The Blurb (from Goodreads):
From the high seas to the deep seabed, from the latticed verandahs of Buccaneer Bay to the gambling dens in Asia Place, The Pearler's Wife is a stunning debut, inspired by a small yet pivotal moment in Australian history. A distant land. A dangerous husband. A forbidden love. It is 1912, and Maisie Porter stands on the deck of the SS Oceanic as England fades from view. Her destination is Buccaneer Bay in Australia's far north-west. Her purpose: marriage to her cousin Maitland, a wealthy pearling magnate - and a man she has never met. Also on board is William Cooper, the Royal Navy's top man. Following a directive from the Australian government, he and eleven other 'white' divers have been hired to replace the predominantly Asian pearling crews. However, Maitland and his fellow merchants have no intention of employing the costly Englishmen for long ... Maisie arrives in her new country to a surprisingly cool reception. Already confused by her hastily arranged marriage, she is shocked at Maitland's callous behaviour towards her - while finding herself increasingly drawn to the intriguing Cooper. But Maisie's new husband is harbouring secrets - deadly secrets. And when Cooper and the divers sail out to harvest the pearl shell, they are in great danger - and not just from the unpredictable and perilous ocean ...
An assured debut by author Roxane Dhand, The Pearler’s Wife is a sweeping romance set in a little-known corner of Australian history, the pearling industry in the far north of Western Australia. The heroine, nineteen-year-old Maisie, is sent to Australia from England to marry a man she has never met. Her new home is called Buccaneer Bay, which sounds like something out of a pirate novel but is in fact a real place (the Buccaneer Archipelago was named after the English buccaneer and privateer William Dampier, who charted the area in 1688).
Maisie’s new husband is a cruel and ruthless man who treats his employees with reckless disregard. Lonely and bored, Maisie finds herself drawn to a British diver named William Cooper. The sensual tension between them, and the slow realisation of dangerous secrets hidden by her husband, add slow-burning suspense to the narrative. The claustrophobic setting of a small pearling town in 1912 is superbly evoked, and the story is full of action, drama and romance, making it perfect escape reading for a long, hot summer.
You might also like to read my review of The English Wife by Lauren Willig: