It took me a couple of days to read this book, not because I didn’t like it, rather because there is a lot to take in. The author makes the Caribbean islands sound so beautiful and perfect. It made me want to visit St. Thomas and Tortola during the 1800s, instead on a cruise ship with the equivalent of 5 times the populations of this timeframe. The food, the weather, the water, the trades were all so well described and accurate. The author must have spent a lot of time doing extensive research to make sure she captured the essence of the Caribbean perfectly.
If you have ever visited the Caribbean you know there are islands with associations from the colonist times. Martinique with the French, The British Virgin Islands, St. Martin is half French and half Dutch, Jamaica to the British and so on. This mini European invasion allows the author the freedom to have many cultures mix within the story. She references through the main character William that so many settlers recreate the society they left behind, from the housing styles to servant clothes and the wardrobe nobles wear – not always appropriate for the humid climes. The heroine, Eugenie, lives in a house that is representative of the local cultures and it was interesting to hear the characters compare England to St. Thomas.
The love story between the two gets started due to a mutual interest in Nathan Wivenly’s shipping company. Nathan is presumed dead after a pirate attack and his company starts to flounder. Enter William, Nathan’s nephew who sails from England to figure out what is going on and help out his aunt. Will is looking forward to this adventure with his friend Andrew as he is being hunted and stalked by the silly misses of the ton and their marriage minded mama’s.
When Will and Eugenie meet, it is mutual sparks. Will makes an assumption that she must be a widow and pursues her for his carnal delights. He learns that he is very much mistaken and the book proceeds for nearly two-thirds with him trying to win her over. It helps that he is actually related to her (although she is a step-relation), her best friend and his best friend instantaneously decide to marry and there isn’t a huge society on the island for them to distance themselves from one another.
Eugenie leads Will on a merry chase. He is forced to court, woo and bend to her will. I liked both the main characters. Eugenie had legitimate concerns about marrying Will. By the time she capitulates you feel as though all her grievances have been well addressed. Will can be the typical Lord of the Manor type, with his entourage and throwing his name around to get what he wants. But chasing after Eugenie humbles him. It makes him a more likable character that he can recognize and correct his flaws.
The mystery of the floundering shipping company weaves its way through the romance. It merits the actions the characters take to save the company, find out who wishes to harm Eugenie and pushes the impending nuptials closer. The villains are introduced quite early and you follow along with what they are doing so it actually created a suspenseful journey. Wondering when and how they were going to launch their dastardly plans.
Unlike most historical romance novels, this one doesn’t follow the familiar recipe for physical intimacy. In all likelihood it’s because Eugenie is uncertain about Will and his intentions and for his part he has promised his friends not to seduce her to make up her mind. When they do finally consummate their relationship, it’s intense. The sex scenes are well written and tender. Although they are passionate, there is love underlying their relationship so it had a poignancy to it. By the time the book ends, Eugenie is well loved, in her heart and in her bed.
The secondary characters enhance the story. It seemed a little farfetched that two best friends marry two best friends, but there may have been slim pickings for these girls. The author does create the backdrop that Will is hounded and harassed by the London ladies and therefore it does make sense that he would welcome a woman who isn’t overly impressed with his title.
This is the first book I have read by this author. There are more books in this series and after this read, I’d be interested in reading more by her. A solid book, especially if you like pirates, sailing, the Caribbean and a bit of English society thrown in too.
Reviewed for Kiltsandswords. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.