A couple of these were actually recent purchases from Bookcloseouts, but they fit the subject and I figured I'd add them to the pile.
The books look even more appealing when you see the covers, so here they are below.
This is a huge trade paperback, 550pp long. Belinda Alexandra is an Australian historical novelist who has set her novels all over the world. I'd call them romantic epics. Tuscan Rose centers on a young woman living in Florence, Italy, in the 1930s and '40s, who is compelled to uncover her true identity at a time when Fascism takes hold of her country. HarperCollins Australia, 2010.
An unlikely love story unfolds in the gold rush settlement of Arrowtown in 19th-century New Zealand, as a young Chinese woman named Ming Yuet disguises herself as a miner. Penguin New Zealand, 2008.
This is another gold rush-era romantic story set in Old Ballarat, a mining boomtown near Melbourne. I won't reveal more of the storyline, because this is 3rd in a series after Kitty and Amber, tales of strong women during the early days of Australia and New Zealand. HarperCollins New Zealand, 2010.
I just love this cover design. The tagline says: "A daring heroine tests her wits against secrets, spies, and smugglers on a remote Australian island." Mary Watson was a real person from 1879 Queensland, an adventure-seeking woman who left behind a few brief diary entries hinting at her fate. This literary fiction novel picks up where those fragments leave off. 4th Estate, 2011.
This compact little novel (311pp but dense in terms of weight) tells the historically-based story of the migrations from Nova Scotia to Australia in 1817, and the colony's subsequent settlement in New Zealand in 1854, under the leadership of Norman McLeod. Kidman tells the story from the viewpoint of three generations of women, whose stories date from 1812 to 1953. Vintage New Zealand, 1988.
This is one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen anywhere, and it's on a book I'd been looking to buy for over a year. Fiona McIntosh is best known as a fantasy writer, and this is her first installment of a family saga based on her the history of her ancestors. It begins at the end of the Great War. "From the windswept clifftops of the Cornish coast to the goldmines of southern India, this is a page turning story of high adventure, devastating tragedy and enduring love." Penguin Australia, this edition 2011.
And here is the back cover, which is just as spectacular.
I first read about La Rochelle's Road at Cat's blog Tell Me a Story; she's a NZ blogger who specializes in historical fiction. In 1866, Hester Peterson discovers the journal of a past resident of her family's home - Etienne La Rochelle, who caused a scandal by taking a Maori lover. What she learns sets her on a dangerous path of beauty, darkness, and illicit love. Black Swan (NZ), 2011.
Now which one should I read first?