August Reviews Wrap Up

I've never done a monthly wrap up post before, but August was a crazy month for me in the book blogging world. 

I had more reviews due than I ever have in my 1.5 years blogging. I have 15 reviews posted so far, and two more still to go up in the next few days. 17 books in one month! 

I definitely took on too much this month, and I'm looking forward to much more relaxed fall review schedule.

(pic from The Graphics Fairy)

So, in case you missed any of these reviews, here are the links:

Have a great September, everyone!

"The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter" Review

"The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter"
by Mary Ellen Dennis

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: Aug 1, 2011 
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

A fast-paced and passionate retelling of the story of two timeless lovers who would die for each other. If only they didn't have to. This gorgeous romance by author Mary Ellen Dennis gives the poem a whole new depth and a happy ending.
"Take one highly successful Gothic romance writer who just happens to be an innkeeper's daughter; add one disillusioned, devil-may-care highwayman who robs only the rich on principle; set them down in the turbulent, hypocritical times of late 18th-century England; season with a dash of humor, a splash of the paranormal, and a dollop of danger; and let the adventures begin... A fast pace, fluid writing, and an exceptionally well-crafted plot..." -Library Journal

My Review:

I was so anxious to read this book because it is based on Alfred Noyes' poem, "The Highwayman." The title is a direct reference to the poem, and drew me in immediately. It is, however, very loosely based on the poem. In a way, I understand, because it's difficult to turn a short poem into a 400 page book, but I guess a piece of me was still disappointed.

I enjoyed this book far more than the last book I read by the author- "The Greatest Love on Earth." Dennis has greatly improved her writing in the ten year span between writing the books. I do still feel that she excels at writing the other parts of the story besides the actual romance though.

My favorite part of the book was the dark, foreboding Gothic setting. It seems like every scene takes place on a dark, menacing night.

I felt like Rand was an old fashioned male chauvinist much of the time. When he stole Elizabeth's money and then 'repaid' her in stolen jewels that she wouldn't be able to sell because, well, they're stolen, I did not think he was someone I would fall in love with. I also took offense that whenever Elizabeth would ask 'when' he would do something, he would respond with 'in my own time.' This is so reminiscent of the old style of historical romance when emotionally controlling men were seen as desirable, so it wasn't really my cup of tea.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 2/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 3/5

Bottom Line: The story is intriguing, with a nice Gothic setting, but the romance is too old fashioned for me.

Waiting on Wednesday (83)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released!!

This week I chose:

"Home for the Holidays" (The Mother-Daughter Book Club #5)
by Heather Vogel Frederick
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date: Oct 4, 2011

The following description is from

This Christmas season, join the girls of the mother-daughter book club for a variety of holiday-themed adventures! But unfortunately, nothing goes quite as planned for any of the girls. On a Christmas cruise with their families, Megan and Becca fight over the dashing son of the ship's captain. Cassidy and her family fly back to California to visit Cassidy's sister Courtney... but when the West Coast causes homesickness for their former life in Laguna Beach, the family begins to question what state they should call home. And a disastrous sledding accident causes both Emma and Jess to completely change their holiday plans.
Between squabbles, injuries, and blizzards, everything seems to be going wrong. Will the girls be able to find their holiday spirit in time for Christmas?

I know, it's way too early to be thinking Christmas books, but how ADORABLE does this one look!!? The cover is perfect! This is definitely on my holiday to read list!

Ashley March Guest Post & Giveaway

Today, I'd like to welcome Ashley March to In the Hammock for a guest post! 

Ashley is the author of the new historical romance "Romancing the Countess," and I'd like to thank her for taking the time out today to visit as part of her blog tour! 

