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No Room for Regret

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The movement of the ship seals his fate. He could be sailing anywhere, anytime, but he’s not, he’s going to the other side of the world.
He could be anyone, but he’s not, he’s the son of a respectable London businessman. His crime? An error of judgement.
In England, in 1812, there is no forgiveness.
As the ship sails, eighteen-year-old James Tedder’s seven-year sentence to Van Diemen’s Land begins.

Rescuing her eldest son from slave traders in Rio de Janeiro is the most difficult thing Sarah Blay has done in the last two years.
Leaving England, her life, her mother, to follow her convict husband James to the other side of the world not knowing if he lives, pales in comparison.

Will lives rebuild? Will love survive?

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About the author

Janeen Ann O'Connell

14 books12 followers
I live in a suburb of Melbourne with my husband and our little poodle, Teddy.
Since retiring from secondary teaching, I've been able to indulge in my dream to write.

As a vegetarian (almost vegan) I am passionate about animal welfare, and support Animals Australia, and Edgars Mission (Victoria, Australia).

I believe in life-long learning, and since leaving work, have completed a Diploma of Family History, am five eighths of the way through a Graduate Diploma of Creative Writing, and am always doing short courses in the craft of writing.

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5 stars
64 (46%)
4 stars
53 (38%)
3 stars
19 (13%)
2 stars
1 (<1%)
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Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews
Profile Image for Clemens Schoonderwoert.
1,052 reviews77 followers
May 3, 2019
This marvellous book has been my first experience with this very fine Australian lady author, and I have to say, what an amazing voyage this life-story has been to me.
At the beginning of the book you'll be presented with a very informative Author's Note, telling you about her book, the records consulted and how it all came about, with also a heartfelt quote: To Nowhere, With No-One, With Nothing, and not to forget the author's Family Tree, and that Tree will play the significant part in this fantastic historical story, while at the end of the book you'll find also some important Notes.
Storytelling is of a superb quality, all (real) characters come vividly to life in this tremendous historical life-story, and the storyline is very entertaining from start to finish.
The book starts with a chilling description about the brutal and horrific conditions on the hulk "Retribution" in 1811, where the convicts were confined, before being transported in 1812 on the vessel "Indefatigable" to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), on which these helpless convicts must somehow seem to survive if they were to reach their new destination.
This book sets off in February, 1811, and it will end in 1823, and in this period the live-stories of James Tedder and James Blay, and also later on very importantly James Bryan Cullen, start to unfold into a most remarkable, beautiful but also very brutal human historical life adventure, during the reigns of the British Kings, the insane George III and George IV.
From the hulk "Retribution", under devastating circumstances where Tedder and Blay are treated like animals, and after that the transportation on "Indefatigable" to Van Diemen's Land, where they are both used as convict slaves, they will eventually overcome their ordeal and horrors and start a (Tedder) family or reunite (Blay) as a family.
And so what will follow is a compelling and enthralling family history in which both James Bryan Cullen, who's married to Elizabeth Bartlett, and James Tedder, who's married to Cullen's middle daughter Catherine, will have to deal with hard work, happiness, sadness, debts and life threats, before they finally die and will become the roots of a Family Tree, of which their offspring will become their future branches with families of their own, and with lives with all its ups and downs.
Very much recommended, for this book has touched my heart immensely, and I look very much forward to read the next instalment, but to come back to this story I like to call it: "A Truly Amazing Heart-Rending Opening Read"!

* Thank you to the author/publisher for this reading copy, in exchange for an unbiased and honest review!*
Profile Image for Brenda.
3,972 reviews2,585 followers
June 19, 2018

James Tedder was only eighteen years of age when he was sentenced to seven years transportation to Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land in 1811. He despaired of ever seeing his family again. The journey on the Indefatigable was horrendous; the slops they were fed; the cruelty of the guards – Tedder wondered if he would even survive the journey.

James Blay was another such convict who was sure he would never see his wife and their three boys again. It was the friendship between Blay and Tedder that made it feel a little less lonely for the unlucky pair. But the merciless treatment meted out during the sea voyage, and even once they had arrived in Hobart Town, continued.

Would Blay and Tedder be consigned to kind men? Or would they have to serve their sentences on the chain gang? Tedder knew he wouldn’t survive if it was the latter…

No Room For Regret is a dramatic tale of what actually happened to the poor souls who were sentenced to transportation for minor discrepancies. The Indefatigable and her human cargo was the first convict ship sent directly to Hobart Town, although there were many convicts already settled there. Aussie author Janeen Ann O’Connell has researched the time and conditions diligently, and though there are editing issues (and I didn't like the ending!), this heartfelt historical novel, which is based on fact, is a great read. Recommended.
Profile Image for Janeen O'Connell.
Author 14 books12 followers
July 21, 2019
I can't review my own book, so here is a review from one of my "beta" readers. She is in the UK so her Amazon review doesn't appear.

