Saturday, February 2, 2013

Savage Possession by Margaret Tanner: Guest Post, Excerpt



by Margaret Tanner

In colonial Australia the families of ex-convicts and poor Irish immigrants were often on the receiving end of an unfair English justice system, which favored the rich and powerful.

Against this background, Ned Kelly, his brother Dan and their friends Steve Hart and Joe Byrne formed a gang and became bushrangers (outlaws). They were hated by the authorities but revered and aided by many ordinary folk who thought Ned Kelly had been persecuted and forced into crime.

On the 26th October 1878 at Stringybark Creek, the Kelly gang shot and killed three police troopers and wounded a fourth, when the police set a trap for them. After this there was a price on Ned Kelly’s head.

Desperate to catch the bushrangers the government of the time revived a medieval law that had been obsolete in England for centuries.  They called it the Felon’s Apprehension Act of 1878.

This Act enabled the Kelly gang to be proclaimed as outlaws.  It was one of the most serious laws parliament could evoke.  It authorized any person to shoot the proclaimed dead like wild beasts, without demand for surrender, or any process of arrest or trial.

 On the ninth of December 1878, the Kelly gang came out of hiding in the ranges to hold up the bank in Euroa, their first public appearance since the Stringybark Creek murders.  They made their way to a sheep station on the Faithful Creek to spend the night, having first locked up the manager and his men in the storeroom.  The next day after a hearty meal they rode away.

On the day of the tenth, at the exact time the Licensing Court was in session and the town's only policeman otherwise occupied, the Kelly gang robbed the bank. They got away with more than nineteen hundred pounds as well as thirty or so ounces of gold.  After a siege at the Glenrowan hotel, Ned was finally captured. Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were killed when the hotel was set alight.

Ned Kelly was subsequently put on trial, found guilty and hanged in what is now known as the Old Melbourne Jail.

The Old Melbourne Jail is now a tourist attraction and is open to the public and what a spooky place it is even in daylight.  Ned Kelly’s death mask is out on display and the scaffold still stands with the rope swinging over the trapdoor.


My latest novel, Savage Possession is set against this background.


Margaret Tanner is a multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically accurate. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty, or cemetery too overgrown. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia.

As part of her research she has visited the World War 1 battlefields in France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience.

Margaret is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG) and EPIC.  She won the 2007 and 2009 Author of the Year at Her novel Frontier Wife won the Best Historical Romance Novel at the 2010 Readers Favorite Award, and another novel, Wild Oats was a 2011 Finalist in the EPIC awards.

A sweeping tale of love's triumph over tragedy and treachery in frontier Australia.

A mistaken identity opens the door for Martin Mulvaney to take his revenge on the granddaughter of his mortal enemy.

An old Scottish feud, a love that should never have happened, and a series of extraordinary coincidences traps two lovers in a family vendetta that threatens to destroy their love, if not their lives.

 A  Hot, Steamy, Graphic Romance (over 17)

Australia - North Eastern Victoria 1870’s.

