as Emma sought fresher air on deck. Still the taint of unwashed humanity lingered though the wind blew the canvas sails like bellows and swept the breeze over the deck. Yet what Emma encountered as she stepped into the light churned her stomach more than the stench.
Tied by the wrists to the mast, a prisoner’s back bled scarlet in the morning sun. Bright drops dotted the lash master’s cravat. Still, the convict didn’t sway as the scourger lashed his back, even though his shirt hung in tatters upon the wide frame of his shoulders.
When the punishment was over, there was weariness in the man’s slow movements, but his step didn’t falter despite the fetters that bound his ankles. He held his shoulders high and his eyes burned with defiance.
He met her look with his own, and she sensed he cared not for her thoughts of mercy. The blue intensity of his stare struck her as hard as the brilliance of the sea.
Somehow Emma felt as if he blamed her for his punishment. Her sense of guilt was unaccountable, but it remained. She fought the desire to turn away.
‘Good morning, miss,’ the convict said. His greeting was a rebuke, nothing more.
‘No words of yours for the lady,’ the soldier snapped. ‘Keep
your eyes averted.’ But the prisoner didn’t listen. His gaze remained fixed, unswerving.
‘What?’ he whispered, his eyes chill and his contempt colder still. ‘No good morrow for the likes of me?’
Emma stared back, words stuck somewhere in her throat, the smile she had mustered swept away.
‘Cat got your tongue?’ He smiled without humour.
‘It certainly didn’t take yours, sir,’ Emma said, as much to herself as to the man who stood above her. If he felt her retort’s sting he didn’t show it. If anything his smile widened, but she suspected it was only due to malice.
Charter to Redemption
Author: D.J. Blackmore
Genre: Historical Romance
At the close of 1821, the penal colony of Newcastle looks to be every bit as black as it’s painted. Emma Colchester charters a ride to Australia with a promise of marriage to a man she has never met. But appearances aren’t always as they seem. And with a commitment unavoidable Emma learns that shackles are not always forged from iron.
Tobias Freeman longs for redemption and hope. After a rough journey to New South Wales, Tobias learns the rations, the regulations, and the reprisal.
But neither Emma nor Tobias expect the repercussions.
D. J. Blackmore is a Hunter Valley, New South Wales author, born and raised. Her convict heritage and love of history have seen the author explore this in ‘Charter to Redemption.’ Yet is is perhaps Australian dogged determination has seen this debut author as a new name in fiction. Although amazon reviews reflect her work, it is pertinent to note that the author’s story is not unique, although her journey in writing has been. Numerous rejections never daunted the author, and many years after her dream was envisaged, so was the reality. Yet for all the countless doubts that niggle every writer who has lived in hope, it is humbling praise indeed when reviewer F. Stanford writes of ‘Charter to Redemption’ and Ms Blackmore’s work: “this could very well be the benchmark for the standard of modern-day classics.”
D. J. Blackmore is currently working on the sequel, ‘Consider the Ravens.’