Part one begins in the late 19th Century with 12 year old urchin Jim and his sister Abbie, who make a living selling bits and bobs in the street to earn their keep a home. Then Jim is falsely accused of stealing a gold watch he is charged and sent to Australia, to the recently founded boys' penal settlement on Point Peur! Will Abbie ever see him again? Slowly she learns to fend for herself, and luckily finds work as a downstairs maid, through one of the ladies her mother sews for. Abbie is now 15, honest, and eager to take on any duty. She soon settles in with the other maids, and, like her mother is a talented needlewoman. She is soon making gowns for the young ladies of the house. Things finally seem to be on the up and when Edward, the new junior footman arrives, he and Abbie fall in love, and become engaged. Abbie seems finally to have shrugged off the past. But then Jim arrives home and Abbie is shocked by his scruffy gaunt appearance and lack of social graces. Jim's experience in Australia has clearly marked him for life. He seems angry and off the rails. When he seduces Abbie's friend, Sarah, and then marries her, Abbie fears for them.
Jim is moody and unreliable and he drinks too much. Then, leaving his wife with three children to look after, Jim disappears back to Australia where he feels he can make a new life and erase the memory of the crime he never committed all those years ago. But what will become of him, and Abbie? Will news of her brothers' disgrace effect her reputation and her burgeoning career as a seamstress? Will Jim ever return to see his children..
Rosemary Hayes is a children's writer and publisher, with over 20 titles for children in print. Primarily published by Penguin in Australia, but also in the UK, four of her books have been shortlisted for awards. Her most recent teen novel is Blood Ties, though she is published extensively on the young Puffin Bites series. She originally worked for Cambridge University Press and then founded her own company, Anglia Young Books, which she has recently sold. She is also a consultant on writing for children and runs creative writing workshops in schools.