May I introduce: Tea Cooper "Lily's Leap"

Lily's Leap
by Téa Cooper
It's an absolute delight to have another Australian author visiting today. Please give Tea Cooper a big welcome!

1 – You’re described as “Escape’s Queen of Australian historical romance”. What would you say to someone like me, who’s hesitant about reading historical romance, to give it a try?

It’s the bodice ripper tag! Romance might get slammed but historical romance is even worse! All those bare chested, breeches clad … it’s Fabio’s fault. Add to that hours of boring history lessons at school and no wonder people are hesitant. One of the reviewers for Matilda’s Freedom said “I was never much interested in this period of history after a very boring time in school until … much to my amazement they gave the book five stars!
No matter when a book is set, the human condition, the emotions don’t change. In my current WIP the heroine is duped, tricked, falls for a scam. I realised she would feel the same way as someone today caught by an Internet scam or on an online dating website.
Also the dreaded information dump flourished in historical fiction for years and put everyone off. Paragraph after paragraph included, just to prove the author has done their research. That’s long gone. There are so many brilliant historical writers out there today writing stories set in every corner of the world, Jeannie Lin is my current favourite. I’m toying with the idea of the Maharaja and his Bonza Bride (And yes! The word bonza has been used since the 1800s – I just checked.)
My advice to anyone is the same as with any other book—if the blurb attracts you, forget the time in which it is set and give it a go. There are no time restraints on empathy.
May I add a disclaimer? While I was hugely flattered by the tag I think I’m the only person who writes Australian romance for Escape!

2 – We know you spend a lot of time at your local museum, but how much research goes into getting the background to a historical romance?
A lot and it is something you should only do if you enjoy it. I’ve decided I’m a researchaholic. You know that feeling when you have moved house and finally get around to unpacking the very last boxes? The ones with the bits and pieces in that you wrapped in newspaper because you ran out of nice clean, white butchers’ paper. You get halfway through and an item in the paper catches your eye. It might be an advertisement, a photograph or an article but you get so caught up in it the unpacking is forgotten. That’s me. Then I have to discover the next link in the chain—and the next. The internet has made it so much easier but there is nothing quite like a day in a museum or Mitchell Library seeped in the past and turning the pages of an original manuscript (with white gloves, of course).    

3 – You live in a “stone cottage on one hundred acres of bush land, just outside the time-warp village of Wollombi”. What makes life in the bush special to you?

Apart rom the space, the freedom and the silence one of my greatest pleasures is walking through my “back garden” convinced I might be the first person to ever pass that way or sit on a certain rock. In the bush you can feel the history of the land and smell the stories. I wake up to this every morning—I can’t imagine trading it in for a garden fence!    

4 – Tell us about your current project.    

I have two. I’m bolting to the finish line of a rural historical romance called The Stud Master. It all started when I discovered that Archer, who won the first two Melbourne Cup Races in the 1860s, came from the Hunter Valley. There’s a rural (not urban) myth that he walked all the way to Flemington to compete. It’s been disproved but it caught my imagination. Fortunately I write fiction! And the second project is still in the research stage, working title The Adventures of Miss Abigail Wynter. It’s going to be a series. Abigail is a genealogist in a museum—no prizes for guessing how that idea came about!

Thanks for letting me loose on you blog! - Anytime. Loved your answers, IB

From Escape's Queen of Australian historical romance comes a story about a privileged member of Australian's squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.

Born into the rough, but privileged society of the Australian colonial landowners, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and, much to her distress, back under her father’s thumb, all before her twenty-first birthday. Determined not to forgo her dream of breeding the perfect racehorse, Lilibeth ignores propriety and sets out to restore the family’s flagging fortunes.

When Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven horse stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. All they have to do is hold her for seven days. How hard can it be to control the pampered daughter of a colonial upstart?


Téa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the time-warp village of Wollombi, NSW Australia. When she isn't writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who provide her with a never-ending source of inspiration.

Personal Links:


Purchase Links:
Harlequin Escapeéa-cooper



Hunter Valley, Australia 1848

Lilibeth Dungarven’s cry of pure pleasure soared skywards as the massive black stallion rose to clear the fallen tree, sending the horrors of the last four years scuttling into the dirt of the ancient land.

Clenching her knees against Nero’s heaving flanks she bent low, ducking the overhanging branches framing the bush track, her cheek pressed to the warmth of his muscular neck. When the erratic pounding in her chest settled she drew Nero to a shuddering halt and pushed the damp curls back from her forehead.

A pair of black cockatoos, disturbed by her madcap gallop, shrieked their annoyance and resettled in the whispering casuarina trees. The crack of their beaks as they threw the mangled nuts to the ground filled the silence. Below her the ribbon of sandstone road weaved its way towards Payne’s Crossing and she shielded her eyes from the sun, searching for her mob of horses.

A glint of reflected sunlight drew her eye to a mounted figure in the middle of the road. Despite the hat pulled low shadowing his face, the stockwhip crack of his words registered deep in her belly.

‘Bail up! Guns down and off the horses.’

‘What do you think you...?’ Constricted by the tension in her throat her words petered out. No one would dare steal such a valuable mob of horses. They were branded. Everyone in the colony knew the Dungarven brand. To lose them was unthinkable. Years of breeding — the first pure Dungarven bloodlines. Months proving herself capable of managing the sale and the trip to Sydney. And now a hold up! It would not happen. Not if Lilibeth Dungarven had any say in the matter.


  1. A great interview, Tea, and a wonderful excerpt from your novel, Lily's Leap. Beautiful cover, too! Sometime, I'd like to see a photo of your stone cottage with all the acreage--the bushland I read about in The Protea Boys.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Linda. I agree, I'd love to see a photo as well.

  2. Thanks for dropping in, Linda! I think if you snooping on my FB page you'll find a pic or two of the "ranch". It's pretty random!