"1866 New Zealand: Plucky heroine and haunted hero..."
Reviewed by Dot Dittman
Posted February 25, 2015
In FOOL'S GOLD, Zana Bell has created characters that are
strong, believable, and lovable. Both heroine and hero are
chasing after their own specific pot of gold. Gwen (Lady
Guinevere Stanhope) is an English lady of the manor trying
desperately to earn money to keep her home in England. She
is stranded in New Zealand with practically nothing but
skill as a photographer to keep her from starving. Quinn
O'Donnell is an Irishman come to New Zealand seeking gold
and anonymity. What they find is something that neither is
As Gwen rushes headlong into situations without a second
thought, Quinn tries to save her when she doesn't want
saving. It's perplexing to Quinn because he hates the
English—especially the aristocracy—and he can't understand
why he keeps getting tangled up with Gwen and her
He usually runs away from any trouble in his life. Has he
finally found something (and someone) he can't run away
Zana Bell has crafted a historical romance with rich
details of the New Zealand gold rush days. Add to that
quirky, but realistic characters who have their
moments—both heartbreaking and heartwarming—and you have a
story worth its weight in gold.
Love – is it worth its weight in gold?
It’s 1866 and the gold rush is on. Left to fend for
in the wilds of New Zealand’s west coast, Lady Guinevere
Stanhope is determined to do whatever it takes to rescue
ancestral home and restore her father’s good name.
Forced out of his native Ireland, Quinn O’Donnell dreams
striking gold. His fiercely held prejudices make him
to help any English person, let alone a lady as haughty
obstinate as Guinevere. But when a flash flood hits,
is compelled to rescue her, and their paths become
in this uncharted new world.
Though a most inconvenient attraction forms between them,
both remain determined to pursue their dreams, whatever
Will they realise in time that all that glitters is not
1866, West Coast Forests, New Zealand.
Guinevere scarcely dared breathe. The small cluster of
weka scratched amongst the leaves, gradually shifting
from the dark shadow of the trees to the sun-splashed
clearing. Go on she urged the flightless birds silently.
Another foot and I’ve got you.
A thread of perspiration ran down her face. It was
stifling under the black cloth but she was not to be
distracted now as the largest weka strayed into the late
afternoon sun, its mottled brown plumage glinting in the
Now see it.
He did. The wink of her grandmother’s locket caught his
attention and he went to inspect it. Ha! Guinevere felt a
surge of triumph. She’d heard weka could not resist
glittering objects. The locket was secured to a large
stone. That should hold his attention for a minute,
surely. Timing was essential, the wet plate would be
drying fast. Silently she slid out from under the shroud,
then, holding her breath, she removed the lens cap. The
almighty explosion shattered the silence and reverberated
around the mountains. The family fled in squawking alarm
while Guinevere stared dumbfounded at the weka now lying
headless in the grass.
Then she saw him, rifle held loosely in one hand, as he
sauntered across the clearing towards the weka – her
Those long, long hours of preparation and now all for
nothing. Fury, white hot and brighter than any magnesium
flash, ignited. Without pausing to think, Guinevere
erupted out of the bushes.
‘How dare you.’
The man spun on his heel, his rifle coming up in reflex.
‘You ruined my shot! I took hours setting it all up.’
He fell back a step, lowering his gun. ‘What the—?’
He was very tall, his shoulders broad. She couldn’t see
his face, covered as it was in beard and with his hat
pulled low. His clothes were battered and shabby. Dried
mud coated his boots and trouser cuffs. His shirtsleeves
were rolled up and his arms were as brown as a farm
labourer’s. Murderer. Bubbling rage engulfed her.
‘You bumbling idiot. Do you have any idea how much the
Royal Geographical Society would have paid for a
photograph like that? Well, do you?’
