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Sentenced to death for a simple confidence trick, Mary Jebb escapes the gallows … but her reprieve is harsh: seven years in the unforgiving penal colony of Botany Bay.

Yet Mary is determined not to be forgotten, sending two pennies, engraved with a promise, to the two men who sealed her fate.

Timid artist Grace Moore jumps at the opportunity to marry handsome gentleman Michael Croxon – happy if only to get away from her drunken father.

But when Grace takes on a new cook, the two penny heart love tokens reveal she is tied to a world she didn’t know existed … A world of deceit, double-crossing, revenge and murder.


An exciting novel in the Gothic tradition.
The Lady Magazine
An ingenious exercise in pastiche gothic, this is a richly rewarding read.
The Sunday Times
Bailey has created such vivid and believable characters that I felt entirely gripped by every strand of the story.
Juliet West, author of <i>Before the Fall</i>
Following an excellent debut must be tough - but Bailey has made it look easy with this polished, sophisticated work. From the first page, I sensed this novel was going to be even better than her first and my confidence was not misplaced.
The Bookbag
I really can't recommend this novel highly enough. I loved it from start to finish.
S D Sykes, author of PLAGUE LAND
It all comes down to a thrilling battle of wits and nerve - I literally could not put the book down for the last quarter.
Laura Purcell, author of <i>The Queen of Bedlam</i> and <i>Mistress of the Court</i>
Martine Bailey has invented her own niche - gothic horror meeting culinary thriller - and THE PENNY HEART is her second helping... There is much to admire in this sprawling tale of lies, secrets and puddings. Bailey's prose sparkles.
The Times
Peppered with recipes - many of which I suggest you do not try - this gripping drama is atmospheric, with enough intrigue to keep you engaged.
The Sunderland Echo
The mystery is cleverly written and I went from being gently guided along and thinking maybe really nothing much was happening, to whoah, hold on, I wasn't expecting this! I loved the book and felt quite bereft on finishing it.
BeadyJans Books
The mystery, at the heart of the novel is complex, both dark and deliciously dirty in places and just so wonderfully contrived and maintained that I really was kept guessing throughout the whole of the story.
Jaffareadstoo blogspot
THE PENNY HEART is a compelling and haunting story, brimming with malice and darkness, and powerfully alive to the harsh realities of 18th century life, but it also an invigorating account of the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of terrible hardship.
Lancashire Evening Post