Cover Image: Dangerous Women

Dangerous Women

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First time author Hope Adams has a real winner in her debut historical fiction/mystery novel, Dangerous Women. This book is set in 1841 and follows the fates of 180 women who are being transported on the boat, Rajah, from jails in England to Van Diemen’s Land, which is present day Tasmania.
	The trip takes 15 weeks and is told through the eyes of 3 or 4 main characters, as they recount the trip, as well as a stabbing assault that takes place upon the boat during this crossing. The book begins with the assault and then chapters go back and forth (titled conveniently as Then or Now), telling tales on how and why some of the ladies got to be part of the prisoner transport, as well as trying to solve the stabbing before arriving at Hobart.
	What ties so much of this together is a sewing group that Matron Kezia Hayter establishes from Day One. The group is sewing a quilt that will be presented to the Governor of Van Diemen’s Land upon their arrival, and it is through this group of ladies that the stories unfold. None who are transported are supposed to have been convicted of murder, and yet one of these ladies has slipped through onto the Rajah. We can also sympathize with many of these convicts since their life situations placed them in a position that they had to commit criminal acts just to survive.
	In addition to the ladies, the book also follows Matron Hayter, the ship’s captain Charles Ferguson, along with the ships physician and priest. These male characters come to the fore during the investigation as to the stabbing, while the victim lies in a coma. Was the attacker one of the ladies of the sewing group, one of the other convicts, or could it have been one of the sailors? 
	Throughout the book we get to view Matron Hayter as the rock that all these ladies rely upon, and we see the changes brought about due to the sewing circle and Hayter’s belief in forgiveness and compassion. 	
	But first and foremost this is a compelling mystery, all wrapped around a group of lady convicts who are headed to an unknown future in a land they know nothing about. How could someone get ahold of a knife, what drove that person to the attack, and how can such an incident be solved when every woman on the boat is a convict which can lead to many suspects and also many lies and denials of acts on board.
	History plays a main focus in this book, as the author has blended historical characters with a group of fictional ladies. There are dangerous women living in cramped quarters for 15 weeks. Nerves fray, alliances form, and love blooms in this fast paced, well written novel. This is a great page-turner that I finished in two days.
	Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a free Advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. This review was first posted at mysteryandsuspense.com
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Dangerous Women by Hope Adams Historical fiction based on the 1841 voyage of the convict ship Rajah and the three month journey that transported 180 women convicts from England to Australia. The large amount of characters introduced caused confusion simply because they all seemed to blend together and the narrative was repetitive.  The mystery was secondary and didn't move the story along.   The most interesting feature of the story was the history of the  Rajah quilt.    

Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.
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Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this book. I'll be posting my review on Goodreads and Amazon
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After finishing this heartbreaking, moving, thought provoking novel which truly shakes you to the core, only thing on my mind is going to National Gallery of Australia for seeing the giant quilt created by these women hanging on the wall. 

The book is created based on true stories of 180 women who were convicted mostly from petty crimes and released from prison to set sailed to Rajah/ Tasmania: a historical vessel for starting a new life. There are also 10 children on the board. And in this fiction version one of the women is murderer because there is attempted murder mystery added into story : one of the women was stabbed. 

  But this book’s genre is closer to women’s fiction/ historical fiction than thriller and mystery genres. There are such great, realistic portraits of women who were reluctantly found themselves in criminal world and they did what they had to do for surviving. The circumstances pushed them make wrong choices. They were just the unlucky women who were dealt with the shittiest hands. It was so easy to resonate with those flawed, heartbroken, tired characters who deserve second chances. You can feel their miseries, anger, sadness, resentments, fears. The author did a great job to combine different women stories harmoniously. 

I read so many articles to define the fiction and  real life events of this journey. Royal Navy Surgeon James Donovan and minister Rev. Roland Davies were truly on the for sailing to Rajah in 1841 as it is mentioned on the book. Kezia Hayter, 23 years old is also based on true character, who accompanied the women through their journey. 

It was one of the heartbreaking, well researched, intriguing historical fiction with soul crushing real life women stories! It’s touchy, poignant, truly well written which deserves my four Australian, true story, sad, powerful stars! 

Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
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I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a very compelling and complex story. Set in 1941, women are setting sail to Australia. These women are prisoners and their crimes vary. Their stories are intriguing and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it.
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My soul and spirit were touched by this historical fiction story of woman, who were not so much dangerous as they were lost. This is the story of 180 English women who were transported to what is now Tasmania in 1841. They were transported because they had committed crimes ranging from petty theft to prostitution, to burglary or deception. While transport ripped them from the family and life they had known in England, it also gave them the hope of starting over in a new place. 

Much of this story is true. The author vividly describes the sailing of the real ship the Rajah, with its lower hold filled with the women and 10 children. Royal Navy Surgeon James Donovan, and a minister Rev. Roland Davies actually sailed on the Rajah in April, 1841. The most fascinating character was also based on a real person. Twenty-three-year-old Kezia Hayter, a “female of superior attainment” did accompany the convicts as their matron. Many documents about the voyage still remain including the Surgeon’s Log, Captains log, and records of the convicts names and crime.

All of this true information was fascinating to me, and from the recorded history of the journey of the Rajah, Author Adams has created a beautiful story of hope, endurance and faithfulness. Kezia Hayter planned to have a small group of the women create a beautiful quilt during their 3 month journey on board the ship to Tasmania. She prayed that this would be a way to have the ladies create something together, something that would transform and bless them as they worked together to make small pieces of ordinary cloth into something incredible, just as each woman herself could become part of something better. This part of the book is also true and the quilt still remains at the National Gallery of Australia. (The author changed the names of the needle workers to protect their descendants.)

The book also features a mystery, when a woman is stabbed on board the ship. Is there a killer among the women? This part of the story is fiction, and it is very well done. This mystery enables readers to get to know many of the characters, their back stories and motivations, fears and hope. There are many women characters and each one is well-crafted and fascinating. 

I was deeply moved by the women, their quilt, their stories and by life aboard the transport ship. My only hesitation with the story is that it was told in Now and Then timelines which was a bit confusing. But the soul and nature of this book shines through and truly creates a meaningful and engaging story about an unusual time in history. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkeley for an advance digital review copy. This is my honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley and Berkeley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
I always enjoy reading historical facts that reads like fiction, which you will find in this novel. 
I found the beginning to be a slow start for me and it took me a few days up picking up and reading past the first couple of chapters.  Once I got to the "meat" of the book, I found the story line was very enjoyable and much easier to read.
The author takes us back to the year 1841. The story revolves around a true historical event. Approximately, 200 English women, who have been convicted for mostly petty crimes are released from their cells. The government places them on the real-life historical vessel named the “Rajah,” which will take them to Australia to start a new life. Adams does a good job showing us how many of the women were forced into a criminal life for survival. She also nails the dialogue/emotions between her characters on the ship with their bickering, their fears, and sometimes their kindness to one another. On their voyage, they create a real-life giant quilt, which now hangs in the National Gallery of Australia. The author explains that she has seen this Rajah Quilt and it was her inspiration to write this novel. The women received the quilt’s materials from the Ladies Society of England who were promoting the reformation of female prisoners. On the ship, there is a real-life character from this society who organizes the project. In the novel as well as in actuality she ends up marrying the captain—very sweet. The author surely did her research homework. Through the making of the quilt, we feel the women’s sorrows as well as their hopes, while enjoying their newfound friendships
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Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery and Thrillers
Publisher: Berkley
Pub. Date: February 16, 2021

Mini-Review

Let me start off by saying the Adams mixes the genres in this one. This is not the best nor the worst historical fiction that I have read. I always enjoy reading historical facts that reads like fiction, which you will find in this novel. The author takes us back to the year 1841.  The story revolves around a true historical event.  Approximately, 200 English women, who have been convicted for mostly petty crimes are released from their cells. The government places them on the real-life historical vessel named the “Rajah,” which will take them to Australia to start a new life. Adams does a good job showing us how many of the women were forced into a criminal life for survival.  She also nails the dialogue/emotions between her characters on the ship with their bickering, their fears, and sometimes their kindness to one another. On their voyage, they create a real-life giant quilt, which now hangs in the National Gallery of Australia. The author explains that she has seen this Rajah Quilt and it was her inspiration to write this novel. The women received the quilt’s materials from the Ladies Society of England who were promoting the reformation of female prisoners.  On the ship, there is a real-life character from this society who organizes the project. In the novel as well as in actuality she ends up marrying the captain—very sweet. The author surely did her research homework. Through the making of the quilt, we feel the women’s sorrows as well as their hopes, while enjoying their newfound friendships. I found all of this captivating.  Getting back to the mixing of the genres, at the beginning of the book, on the ship, a young mother is killed.  This subplot stays with us throughout the entire story.  I did not think it was necessary and actually took away from the story rather than enhancing it. I kept skimming the murder mystery scenes to get back to the fascinating, old-fashioned, straight historical fiction. If the story stayed in that mode and didn’t throw in a “whodunit,” I would have enjoyed “Dangerous Women” so much more than I did. 