‘Photograph? Jaysus, woman! What the hell are you talking
about?’ His Irish voice was low and curt with
incredulity. At the same time there was something very
still, very watchful about him. He’d taken the bird in a
A cloud came over the sun and the shadows of the forest
all around them deepened, making Guinevere shiver. The
huge, jagged spine of snowcapped mountains seemed to lean
in, more forbidding than ever. She was suddenly conscious
that the two of them were all alone in this huge, untamed
land and that he had a gun. Then her family’s motto
flashed across her mind: courage jusqu’à la mort. Her
chin came up and she swept the branch aside to reveal the
tripod and black shroud.
‘Look, simpleton! I’ve been preparing this past hour for
the perfect shot and then, just as I was about to take
it, you had to go and ruin it all.’
His jaw clenched under the thick beard. ‘Simpleton
yourself! What man would ever expect to find some silly
English girl with a camera squatting under the bushes out
here, a day’s walk from the nearest town?’
A tiny voice of reason whispered that he had a point, but
in his tone was that dismissive note of male superiority
she’d come to hate over the past month.
‘How like a man to take one look at a family of birds and
immediately wish to annihilate it!’
‘What? Like the way the English annihilate Irish
families?’ His contempt seared. ‘I was hungry, dammit. A
lady like yourself wouldn’t know how that feels.’
‘Oh, wouldn’t I?’ She smiled grimly. ‘Why else would I be
squatting under a bush a day’s walk from anywhere?’
That seemed to give him pause for thought. He scratched
his neck, then pushed the brim of his hat back with the
barrel of his rifle.
Guinevere found herself looking up into cool grey eyes
that surveyed her with as much curiosity as hostility.
‘Where’s your husband?’
‘I’m not married.’
‘Your father or brother then?’
‘My father died two months ago.’ She glared, defying
sympathy. ‘Not that it is any of your business.’
They might be in the middle of the forest at the bottom
of the world, but she was not going to tolerate the
presumptuous behaviour of strange men. The Irishman,
however, continued unabashed in his impertinence.
‘What? So you are here all alone?’ Her silence answered
his question. ‘Oh, for the love of Jaysus, have you no
sense? You cannot be going about alone in this country.’
His gun made a sweeping motion towards the forest that
stretched impenetrably about them. ‘’Tis riddled with
adventurers and gold seekers. Finding a woman alone they
He broke off but she knew what he meant and her shoulders
stiffened though she couldn’t meet his eyes.
‘Cerberus will protect me. He won’t let anyone near,’ she
His lip curled. ‘Guardian of the underworld? And where is
this fine hound?’
‘Tied up at my camp.’
‘Let me guess. So as not to spoil your pretty picture?’
Her chin came up again. ‘Don’t you dare condescend to me
you, you …’ She searched for a suitable insult and his
brows drew together, his lips compressed as he waited for
it. ‘You man!’ She spat the word.
The man laughed, surprise and humour chasing away the
shadows in his face. ‘Yes, I’m a man. I’ve heard many
worse insults from English lips.’
He spoke without his previous curtness, but she’d had her
fill of men and was in no mood to acknowledge the lilt of
laughter in his deep voice. She tossed her head.
‘And now you’ll tell me that I’ve no business doing a
man’s work in a man’s country and that I should go back
to my needlework and be a good girl.’
Understanding dawned in his eyes and he smiled. ‘Been
meeting a bit of opposition here, have you?’
His smile was lopsided and very disarming.
‘A fair bit,’ she admitted and almost smiled back before
suspicion forestalled her. Now she was fatherless, every
man she met took it as his God-given right to tell her
what to do. Her eyes narrowed. ‘So are you going to start
He raised his hands, one still holding the gun, in
surrender. ‘Not I! I haven’t lived this long without
learning never to pick a fight I know I cannot be
It must have been the release of tension but this time
Guinevere couldn’t help smiling.
The man lowered his hands and said, ‘Look, as I ruined
your shot, the least I can do is share the bird with
you.’ Guinevere hesitated and the man’s eyes cooled
again. ‘That is, if an English lady like yourself will
accept the help of a common Irishman.’
‘Oh, don’t be ridiculous. It’s just that …’ Guinevere bit
her lip, not knowing how to continue.