Sooo.... (drum roll)... I feel like I've made new friends, been on a ship, been forced to the other side of the world and much much more!!
I love the characters, love how it moves between their stories and is written so eloquently. I especially love the smells!!! You should be so proud!! If I had more time on my hands I would've finished it in one weekend.. it's amazing!!
Explains so much about the English/ Irish culture and stratification of society at that time too and feels so authentic that it leads organically into an explanation of the formulation of Australian culture.
The touches of history, distances, really bring the story to life and make you invest even more.
I absolutely loved it.

Profile Image for Michael Sahd.
Author 2 books156 followers
October 10, 2019
This book is difficult for me to rate. I definitely enjoyed it at times, but then I found that I was exasperated by it at others. It's listed as a historical fiction and it definitely qualifies, but it is most certainly a romance novel as well.

I had no idea that I was reading a romance until toward the end, although the clues were there. Not that this is a huge issue, as I've read some romances before and they were perfectly fine reads. Just not my cup of tea.

But the real issue for me was this: When introduced to the protagonists, Blay and Tedder, I was struck by their incredibly unfortunate story of being sentenced and then sent to Van Diemen's Land to serve the rest of their lives, or so it seems. They're in chains, they're starving, they're struggling, they're being whipped, and they're just generally miserable. How will they escape this misery? I wondered excitedly.

In the most boring way ever. That's how. Shortly after they get off the ship, the story turned south for me. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoyed it. I kept reading. I wanted to know more. O'Connell did an excellent job. But! But a normalcy set in that rankled me.

Keep in mind that I don't want to give away spoilers. Throughout the latter half of the book, the characters would experience a conflict within their normal, boring lives, and it would be resolved within a few pages. No cliff hangers. Each chapter ended on a happy, "everything is going to be all right, and I'm sure glad I was arrested and sent here" note. It certainly became tedious.

UNTIL THE END! The book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, just enough to drag you into the next book in the series. Will I read it? Maybe. A big maybe.

The character I'm most interested is William Blay, one of the children of the Blay who heads the story. I'm not going to say why, but he has a little adventure that intrigues me a lot.

Next, I want to say that Tedder's story of how he got arrested really resounded with me, and I was incredibly disappointed with the way the author handled him. The poor man got the short end of the stick.

All in all, it was an excellent read. It kept my attention despite the normalcy near the end, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Australia and/or romance stories.

I'm giving it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. I was given this book for an honest review.
Profile Image for Michele Northwood.
Author 4 books33 followers
January 11, 2021
No room for regret: by Janeen Ann O'Connell

I really enjoy books with a good story where I´m learning something at the same time and this book really fit the bill.
The story follows two men who are banished to the other side of the world for committing crimes, neither of which (in my opinion) merited the harsh sentence that they both received. One is banished for life and the other for seven years.
Both men are housed on a boat which is harboured in London for several months before they are finally taken to Australia. One of the overseers takes an instant dislike to one of the men and even when they land in Australia his malicious intent and intimidation continue. The story follows the men’s lives as convicts in Australia from when they first land on those shores and later as free men living there.
The characters are well defined, the story flows well, and I wanted both men to thrive in Australia despite their sketchy pasts.
It is more than apparent that the author has done her homework and thoroughly researched this period of history. There are snippets of information throughout the book regarding the prison ships, the conditions both onboard and in Australia, and even a current photograph of one of the houses that plays a prominent part within the book. All these snippets really brought the book alive for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading part two.
158 reviews8 followers
July 20, 2019
Great start but felt a bit rushed and crowded towards the end

I really enjoyed this book for the most part. The initial pace was steady in its telling of experiences through the eyes of English men, who were condemned to Van Diemen Land for several years (or life) as punishment; and through the eyes of the wife and children to one of those men, who bravely followed her husband to keep the family together. A little more than halfway through, though, I felt the storyline became too crowded with additional characters and events in rapid succession. I lost my intimate connection with the first primary characters, which for me was disappointing. Character development waned, replaced with abrupt appearances and exits. As I continued into the second book, I grew weary of juggling all the people and details and chose not to finish. I think this book, and perhaps the series in general, would have been much better had the focus remained centred, rather than scattered in so many directions.
Profile Image for A.J. Griffiths-Jones.
Author 23 books68 followers
September 2, 2021
Meet the three James’s, Tedder, Blay & Cullen, all arrived aboard convict ships from London, albeit one of them two decades earlier, bound for a life sentence in Van Diemen’s Land. From the stinking hold to the unfamiliar streets & chain gangs, the author paints us a superbly realistic picture with research links for those who wish to explore further. This is a saga & I can’t wait for part two, a drama of grand proportions that is executed extremely well.
1 review
February 18, 2018
I just loved it. Great characters, very exciting and believable story. Your descriptions made me feel like I was there with the families. I also liked the facts/info at the start/end of each chapter. The outcomes for the people was surprising! The whole story flowed beautifully. Well done! I will wait patiently for the next installment.
February 19, 2018
I just couldn’t put this book down. I just loved it. Great characters, a very exciting and unforgettable story. The facts and information that you included at the start and end of each chapter was very welcomed. Im so glad that Sarah decided to make the long journey to join her husband. A great read! Looking forward to the next book 👍🏽
September 2, 2019
Very engaging story.

