1787: Captain Edward Brazier has been soundly defeated by
the villainous Henry Tulkington. Betsey has been forcibly
wed to the weak but lecherous Harry Spafford and imprisoned
in her own home. Edward’s own reputation is under scrutiny
by the Prime Minister William Pitt for his possible part in
the mysterious death of his former admiral on his last mission.
Pitt wants him to investigate the smuggling that is rife in
Deal, but Edward is not sure which side he is even on. All
he wants is to clear his name and marry Betsey.
As with the first book, the author conjures up the narrow
streets of Deal with its smuggling and air of simmering discontent.
The pace slows down in this second book, but the tension builds
up nicely to the denouement, which sets the scene for the
third and final part of the series. Although this book will
appeal to readers of Donachie’s nautical fiction and,
indeed, anybody who wants to read about life in the late 18th
century, this series could best be described as romance with
mystery. If you like Poldark it is sure to appeal, and a romance
written largely from a male viewpoint is both unusual and
interesting. Edward makes for a likeable protagonist, while
Henry is a villain through and through. This is very much
a tale of heroes and villains, with nobody much in the middle,
but even this suits this tale of love and adventure. It could
stand some editing – the series could have been two
books instead of three – but it is still an entertaining
read, and I look forward to seeing how it ends.
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