The man seemed to realise what was troubling her. ‘I’m
sorry, I haven’t introduced myself. Quinn O’Donnell.’ He
extended his hand and gave her another lopsided smile.
‘Ready to cook you the best meal for miles around. But if
you’d rather not, say the word and I’ll be on my way and
not disturbing you again.’
She took his hand. It was lean, warm and calloused.
‘Pleased to meet you, Mr O’Donnell. I’m Guinevere
Stanhope and I freely admit I’m starving. I never thought
I’d be away from civilisation for so long and didn’t
bring nearly enough provisions.’
He released her hand and cocked his head. ‘Just how long
have you been out here?’
‘It’ll be my third night. I’d only expected to be out for
one but these weka proved more difficult to photograph
than I’d first imagined. They tend to only come out near
dusk so it’s been hard to get them in the sunlight.’
‘And then I came along to ruin it.’ The Irishman’s tone
was almost apologetic as he stooped to pick up the bird.
Then he spied her locket and squatted down. The sideways
look he cast her was amused, but also more attentive.
‘This here to attract the bird?’
She nodded, watching as his fingers deftly undid the lace
knotted around the stone. ‘I needed to keep him in the
sun and reasonably still for the exposure.’
‘Clever.’ He held out the locket to her and straightened,
lifting the bird as he did so. His movements were fluid
and economical. ‘Should I cook this here?’
He was giving her the opportunity to keep her camp
private. As Guinevere pocketed her locket, her thoughts
raced. Men intent on harm did not usually introduce
themselves, did they? She wasn’t very conversant with the
ways of robbers and rapists – another gap in her
upbringing and education. New Zealand, she was
discovering, was most adept in presenting her with
hitherto unknown situations.
She looked at Mr O’Donnell. He stood quietly, not rushing
her. Was that sympathy in his eyes for her predicament?
There was a wary stillness about him but deep down she
felt she could trust him. Her instincts were all she had
to go on these days, and she made her decision.
‘No, I’m camped just up the river and I’d like to get
back to Cerberus. He’s been tied up for hours. I’ll lead
the way but must get my equipment first. There’ll be no
photographs today. The plate will have dried by now and
that was the last of the light.’
The Irishman watched as she took several minutes
dismantling her equipment.
‘Sorry for spoiling your shot.’ He sounded genuinely
remorseful. ‘Must’ve taken some time setting it all up.’
She glanced up and smiled. ‘You weren’t to know I was
there. Sorry for attacking you. My temper is my besetting
sin – well, one of them at any rate. There, I’m ready.’
‘Fine, I’ll be carrying that for you,’ he said, stepping
forward but she forestalled him with a shake of her head.
‘Oh, no! My father always taught me that only a
photographer has any business carrying a camera. I never
let anyone touch my equipment. Besides,’ she added
candidly, ‘I’d rather carry it than a dead bird.’
‘I’ll just get my clobber, then.’
He strode back to a tree where he stooped to swing a
battered pack onto his back and she noted the wide
shallow pan strapped to the outside. Definitely a miner.
The hotelier had told her that the area had been in the
grip of madness since the first sighting of gold a year
earlier, with men pouring into it from all over the
When Mr O’Donnell came back towards her, he nodded and
wordlessly she turned to lead the way. As she threaded
through the foliage, bushes snagged the skirts of her
dark green riding habit, which she twitched impatiently
to free herself. Was it her imagination or did she feel
his eyes following her movements? Had she made a mistake
in encouraging friendliness?
She kept her voice steady as she said, ‘It’s just around
this rock. Oh, there’s Cerberus now.’
She took some comfort in the volley of barks and growls
that greeted their arrival. Cerberus, large and ungainly,
was straining at the rope that tethered him to a tree and
she went immediately to free him. Though she felt she
could trust Mr O’Donnell, it didn’t hurt to have her
faithful hound at her side. The dog was clearly unhappy
at having a stranger in the camp and as soon as the last
knot was untied, he leapt at the interloper.
