'Anne Bedo is unhappily married. Her husband, Elias, is an abusive drunk who cruelly mistreats her, and she decides she can't take it any more. While traveling by ship, Anne decides to make her escape. Making it appear as though she has gone mad and thrown herself overboard, she instead disembarks in disguise with her friend, the Aboriginal youth Kombo. Anne and Kombo venture through dangerous, unexplored country, braving the murderous tribes and cannibals, as she seeks to put distance between herself and her persecutor. During her travels, she meets up with Danish explorer Eric Hansen, and together, they make an astonishing discovery. Deep in the Australian wilderness lives a tribe of "Red Men," the Aca, part of the ancient Mayan race. Can Anne, Eric, and Kombo survive the myriad threats posed by savage cannibals, the Aca's "Death-Stone," and the vengeance of Elias Bedo? A "lost race" adventure novel in the tradition of H. Rider Haggard, Rosa Praed's "Fugitive Anne" (1902) also confronts important issues of the day, including colonialism and the difficulties faced by women trapped in bad marriages.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Valancourt edition).
The British romantic novel became a distinct and bestselling genre during the mid-nineteenth century, when Charlotte M. Yonge’s The Heir of Redclyffe (1853) inspired other authors to write thrilling love stories published in triple-decker volumes that were sold at W.H. Smith railway bookstalls or circulated through 'Charles Mudie’s Select Library (Anderson 1974, p. 25). Women writers during this time, such as Yonge, Rhoda Broughton and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, popularised stories that featured the trials and tribulations of British heroes and heroines who fall in love, overcome various obstacles to their relationship, marry or are tragically parted by death (Anderson 1974). Most of their novels are set in Britain or, for more exotic fare, the Continent. However, from the 1890s onwards, they were joined by women writers from Britain’s colonies and dominions. This period was the zenith of British imperial power and, unsurprisingly, women writers used the colonies as exotic backdrops for their love stories. Romantic novels from the 1890s to the Second World War spread imperial fantasies of women who travelled to the colonies, hunted, worked as governesses, nurses and secretaries, managed households, ran viable plantations, fended off attacks by ‘the natives’, fell in love, married and made a place for themselves in the empire. Dreams of love and empire building bloomed in what I am calling women’s imperial romantic novels: love stories set in India, the white settler colonies and dominions, and Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.' (Publication summary)