Alistair was in trouble. With the unexplained but powerful connection she had with her twin, fear coursed through Beth’s body. She drew in a shuddering breath and tried to still her trembling hands by twisting an escaped tendril of hair from her plait. How many warnings did her brother need before he stopped consorting with outlaws?
       Standing in the doorway of their homestead, she squinted into the distance. A horseman galloped towards her. With a hammering heart she waited. Was it friend or foe? Should she dash inside and grab grandfather’s gun?
The rider drew near and she recognized Alistair. Running to the track snaking towards the side paddock, she struggled to lower the slip rails so the horse could pass through.
“Quick, Beth!” He leapt from the saddle. “Get the mare out of sight.” 
“What happened?”  Dread clawed at her throat with cruel fingers. Her stomach knotted up. What had her brother been up to now?
Without a word, he raced towards the homestead.
Her hand trembled as she picked up the trailing rein and led the sweating, foam flecked mare into the barn. Something terrible must have happened. One of their best horses ridden to the point of exhaustion. She unsaddled the mare and turned her loose before sprinting back to their bark-roofed, slab hut.
  Rushing to the kitchen, she found him stuffing a sack with bags of flour, salt and sugar.
Frantically, she grabbed his arm. “What’s wrong?”
Pale and agitated, he stared out the window. “I have to get out of here. The police troopers are after me.”
“The police? You’re in trouble with the law?”   
 After he filled the sack he dropped it on the floor and paced up and down, banging a fist against his open hand.
“Martin Mulvaney caught me with Dan Kelly and one of the gang. We found a palomino colt. I’d just put my spare halter on him when Mulvaney and one of his men rode up. I stayed so the others could get away.”
“You fool. Grandfather warned you about the Kellys.” She picked up the corner of her apron and twisted it into a knot. “The Magistrate swore out a warrant for them after they wounded Constable Fitzpatrick.”
“They were framed, Ned wasn’t even there. They arrested Mrs. Kelly and one of the girls.”
“What did Mulvaney say?”
“He looked like the devil mounted on a huge black stallion. When I told him my name he threatened to report me to the police for horse stealing. He’ll be out to get me now.”
“You found the colt, didn’t you?”  She gnawed her lower lip. “It’s his word against yours.”
“One of his workmen saw what happened. It’s two against one. I don’t stand a chance. I’ll head for the ranges and join up with the Kelly gang.”
“Stay away from them. They’re wanted men.” A reckless fire blazed in his blue eyes. “I’ll ride over to Mulvaney’s place and tell him you found the horse, try to reason with him.”
“You think that bastard would listen?   Better for me to clear out.”
“No.” Her hands trembled so much she hid them behind her back. Facing up to Martin Mulvaney would be her worst nightmare. “Go to the mountain hut and wait. If you don’t hear from me by tomorrow lunch time, you’d better hide out for a while.”
The thought of Alistair in jail, manacled like a wild beast, dangling from the gallows even, gave her the courage to face their grandfather’s mortal enemy. A man who had helped decimate their family. “Help me saddle Belle. If I go straight away, I should be back here before dark.”
“No!” His voice shook with agitation, his eyes darkened with worry. “You can’t go there alone, it’s too dangerous. Grandfather warned us never to go anywhere near the place.”
“He’ll be away for weeks and won’t find out if we don’t tell him. Ride to Riley's Corner with me if you like then head for the mountains.”
“I should be horsewhipped for this.”
Alistair disappeared into the bedroom and returned with their grandfather’s pistol stuck in his belt.
“No.” Her hands flew to her face in horror. “Don’t be foolish.”
His demeanor changed from concerned to belligerent. “I need to defend myself.”
“Leave the gun or you’ll get no help from me. If the troopers catch you…” She shuddered, thinking about the dire consequences of such rashness. “They’ll kill you without a second thought.”
He hesitated for a moment, growled a swear word and banged the gun down on the table.
Tearing off her apron, she dragged on a jacket, buttoning it quickly over her white, high-necked blouse.
She had never met Martin Mulvaney even though his property was only a few miles away from theirs. He socialized in much more exalted circles. His amorous affairs scandalized some in the community, but the depravity of his father tainted the Mulvaney name and earned him fearful respect. Would he show mercy to anyone named Campbell?  Hatred and bitterness between her grandfather and the Mulvaneys had festered for years, but she would front the devil to save Alistair.
She patted her hair into place. To keep the fine strands tidy she coiled the long plait into a bun and secured it with pins at the back of her head. How idiotic worrying about hair at a time of crisis.
She rushed outside to find Alistair waiting with their horses. He helped her mount. A cold autumn wind gusted in from the brooding, distant mountains. Clouds hung dark and heavy, ready to split open and drop their watery load.
Mulvaney’s castle, so called because of its large size and the two round corner towers at the front, was rumoured to be haunted. She shivered and snuggled into her jacket to ward off the physical chill, but nothing could melt the dread icing up her heart. By the time they arrived at Riley's Corner, the rain pelted down, cold, relentless.
“Grandfather would be furious if he knew I let you go over there alone.” Alistair edged his horse closer to hers.
She leaned across and kissed his cheek. Inwardly quaking with fear, she fought against letting him know. “I’ll be all right.”
If she hadn’t been so desperate to save him from Martin Mulvaney’s vengeance, she would have turned tail and galloped back to the safe warmth of home.
“Go on.” She slapped his horse’s rump, and waited until he disappeared into the scrub before continuing on alone.
Riding along the Mulvaney boundary, she diverted her trepidation by comparing the new fences and fat, contented sheep grazing on well cared for pastures, to their own rundown property. She tried to build up a picture of Martin from grandfather’s description of him. Spawn of the devil he would say. Dread almost overwhelmed her, but she had to push on regardless. Alistair’s freedom depended on it. Maybe even his life.

Enter for a chance to win a Free PDF download of Savage Possession. 2 WINNERS.


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Laurie,
Thank you so much for inviting me to visit here with you.

Best wishes


Cheryl Wright said...

I always love reading your posts, Margaret. They are so informative! Thanks for sharing!!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Cheryl,
Thanks for dropping by, I appreciate it.



Louise Reynolds said...

Hi Margaret,
Your lovely stories are always so well researched. Thanks for bringing us historical stories of Australia's past.

Lia K said...

Hi Margaret, thanks for sharing about our Aussie 'hero', Ned Kelly. You always tell such great stories.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Louise,
Thanks for dropping by, I appreciate it.



Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Lia,
Thanks for dropping by.



Michelle Somers said...

Hi Margaret

I loved reading your blog - especially loved the info about Ned Kelly.

You're an amazing wealth of knowledge and I always manage to learn something new from you!


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for dropping by and for the accolades, I really appreciate it.



Serena Tatti Story Editor said...

Hi Margaret,
I love reading your blogs (and your books!) I enjoyed reading about Ned Kelly—very topical at the moment given he's just been given a proper burial after all these years.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Serena,
Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it. Yes, at the moment it is very topical. I just hope that they will let the poor man rest in peace now.



Bethie said...

Thanks for the giveaway


I love to read romantic books