Turning a Spark into an Idea…and the Truth about Random Hearts
By Ashley March

Thanks so much to Carrie for hosting me here at In the Hammock today! I have to admit that one of my dreams has always been to have a hammock slung up outside where I could while away the day doing nothing but reading. Now that I’m a mother with two young daughters, I know that will have to wait until they go to school. 
    My newest Victorian romance, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, which releases on September 6th, is about an earl and his best friend’s wife who are drawn together after their spouses—who were having an affair—die in a carriage accident. I first had the idea (or, as I like to call it, a spark of the idea) for this book back in 2006. I was working late one evening at a part-time job—one of those jobs where you try to think of anything to amuse yourself to keep from getting bored—when I came up with the idea of a man and a woman whose spouses had an affair and then died. I must confess that at the time this spark of an idea was meant to be a dark comedy. Perhaps neither the hero nor the heroine would have loved their spouses, and they would have a competition to pretend to Society who could be the best at acting the proper widow or widower.
    Thank goodness I left the idea alone for four years. When it came back in 2010, I decided I really wanted to write the story because I was still intrigued by the concept of the cheating spouses who died, but also about how the surviving widow and widower would move on with their lives. I wanted to see how I would be able to write the challenge of such a widow and widower falling in love. But it quickly became apparent that it couldn’t be a dark comedy. Instead, it had to be something much, much more. It had to become a story of healing, redemption, and of forgiveness. It had to feature a relationship that goes beyond a surface attraction or romance to a deep and lasting emotional bond that can only be described as a love story.
    If you have the opportunity to read ROMANCING THE COUNTESS when it comes out next week, I hope you’ll let me know what you think and if I achieved these goals.
    Before I go, I have to tell you that when I first pitched this concept to my editor, her initial response was that, although she loved the idea, it sounded very much like Random Hearts, a movie made in 1999 starring Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas. Yes, that movie.  If you were like me, you probably turned if off within the first half hour. It was terrible. So terrible, in fact, that I thought I had completely blocked it from memory. But I suppose the idea was still lurking in the back of my mind, waiting to come out someday in the form of a romance novel. Please allow me to assure you, though, that the similarity to Random Hearts is nothing more than a…random coincidence. And although Random Hearts was a terrible movie, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS is much, much better. ;)

Did you ever see the movie Random Hearts? Did you think it was as terrible as I did? Because Harrison Ford is truly a much better actor than the character he played in that movie, I’d love to hear what your favorite Harrison Ford movie is!

One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, and will get a chance to send a copy of my debut, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, to a friend (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting!  


All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and answer Ashley's questions in the comments section along with your email address! Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :) Also, if you aren't comfortable leaving your email here, go ahead and leave a comment and then send me an email with your email addy
Extra Entries:
+1 Tweet this contest (leave link in comment)
+1 Post link in sidebar of your blog (leave link in comment)

  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Extra entries are optional and can all be left in the same comment
  • Leave a comment with your email address
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Mon Sep 12
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

"Sylvester" Review

by Georgette Heyer

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: April 1, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from (from an older edition):  

Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, is a polished bachelor who has stringent requirements for his future wife—she must be wellborn, intelligent, elegant and attractive. And of course she must be able to present herself well in high society. But when he is encouraged to consider Phoebe Marlow as a bride, Sylvester is taken aback by the coltish woman who seems to resent him….
When Phoebe runs away, circumstances find the two striking up an unusual friendship. Phoebe discovers that the duke isn't the villain she first thought. And Sylvester stumbles upon something he never dared hope for.…

My Review:

This book is hilarious! After my initial experience reading Heyer was a flop (The Quiet Gentleman), I finally see why she has legions of fans. "Sylvester" is a sweet regency romance, with truly funny, witty dialogue.

I can see how there are comparisons to "Pride and Prejudice" with this book, but it's very different and fresh also. Sylvester is so hilariously arrogant. But he's still absolutely adorable because he's so clueless about it. And how can you blame him, he's a duke, so he's never been told no about anything.

Phoebe isn't perfect herself, and their back and forth banter is really so funny. I almost can't believe how snarky they are to each other! I'm curious if this was common the Regency era to Heyer's time. I think it would be considered rude to banter like they do in today's world, but in this context it is so darn funny!

The only thing that I didn't love about the couple was their difference in maturity levels. It seemed like Phoebe was perfectly happy running around being silly with her best friend, Tom, who is her own age. It's too bad that she wasn't able to stay a 'kid' a little longer.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 3/5 (too serious for the story!)
Writing: 5/5

Bottom Line: I recommend this book to fans of sweet, funny regency romance I can't wait to read more of her romance titles.

In My Mailbox (83)

 In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

"The Virtuoso" by Grace Burrowes

I am SO excited about this book! I loved her last book, The Soldier, and Valentine was one of my very favorite characters, I can't wait to read his story!

"Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish" by Grace Burrowes

Two Grace Burrowes books in the same week! Yay!

"Romancing the Countess" by Ashley March

I am reading this one now and it's excellent!

"Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels" by Sarah Wendell

How can I resist?