‘Cerberus!’ she shouted.
The dog paused in his assault but continued to snarl, lip
curled back from long teeth. The Irishman, having held
his ground, now proffered an open palm which Cerberus
sniffed and considered. The growling ceased and the tail
began wagging. Quinn stroked the dog’s head, whereupon
the dog promptly rolled on his back so that Quinn might
scratch his stomach too. Using the toe of his boot to rub
the spot Cerberus wanted, Quinn looked up at his
‘Well now, ’tis relieved I am, ma’am, to know you have
this hell hound to protect you. Where did you find him?’
Hands on hips, torn between amusement and exasperation,
Guinevere had to laugh. ‘Hopeless animal! On the wharf at
Hokitika. He just adopted me – followed me everywhere.’
‘Given encouragement no doubt. And the … er … horse? ’Tis
a horse, I take it.’ He gestured to her mount, tethered
to nearby bushes.
‘Pegasus? Yes, I think so, though judging from his
temperament there must be mule in there too.’
‘Pegasus, is it?’ His tone was distinctly ironic as he
eyed the horse with its knobbed back, knock-knees and
moth-eaten pelt. ‘Was he also on the wharf?’
‘Not exactly,’ Guinevere said evasively. The Irishman’s
eyebrow rose and feeling slightly goaded, she added, ‘He
was in the knacker’s yard, if you must know.’ The man’s
continuing silence reinforced her defensiveness. ‘He was
looking at me with beseeching eyes and I simply couldn’t
let him die. You’d have felt the same!’
Mr O’Donnell shook his head. ‘Oh no, I’m not one to be
held hostage by a pair of eyes, no matter how beseeching.
Besides, a woman alone shouldn’t be burdening herself
with a pack of useless animals.’
‘They are not useless!’ she declared, then saw his
sceptical glance at her horse. ‘Well, Pegasus was perhaps
a bit of a mistake,’ she conceded, ‘but Cerberus wasn’t.
Why, only last week he bit the most provoking bank
manager I have ever met in my life.’
The corner of his mouth lifted. ‘And just how many bank
managers have you met, might I ask?’
She felt herself flush but remained defiant. ‘Well, only
one, but that was still one too many!’
He forbore making further comment, though she saw
amusement glimmer in his eyes before he turned to look
around her camp. No, she had nothing to fear from him,
she decided. Yet he was a strange man, alternately grim
then amused. She wasn’t sure which was more infuriating.
They were standing quite close together now and she saw a
scar curled up from his cheekbone to the corner of his
left eye. His nose was slightly angled as though it had
been broken and not set quite straight. His smoke-grey
eyes were surprisingly light in contrast to his tanned
skin, his gaze intent. He had the Celts’ brooding
intensity and a strong, somewhat autocratic face above
his beard. Arthurian, she thought fancifully, with a hint
of Viking about the cheekbones. He’d make a marvellous
study for a photograph.
‘An unusual set-up you have here,’ he remarked and as he
glanced down, he caught her scrutinising him. Again he
went uncannily still, his eyes unreadable.
Feeling self-conscious, Guinevere spoke quickly. ‘I know.
Now, can I get you a knife or plate?’
‘No, don’t trouble yourself. I have it all right here.’
To her relief, he let the moment pass and swung his pack
down onto the ground. It was little more than a blanket
rolled about a few belongings, amongst which were a sharp
knife and a large tin plate.
‘You just relax,’ he told her as he tossed his hat to one
side and, picking up the bird, made his way to the
river’s edge where he set about plucking it.
Relieved that her assistance was not required for this
grisly task, Guinevere tucked her equipment away in the
tent, then sat on a nearby log and watched his quick
fingers at work. His hair was dark, thick, straight and
rather long. It, like his beard, must measure the number
of weeks he’d been up here in the mountains, panning for
gold. Did he ever get lonely, too?
Mr O’Donnell was like no man of her acquaintance.