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200 women condemned. They are put on a trip to Australia. One of them is a murderer. They are all suspects.. This novel is about confinement, hope, and the things we do to survive. I really enjoyed this book. The writing was beautiful, and the storyline was amazing! This is a classic whodunit with a lot of historical fiction. This is a great read and comes highly recommended!
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Dangerous Women failed to fulfill my expectations. In my opinion, it was much too long, laborious to read and repetitive and redundant. However, I applaud the people who worked so hard, to bring 180 convicted women, across the world on the Rajah, from London to Australia, enabling them to start new lives in a new land. Therefore, 3 stars. Thank you NetGalley and Berkeley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
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I really enjoyed reading the historical fiction novel Dangerous Women by debut author Hope Adams. I was drawn to this book by the premise of a shipload of English female prisoners who were being essentially banished to a remote island near Australia. During the voyage one of the women is murdered and since the other passengers are already convicts, they become obvious suspects. It sounded like a compelling and creepy premise to me, and I was not disappointed.

There were a lot of characters to keep straight, but I really loved our matron, Kezia Hayter, as well as some of the women prisoners who were more clearly defined. A big part of the story centered on the communal sewing project the inmates were working on under Kezia's watch. She, along with the British Ladies Society created the project to teach the women a new skill and occupy their time with productive work as a means of reform. Although many of the prisoners' "crimes" were minor and necessary for survival, such as stealing food for their starving children, they were still sentenced to fairly long prison terms. Their project, the Rajah Quilt, was named after the ship on which they sailed and is still displayed in the National Gallery of Australia.

The book was a bit of a "whodunit" mystery as each of the murder suspects was interviewed by the ship's captain and his colleagues. From the beginning we learn that one of the prisoners is sailing under a false identity, which adds to the mystery. I did solve the murder before the solution was revealed, which is not always easy for me. The conclusion was satisfying but a little abrupt.

I appreciated the author's note at the end explaining which plot points were based on fact and which she embellished as fiction. My favorite part of historical fiction is learning a bit of history, and this novel highlighted a piece of history that I had not heard about before, namely that this voyage really did take place in 1841 and the Rajah Quilt has a fascinating history.

Readers who enjoy solid historical fiction, women's fiction and historical mysteries will enjoy this exciting novel.

Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I found the premise interesting but the cast of characters did nothing to grab or hold my attention and I had a hard time keeping who was who straight. Everyone just kind of blended together. This would be a great book for fans of historical fiction and mysteries, but wasn't the best fit for me personally
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This is a well-written and compelling historicization of an actual trip made by women convicted of crimes in England and transported to Australia, with a good solid murder mystery thrown in. The author does a good job of describing the difficulties of life for women at the time and how gendered laws and social conventions frequently forced them into crimes both small and large in order to survive. The account of women sewing on board made me look up the real quilt that was made--it is stunning. All in all, a good historical mystery.
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In the mid nineteenth century, if you were convicted of a crime in England, you could be sent to prison, or you could be transported to a penal colony on Australia. Pickpockets were sentenced along with murderers and rapists. In 1841, 180 English women are placed on upon the Rajah where they begin a three month journey to Australia. Some of the women are guilty of nothing more than stealing a potato to feed a starving child, at least one has a much darker secret. As the journey commences, the women jockey for position, try to find a way to survive in this brutal new world. And when one of them is killed during the journey, it’s up to the others to avenge her death. This book is an incredible read, demonstrating the strength of women and what they will do to protect their own. The world needs all the dangerous women we can find these days
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