Adored the characters and loved seeing them triumph through impossible times and felt the palpable sadness at seeing them struggle.

Ann O'Connell's use of unique language and phrases amused me and kept me enthralled.

Loved it! Will be following up with the sequel.
Profile Image for Berk Rourke.
378 reviews
April 30, 2019
The author of No Room for Regret took on a historic period, filled it with wonderful characters, and did a marvelous job of creating an epoch followed by many more books. This is the first telling the story of convicts sent to Australia and New Zealand for punishment after committing crimes in England. The tales of the transport ships, the cruelty of some of the guards on the ships or on land, and the growth of a dynasty of economically successful people is amazing, epochal. It easily earns a five star review with no reservations.
Profile Image for Lisa.
310 reviews6 followers
March 23, 2019
Amazing historical fiction read. I loved the characters and story line.
417 reviews
July 24, 2019
Very good

In this historical novel, the story of convicts deported to Australia is told. It tells of human kindness made even more palpable when portrayed next to human cruelty. It is a well written and engaging story.
Profile Image for Sara Avrams.
280 reviews3 followers
April 25, 2019

A good bit of history with a touching story to tell it by. Perhaps a bit romanticized,but still well worth reading.
Profile Image for Nicole.
1 review3 followers
April 24, 2019
I still can't believe this work is based on true story! You can tell O'Connell has sweated years of family history research into this book. Full disclosure: I am the proud Local History Librarian at the author's public library and I'm SO thrilled to have a talented and generous author and researcher in the community.
12 reviews
December 31, 2022
An Eye Opening Story

Although brutal at times about the treatment meted out to “convicts” who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land, it is testament to the convicts'/settlers' courage & fortitude which captured my attention and admiration. A story well told. I look forward to the next stage in this absorbing story.
Profile Image for Nancy.
933 reviews27 followers
August 17, 2022
The story takes place in the early 1800's when England was sentencing criminals with no mercy. Murder meant hanging, but even small crimes due to bad judgement or poverty were dealt with harshly. Being found guilty (even based on one person lying) meant prison or "choosing" to be exported to Australia.
So we find James Blay and James Tedder in prison and then on a convict ship for 6 months to get from England to Australia. Needless to say, conditions are horrible and inhumane, and yet they make it there alive. Convicts are placed under the supervision of landowners and storekeepers who were once convicts themselves. Most are treated well and many earn their freedom after serving their sentences. Those who break the rules are put on chain gangs and don't fare so well. But Blay and Tedder are not true criminals and are pleasantly surprised to find their lives actually improved in unexpected ways.

I found the story really interesting, as I only knew a little of this history. I am a little more critical of the writing style. It seemed to me to be very simplistic, maybe geared to a YA audience. There is sex and some violence, but it is basically a family saga. The author did a lot of genealogical research into her own family history and came up with this.
One other point of interest for me was reading this book and The Last Mrs. Summers at the same time. Both books, although taking place 100 years apart, have major female characters who were taken advantage of sexually by their employers, the man of the house where they worked as servants. And now, 100 years after that, it is still happening! Will things ever improve?
28 reviews1 follower
May 6, 2019
A look into the past

This is well written, interesting and thought provoking. The first half had a lot of detail that was lost by the last quarter of the book. The last was mostly reporting the facts and not really fleshing out the Story as our had earlier on.
Profile Image for ChillwithabookAWARD With.
433 reviews13 followers
May 15, 2018
No Room For Regret by Janeen Ann O'Connell has received a Chill with a Book Readers' Award.

"Very well researched and the descriptions of life as a transported convict were quite graphic."

"The portrayal of the people and the hardships they faced are well described, and I certainly could place myself in the story. "

Pauline Barclay
Founder of Chill with a Book Awards
Profile Image for Joseph Carro.
Author 4 books8 followers
June 25, 2019
With "No Room For Regret", author Janeen Ann O’Connell has crafted a personal take on the trials and tribulations of James Tedder and his mate James Blay – two young men who are exiled from London, England in 1811 and sentenced to work in Van Diemen’s Land – an unforgiving penal colony located in what is now present day Tasmania. Separated from their families and ostracised from their friends, the men try to navigate the complex politics and new way of life presented to them once they land on Tasmania’s shores.