Squatting on his haunches, he seemed completely at home
in the forest, yet he was clearly conversant with Greek
mythology. He was swift to take offence over the
strangest things, but he was also quick to laugh. Did
this indicate a passionate nature? Yet there was that
untouchable stillness about him. Was it only the siren
song of gold that had drawn this man to these vast, empty
Quinn too was curious as his fingers tore at the
feathers. What in the hell did she think she was playing
at, camped here all alone at the bottom of the world?
Quinn shook his head at himself. What in the hell did he
think he was playing at, cooking for an Englishwoman who,
to judge by her manner of speaking, was clearly of the
class he most loathed? It had been over five years since
he’d sworn never to tug a forelock at the English ever
again. Even now, that damnable English imperiousness he
detected in her voice set his teeth on edge. And yet …
He stole a glance at her now and saw her hand go to her
head. At the time she’d been too furious to notice her
hair half tumble from its pins as she’d launched like a
spitting wild cat from the bushes. He smiled inwardly at
the memory. Then she’d seen his gun and though fear had
flashed in her brown eyes, her chin had jerked up.
Her dress was the same dark green as the forest, and the
white oval of her face stood out in contrast, with its
striking cheekbones and wide eyes. She was not beautiful,
but there was something delicate yet strong about her –
like a tree sprite. This absurd thought made him shake
his head at himself again. He remembered how she’d
twitched her skirt free from the bushes and in one long
slash he sliced open the belly of the weka. It had been
far too long since he’d been with a woman.
She gasped at the sight of blood, then laughed as though
embarrassed by her shock. ‘You look like you’ve done that
He threw the entrails to Cerberus who wolfed them down.
‘I grew up on a farm and ’twas my job to prepare the
birds for the family when I was a child. I hated it then,
but it’s proved handy over the years.’
He found it hard not to pause to watch the feminine,
almost intimate gestures of the English girl as she wound
her abundant hair back up into a knot, which she then
skewered into place. It pleased him that one lock had
escaped her notice, falling untamed down her back.
‘I never learned anything half so useful when I was
young. Which part of Ireland are you from?’
‘Cork,’ he said. ‘Have you been to Ireland?’
She shook her head. ‘No. I’d never been out of England
until Father decided to come to New Zealand.’
‘And why did he come?’ asked Quinn, pausing for a second
to look at her.
‘To photograph the moa. Have you heard of it, Mr
He frowned. ‘What, that bird that looks like an overgrown
She nodded, leaning forward eagerly, her forearms on her
knees. ‘Yes, that’s it. Some grow to over nine feet tall,
‘Grew, you mean,’ he corrected her. ‘Sure, but it’s
extinct now. The Maori ate them all, long ago.’
‘There’s no proof of that! There have been recent
sightings, you know.’
Quinn shook his head. ‘By men either bored or witless
from going too many days without civilisation. ’Tis a
wild-goose chase you are on.’
‘Oh, you can scoff, but my father was certain it still
exists. A photograph of one would be worth a fortune;
both financially and scientifically.’
‘Is that a fact? And just how much would it be worth?’
Quinn neatly split the bird into smaller cuts that would
cook quicker over the fire.
She sat back, her voice less confident now, though she
was clearly not going to back down. Of course she
wouldn’t. She was bloody English.
‘Well, I’m not exactly sure, but Father was convinced it
would be a considerable sum.’
Quinn began piling twigs to make a fire and Guinevere
passed him some from around her feet. ‘Ah, so your
father’s interest was more financial than scientific?’
Her manner assumed a touch of ice. ‘That,’ she said for
the second time in their brief acquaintance, ‘is none of
Quinn struck the match with more force than strictly
necessary to control his sudden flare of fury – arrogant,
hoity-toity that she was! He wished suddenly that he
hadn’t taken pity on her. Irish had no business feeding
the English – even in the middle of nowhere. But as he
grimly blew on the flame to fan it, she added, ‘I’m
sorry, I prefer not to talk of my father, although I
intend continuing with his work. Surely you can
Damnable female. He didn’t like the way she could pull
that lady-of-the-manor act and he didn’t like the way she
could disconcert him by promptly dropping it. She didn’t
wait for him to reply though, as she changed the subject.