 "Seduction and Scandal" by Charlotte Featherstone

I've heard rave reviews about this series!

 contest wins:
"Wanderlust" by  Elisabeth Eaves

 won from Christina at Confessions of a Book Addict!

"The Wizard of Dark Street" Trading Cards

 pic from

Won from the author Shawn Thomas Odyssey. The illustrations are gorgeous and so fun!

What did you receive in your mailbox this week???

Free Ebook for Kindle: "Bright Young Things"

As I was browsing Amazon today, I found "Bright Young Things" available for free! As far as I can tell this is the entire book along with an excerpt from the upcoming "Beautiful Days." It is a pre-order available Sept 6. I think this one is only available for free for Kindle.

"Bright Young Things" by Anna Godberson

Winner Announced! "The Twelfth Enchantment"

Winner Announced!!
The winner of "The Twelfth Enchantment" is:
Lukey Here
Winner was chosen via random number generator. Congrats to the winner!! I have emailed the winner for her mailing addresses. Winner has 3 days to respond :) Please allow 8 weeks for delivery. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who entered!! Congrats!!

Waiting on Wednesday (82)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released!!

This week I chose:

by Erica Orloff
Release Date: Dec 8, 2011

The following description is from

An epic romance full of mysteries that transcend time—fans of Romeo and Juliet and The Time Traveler’s Wife will rejoice!

Some loves are not made to last . . . Like Romeo and Juliet, Heloise and Abelard were doomed from the start, and their romance was destined to pass into history. Yet when sixteen-year-old Callie Martin discovers a diary hidden within an antique book, their story—and hers—takes on another life. For the diary leads Callie to the brilliant and handsome August, who is just as mysterious as the secret the diary hides. Their attraction is undeniable. As the two hunt down the truth behind the diary—and that of Heloise and Abelard’s ancient romance—their romance becomes all-consuming. But Callie knows it can’t last . . . love never does. Will their love that burns as bright as a shooting star flame out, or will these star-crossed lovers be able to defy history?

I will admit, what drew me in was the fabulous cover! But then when I saw Romeo and Juliet in the description, I knew I had to read this book!

What are you waiting for this week???

"The Greatest Love on Earth" Review

"The Greatest Love on Earth"
by Mary Ellen Dennis

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: Aug 1, 2011 
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Set in the exotic world of a 19th century circus, Dream Dancer sweeps readers into deathdefying feats, dangerous rivalries, and a love that has all the thrills and romance of the greatest show on earth.
Bold, beautiful star equestrian Calliope Kelley has two passions in life: her father's circus and daredevil animal tamer Brian O'Connor. When the circus is destroyed by fire and Brian disappears, Calliope changes her name and becomes engaged to another man. But then Brian returns and everything in Calliope's new life goes topsy-turvy...

My Review:

I enjoyed the circus setting very much, it was very refreshing and unique. The author did a great job writing about the circus and it's inhabitants. However the romance in the story was off-putting for me. There were many cringe-worthy moments that made the romantic scenes hard to read.

Brian and Calliope had been separated since she had been a child, but when he returns to the circus, they start making out within the same scene. It seemed unrealistic and at the same time it seemed like Brian was taking advantage of a teenager. There wasn't a lot of development of their relationship besides the physical and what development there was felt awkward.

It was fun to read about the circus acts and performers though. It reminded me just a tiny bit of the travelling show in "Annie Get Your Gun." The author excels at the other areas of the story besides the romance.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 2/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 3/5

Bottom Line: I would recommend this book to readers interested in a unique setting who won't mind skimming over an awkward romance. 

Teaser Tuesday (46)

Yay for "Teaser Tuesday" from MizB of Should be Reading!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser Tuesday pick:

" She could do as she pleased at home, thank goodness. Locals expected her to be eccentric.  "

p 19 ARC of "The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter" by Mary Ellen Dennis

"To Die For" Review

"To Die For"
by Sandra Byrd

Publisher: Howard Books
Release Date: Aug 9, 2011 
Source: book sent by publisher and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.
Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.
Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book—Meg.

My Review:

Perhaps there is such a thing as too much Anne Boleyn. Having read other books about Anne, I felt like a lot of this book was a rehash of a story I already knew.

