This is book #2 of an epic trilogy, a historical romance featuring three warring families: the Drakes, the Espinosas, and the Kendrick-Welles. Set in the Caribbean in the 15th century, it is a tale of extreme betrayal, brutal revenge and hidden treasure, the quest for lost honor, and the hope of new love.
"Night Shadow" is Marcus Drake's story. He is Talon Drake's ("My Lord Pirate"), younger brother. The two brothers were born of a noble English family on their large island plantation in the Caribbean. Marcus is less secure in himself than Talon. As the younger brother, perhaps finding it hard to measure up to the standards set by his father and older sibling, he got into a bout of rebellious "carousing" that led to his expulsion from Cambridge. Marcus is also much less at home on the high seas than the other males in his family. He loves the land and prefers farming and estate administration. However, his father did not trust him with much responsibility on the plantation. Then, through a youthful indiscretion on Marcus's part, he inadvertently betrayed a family secret. His entire family, except for Talon and himself, was tortured and brutally murdered as a result. The politics of the time - the sea rivalry between the English and the Spanish, and the treasures of the Spanish Main, helped to further destroy the fortunes of the Drake brothers. They both took to piracy in order to survive, and to revenge themselves on those who brought them down. Revenge and clearing their name of treason charges has kept them alive through terrible hardships, including years spent in a Spanish dungeon. But throughout, Marcus has lived with the terrible burden that it was his own weakness that destroyed his family.
In book #1, Talon and Marcus, escaped the Spanish to adventure and to continue their mission. They were being furiously pursued, with a death penalty hanging over their heads, by Harrison Kendrick, their worst enemy and the man who caused the family's slaughter, and also by Gabriel de Espinosa y Ramirez, "El Condor." El Condor is the Almirante of the Spanish fleet and a ruthless pirate hunter. At the end of the first book, Marcus is captured and back in Spanish hands. His brother believes him to be dead.
As this novel opens, we find Marcus, once again aboard a Spanish ship and occupying the dungeon. There is a hurricane-like storm, and when most of the Spanish crew is killed or swept overboard Marcus is asked, by none other than El Condor's beautiful sister Liandra, the vessel's most prominent passenger, to Captain the boat and save all of their souls. Also on board is El Condor's little daughter, Christina. Liandra and the remaining Spaniards are terrified that Marcus will discover the identities of Liandra and Christina, and take a terrible revenge. Marcus does indeed find out, but he does not want to harm an innocent young woman and child and have them suffer, as did his own mother and sister. Liandra and Marcus are drawn together in spite of their family histories. She discovers what a kind, brave man he really is. And he sees, in Liandra, a lovely, earthy & quirky, compassionate woman of tremendous courage. Our heroine, who finds herself very much in love with the new ship's Captain, experiences lust for the first time. She certainly does not discourage Marcus from making love to her. In one of the most frustrating love/sex scenes of all time, El Condor-interruptus takes place. Liandra's brother Gabriel and crew capture them at sea and take over their boat...immediately after consummation - that is clinical consummation! Marcus is forced, although he is not unwilling, to marry Liandra to preserve her honor. Gabriel doesn't plan on really welcoming his new brother-in-law to the fold - he knows that Marcus is doomed to die. So the newlyweds are separated - only to be reunited again on the island where Liandra lives. There they have a short time together to discover if they are suited to continue as a couple in the future...if, in fact, Marcus lives to have a future. Talon and Marcus are also reunited toward the end of the novel, and Marcus discovers that his sister did survive her brutal attack, so many years ago. And so the adventure(s) continue.
This story is filled with excitement, subplots, wonderful characters and humor. Liandra, who is an excellent swordsperson, as well as horseperson, (gender non-specific nouns are definitely not poetic), and she gets to flaunt her stuff.
I recommend this book and can't wait to read the last book in the trilogy, "The Heart of the Condor."