‘And why are you in New Zealand, Mr O’Donnell?’
The way she asked the question with genuine interest, the
walls of the forest might have melted away and they could
have been in some fancy house sipping tea and he not a
servant but a valued guest. He rocked back on his heels
and looked at her. ‘The gold.’
‘And you say I’m on a wild-goose chase!’
He bristled, then saw teasing gold lights in her eyes.
‘True,’ he acknowledged with a slow smile. ‘’Tis a hard
call to say which of us is the greater fool.’
She laughed but almost immediately fell silent, staring
into the flames.
Quinn noted the anxious frown between her eyes and felt
an unexpected twinge of guilt. ‘I’m probably wrong,’ he
said as he skewered the weka onto a stick. ‘’Tis a huge
country and the forests are very deep. There is every
chance there are still some of those birdies about.’
‘Yes,’ she said as she prodded the fire, but her bright
tone sounded forced. ‘Yes indeed!’
She watched in silence as he fashioned a makeshift spit
out of stout sticks. When the meat was cooking over the
flames, Quinn relaxed back against a tree. ‘And what
photographs have you taken thus far in New Zealand, Miss
The girl began talking of some of the sights she had
photographed since her arrival in Hokitika a few weeks
earlier. Quinn knew the town well, for it offered miners
respite from the loneliness of the mountains and many
diverse ways of losing all their hard-won gold. Like all
ports and gold-mining towns, it was a rough and rowdy
place and he wondered what the locals had made of this
slip of a girl setting up her tripod in the main street.
He wouldn’t have thought there was anything worth
photographing, but it was clear she had a different way
of looking at things – in all sorts of ways. Animation
lit her face as she described her shots and the
developing processes, revealing a passion surprisingly
deep for an Englishwoman.
Quinn watched the small, vivid face under its weight of
hair and as he listened to her lively explanations, he
realised, with surprise, that he was experiencing an
almost forgotten emotion – contentment. The forest about
them darkened and the smell of roasting bird spiralled
with the white smoke. When he rose to add another branch
to the fire and turn the spit, Guinevere’s stomach
rumbled. She blushed.
‘Oh, I do beg your pardon, Mr O’Donnell.’
Even as she spoke the words his own stomach complained
loudly and they both laughed.
‘We’ll have some water. That’ll take the edge off,’ Quinn
said, and went to the river where he filled their cups.
‘Thank you,’ she said, accepting her tin mug from him.
‘Have you noticed how delicious the water is here?’
‘I have. You can’t beat water straight down from the
snow,’ he said, indicating with a jerk of his chin the
mountain peaks which glowed ghostly against the black
night. ‘Plus the constant topping up from the rain, of
‘Isn’t it amazing just how much it rains? I don’t think
I’ve ever been anywhere that’s as wet as New Zealand.’
‘That’s because we’re on the West Coast. The east has far
less rain,’ Quinn told her. ‘Fewer impossibly dense
forests and fewer sandflies,’ he added with feeling as he
slapped at the tiny insects that were the bane of all new
‘Fewer moa also, I suppose.’
The corner of his mouth lifted. ‘I fear so. Not so much
gold around Christchurch either come to that.’
She heaved a theatrical sigh and leaned forward to stir
the flames. ‘Then we are stuck here, are we not, Mr
‘’Twould seem so.’ He watched the glow of the flames warm
her face, catching the lights in her eyes and suddenly
this did not seem quite such a hardship. As she looked
up, their looks tangled. Somewhere nearby, an owl hooted.
‘Right! Let’s see if that bird is ready now.’ He knew
he’d sounded abrupt.
Guinevere turned away as though the fire was suddenly too
hot and said, ‘I do hope so. I’m famished.’
The slight tension dissolved as they devoured the weka
and Quinn was surprised at how much a little thing like
her could put away.