One thing that was new about this version was something that I liked a lot. The author portrayed Anne as human, not a manipulative monster. The Anne we've read about before probably wouldn't have even been capable of having a real friend, let alone one so nice as Meg. Anne is still a force to be reckoned with, but we get to see her vulnerable, sometimes even friendly, side.

For the most part, I felt like the book was Meg telling Anne's story and we didn't get to know enough about Meg herself. Also, a lot of Meg's story was very sad. I definitely could have done without knowing all the graphic violence she endured from her family.  I feel like this harsh sort of story will appeal to fans of the historical fiction genre though, because it seems to be in a lot of books in the genre. However, I prefer a gentler story.

My favorite characters were perhaps the gentlest in the story-Meg's brother, Thomas, and her on again off again love, Will. These two men were strong enough not to abuse the women in their lives in order to feel powerful.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 3/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 5/5 (gorgeous!!)
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: I recommend this book to those who haven't read much about Anne yet, or those who must read every book about her. Otherwise, it may feel repetitive.

This review is part of the To Die For Virtual Tour:

Tour schedule:
Author Website/Ladies in Waiting Web Page:
Sandra Byrd's Blog:
Sandra Byrd's FB Page:!/sandrabyrdwrites

In My Mailbox (82)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

contest win:

"Lost Voices" by Sarah Porter

won from Badass Bookie and autographed by the author!

 for review:

 "Veiled Rose" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

 I never had a chance to read the first one, but this one looks awesome too!

"Hailee" by Penny Zeller

"The Hour of Dust and Ashes" by Kelly Gay

What did you receive in your mailbox this week???

"The Quiet Gentleman" Review

"The Quiet Gentleman"
by Georgette Heyer

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: June 1, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from 

Unscathed from the wars, Gervase Frant finally returns to his father's estate to claim his title as the new Earl of Stanyon. But his stepmother's resentment and his half brother's open disdain put a chill on Gervase's welcome. Now he must establish himself as the new head of the house… and ignore his family's rising hostility.
Then Gervase's eye is caught by a lovely young woman—the same woman already much in favor with his half brother. Now the brothers face direct competition as they bid for the lady's attentions. But as Gervase struggles to maintain a gentlemanly balance, he begins to find himself the victim of repeatedly cruel accidents. Soon it becomes increasingly clear that someone wants the new Earl of Stanyon dead….

My Review:

This was the first book I've read by Heyer and it might not have been the best one to begin with because I don't think it's one of her more romantic books. I went in thinking that it would be a regency romance, but there was more emphasis on the brothers' quarrelling and the mystery.

I did enjoy the mannerly dialogue and writing. It was quick, witty, and Austen-esque. I can see how Heyer has such a large following.

I actually liked Gervase, the quiet gentleman, a lot. I found myself saying "Poor Gervase" quite a lot because so many people were out to get him! He was a sweet guy and there were always people yelling at him.

Main Characters: 4/5 (Gervase)
Supporting Characters: 3/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5

Bottom Line: I loved the author's writing style and I can't wait to read a more romantic book from her long list of titles.

Winners Announced!

Winner Announced!!
The winner of "Aphrodite the Diva" Goddess Girls #6 is:
Carol L.
The winners of "Confessions of an Improper Bride" are:


Winners were chosen via random number generator. Congrats to the winners!! I have emailed the winners for their mailing addresses. Winners have 3 days to respond :) Please allow 8 weeks for delivery. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who entered!! Congrats!!

"Ransome's Heart" Review and First Wild Card Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Kaye Dacus, author of Ransome’s Honor has a BA in English, with a minor in history, and an MA in writing popular fiction. Her love of the Regency era started with Jane Austen. Her passion for literature and for history come together to shape her creative, well-researched, and engaging writing.

Visit the author's website.


This engaging end to the Ransome Trilogy is a fast-paced tale of love, faith, and danger on the Caribbean Sea in the early 1800s. Captain William Ransome frantically searches for his kidnapped wife and sister. But who will rescue them when buried secrets emerge and challenge everything they believe?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927557
ISBN-13: 978-0736927550


It is too dangerous.”

William Ransome snapped his cutlass into its scabbard and turned to face his wife. “The longer I delay, the farther away they take Charlotte.”

Dread froze his lungs, his stomach, his heart. Charlotte. His sister. Taken. “If anything happens to her…”

Julia wrapped her arms around her abdomen and leaned against one of the heavy posts at the end of the bed. “Why the message to my father? What has he to do with Charlotte?”