Though the story is centered on the two James’, the women in their lives also take center stage. No Room For Regret is the first book in the Cullen-Bartlett Dynasty series, and fans of historical fiction should find plenty to sink their teeth into. Though O’Connell takes some liberties in order to construct a compelling tale around the lives of the people involved, it’s clear that she’s done her homework and the historical details pop through the page. Indeed, you will find family trees and photographs of locations within the book to reference when needed.

The world in which James Tedder and James Blay find themselves inhabiting is at once full of hope and naive gumption but is also full of routine violence, unfettered avarice, and keen desire – and all the best and worst traits of the human species as a whole. O’Connell breathes life into these two characters and their supporting cast and leaves you wondering about them long after the book has been read, while at the same time setting up an introduction to book two in the series – "Love, Lies, And Legacies".

Profile Image for Christine Weald.
93 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2022
“The movement of the ship seals his fate. He could be sailing anywhere, anytime, but he’s not, he’s going to the other side of the world.
He could be anyone, but he’s not, he’s the son of a respectable London businessman. His crime? An error of judgement.”

I enjoyed reading this book but had mixed feeling about its historical content. It was well written with plenty of historical notes in the beginning but then it seemed to be too good to be true. I’ve read a few other Australian convict tales and this just seemed to have a sugar coating, and turned into a romantic story. Not that that was all that disappointing, but made me wonder if the classification was correct. Obviously the author had researched this family so they were ,to some extent, one of the luckier convicts.

There are plenty of thrills and excitement to begin with. The author picked up on the good points with the British governor’s handling of those convicts that had been convicted of minor crimes, as well as some of the cruelty others suffered. But I believe the hardships most convicts experienced was glossed over to some extent.

This is one of a series and the young William Blay one of the sons of the main character would appear to have a good story in him. Keep a lookout in this series.

Profile Image for Debbie Tremel.
Author 2 books10 followers
November 4, 2021
4 Star Story, 2 Star Writing

In many ways this is a good story about an interesting time. I learned a lot and enjoyed the characters. But a good book means the writing shouldn't be a distraction, and there was plenty that distracted me. First, the insert of computer historical information just brought the story to a halt. If the author had written it as a narration, then at least it could have addressed the events that were currently happening. There was also poor regard for timing. It was often vague how much time had passed or the outright inconsistency of having the wife sailing to join them long before she could have received the letter from her husband, so the two concurrent timelines were not in sync.vThe first of the book had good pacing and direction, but by the end it was mostly a genealogical accounting of the families. Add to this numerous abrupt or awkward transitions, and the story became hard to immerse in. It's really too bad since the story has much potential- it just needs a good editor. Sadly the abrupt end did not compel me to pursue the rest of the series.
281 reviews3 followers
December 26, 2019
Room for regret

I did enjoy the story a lot, until the story ended on a sour note in the middle. I try to avoid series unless it says is a standalone story. Obviously this one missed the mark. I will not be following up on these characters.
90 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2019
Good read about Australia

This book is backed up with careful research cited as part of the narration . That characerization is cliche with a predictable plot.
465 reviews1 follower
July 10, 2022
3.5 stars. Good story, needed better proofreading.
Profile Image for Isobel Blackthorn.
Author 59 books164 followers
July 3, 2019
Opening No Room for Regret the reader is grabbed by the collar and thrust into the worlds of twin protagonists James Tedder and James Blay as they are both arrested, charged and transported as convicts to Hobart Town, Tasmania, Australia. Tedder leaves behind his family of origin; Blay leaves his wife, Sarah, and their three sons. After a terrible voyage lasting many months, the men arrive and face some early tribulations, but then both find good fortune in securing positions away from the chain gangs. Tedder works in the stores and Blay for a former convict, James Cullen, on his farm in New Norfolk. What unfolds as these two men serve their sentences is a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale of families intertwining, of convicts gaining their freedom and adjusting to life in a new and strange world filled with curious animals and birds. It is a tale of resilience, survival and common humanity. There are a few antagonists along the way to keep up the tension and the drama, including the despicable Toothless, a convict guard out on a lifelong vendetta to harm Tedder.

Filled with charming characters and well-crafted descriptions, this story flows at a good clip. Above all, O'Connell provides a rich historical overview of the early settlement of Australia, prefacing her chapters with snippets of factual information which add important insights into the plight of the convicts and renders No Room for Regret both entertaining and educational.

The perennial challenge for historical and especially family history novels is grabbing readers from the outset and keeping them absorbed. O'Connell manages both with aplomb, the narration taut and gripping and laced with uncompromising realism. The result is a compelling read that is impossible to put down. No Room for Regret is a fictionalised family history novel of the highest calibre. 
Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews

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