‘That was heaven,’ said Guinevere at last, licking her
fingers and leaning back against a log with a satiated
sigh, while he washed his knife and plate and rolled up
his pack again. ‘Mr O’Donnell, that was the best meal
I’ve ever eaten.’
‘’Tis just hunger.’ He laughed dismissively but was
‘Oh, no, it is not! I was very hungry last night too but
I still noticed the bread was stale and the cheese
She was clearly not used to or prepared for the outdoors.
Well, she wouldn’t be, would she? Her camp was crude.
There was a strange black tent, but she had also strung
up a fly, which was not set right and couldn’t have
stopped much of the morning dew. Some bracken had been
piled up but it looked ragged and uninviting, even to a
man used to sleeping on the hard ground. Worst of all,
she didn’t understand the country she was in.
‘You mustn’t be sleeping here tonight, Miss Stanhope,’ he
He didn’t heed her tone. ‘No. ’Tis coming on to rain.’
She looked purposefully up at the clear, star-studded
Still he did not pay sufficient attention to the
underlying edge. ‘These rivers come up to a flood quick
as a flash and this morning I saw a dam on the upper
reaches of this river – not much is holding it up, just a
fallen tree and some bushes. ’Twon’t take much to
dislodge them and then all the waters will be pouring
down and you’ll be swept away.’
She looked at the wide but shallow river flowing over the
stones in the light of the half moon. ‘Hmm.’
‘Best move you up onto higher ground. I’ll camp nearby to
see you are safe.’
She tilted her head and looked at him down the length of
her small, straight nose. ‘Thank you, Mr O’Donnell, but
it simply isn’t necessary or possible. I cannot move my
equipment at night. That tent there is the mobile
darkroom that my father designed. It’s one of a kind and
irreplaceable. What if it should get damaged in the dark?
And if I should stumble when carrying the plates or
camera, they would break because they are very fragile.’
‘They’ll be a lot more broken if the flood comes.’
‘What makes you so sure it will rain?’
He hesitated for the night was clear. ‘There’s a smell
when rain is about to come.’
‘I cannot detect anything beyond the usual smells of the
He was tempted to tell her that was because she was a
pampered young woman, raised in a big house where maids
shut the windows at the first hint of rain. However, he
was reluctant to destroy the amicable feeling that had
grown between them.
‘You haven’t had any experience,’ he said, then tried to
placate. ‘’Tis not your fault. I’ve just done more of
this sort of thing. Your life has been sheltered and you
wouldn’t know …’ he faltered as he saw quite another type
of storm gathering in her face. ‘If you’d just listen to
reason,’ he added, reasonably enough.
Her eyes flashed gold in the firelight. ‘Listen to
reason! If you only knew how much I loathe that
expression and loathe the men who have applied it to me
these past two months since my father died. “Lady
Guinevere, you cannot remain alone in New Zealand, listen
to reason. You cannot seek the moa alone, listen to
reason. Go home and find a nice husband, listen to
reason!” It’s eighteen hundred and sixty six for goodness
sake, not the Dark Ages! I’ve had my fill of men telling
me what to do and where to go and I refuse to have some
man laying down the law to me in the middle of nowhere.’
Quinn’s own temper ignited. Hell, she was a real lady.
The English were bad; the aristocracy even worse. No
wonder she was such a haughty little piece. He rose,
damned if he was going to stay for any more insults. ‘I
can see you’re quite beyond reasoning with—’ he began
with dignity, but she cut in.
‘You aren’t reasoning with me, you’re telling me!’
‘I’m trying to help you for your own good, woman.’
‘That’s what all men say. It’s quite insufferable.’
‘Well, I’ll be on my way then.’ Quinn knew he sounded
like an aggrieved child, but Guinevere was just as bad.
‘That’s fine. I can manage perfectly well on my own,
Quinn swung his pack on his back and glowered down at
her. She glowered back. ‘In that case, m’lady,’ he said,
larding the word with contempt, ‘I’ll wish you a good
He gave a little bow that mocked and saw with pleasure
her flinch before he turned and disappeared into the
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