William double-checked the load of his pistol and tucked it under his belt. “Your father has publicly vowed—more than once—to rid the Caribbean of pirates and privateers for good. Charlotte was likely a target of opportunity, not purpose.”

“But if the man’s argument is with my father, it should have been me taken, not Charlotte.”

William could not disagree with her. Nor could he agree, as the very idea of Julia’s being taken by pirates nearly ripped his heart from his chest. “I should have put her on that ship in Barbados returning to England. If I had followed my conscience”—instead of listening to Julia’s and Charlotte’s emotional arguments—“she would have been well out of harm’s way by now.”

They both startled at a knock on the door.


The door opened at his command, revealing Jeremiah. “The horses are ready, Commodore.”

“Very good.” William took up his case and hat and moved toward the door.

Julia stepped in front of him, expression imploring. “Please, William, wait until dawn. The roads are treacherous enough in the full light of day. At night…and you do not know where you are going. What good will it do Charlotte if you become lost or…or something else happens to you or the horse? Or what if the pirates have laid a trap and done this to lure you from the safety of the house?”

A mirthless laugh expanded in his throat, but he stifled it. Safety of the house? Was the house safe when the brigands had snatched Charlotte from the porch almost directly outside this very room?

“I am sending Asher with him, Miss Julia,” Jeremiah said. “He knows the roads ’twixt here and Kingston better than anyone I know.”

William tore his gaze away from Julia’s anxious face. “Jeremiah, I am depending on you to protect Mrs. Ransome and ensure no harm comes to her while I am away.”

“I will protect her with my life, sir.”

He stepped around Julia and handed his bag and hat to Jeremiah. “Thank you. I shall join you in a moment.”

As he hoped, Jeremiah understood the dismissal. He gave a slight bow and left the room, closing the door behind him.

William took Julia by the shoulders and directed her to the chaise positioned at the end of their bed. He had to apply more pressure than he liked to make her sit. “You are to stay at Tierra Dulce. You will keep an escort with you at all times. I want armed guards posted near the house.”

She nodded, never blinking or breaking eye contact. “Yes, William.”

“If you hear any word from Charlotte or receive”—his voice caught in his throat—“a ransom demand from the pirate, you will send a messenger to Fort Charles. They will get word to me.”

“Yes, William.”

Heart tearing asunder at the necessity of leaving Julia behind, he bent over and pressed his forehead to hers. “Pray for Charlotte.”

Julia’s hands slid around behind his neck, her fingers twining in his hair. She angled her head and kissed him. “I promise. I will pray for you also, my love.”

He kissed her again and then tore himself away from her embrace. “I must go. I promise I will return—and I will bring Charlotte with me.”

Determined to not look back, he made for the door. He opened it and then hesitated. Without turning around, he said the words he needed to say, just in case they were the last he ever said to his wife. “I love you.”

“I love you, William.” Though softly spoken, her words acted as the command that loosed him from his mooring. He stepped through the door and closed it, leaving her on the other side.

Ned Cochrane paced the drive below the porch steps when William exited the house. He barely spared his former first officer a glance. Intellectually, he knew Ned had done his best, having been taken by surprise and set upon by several men. However, in his heart, he wanted to rail at the younger man for failing to protect Charlotte.

Though a horse was his least favorite mode of transportation, William easily swung himself up into the saddle. Once he was settled—and Ned appeared to be also—William nodded at Asher to lead the way.

Darkness enveloped them. Behind, the light from the house acted as a siren’s call, beckoning him to turn, to look, to regret his decision to leave in the dead of night and wish he had taken Julia’s advice and waited until dawn.

His neck ached from the effort of keeping his face forward instead of giving in to temptation and taking one last look at the house, hoping to catch a final glimpse of Julia.

He focused on the bumpy motion of the animal underneath him. He must leave all thoughts of—all worries about—Julia behind, just as he now left her home behind. Jeremiah had known Julia most of her life. He had been as much of a substitute father for Julia as her father, Admiral Witherington, had been for William.

No, he could not worry about Julia and her safety. Rescuing Charlotte must be his only focus, his only thought.

The monotonous rhythm of the horses’ hooves, at a walk over the dark, deeply rutted dirt roads, along with the necessity of keeping his eyes trained on the light shirt stretched across Asher’s broad back, lulled William into a stupor.

Ahead lay his ship. The thought of boarding Alexandra and getting under sail chipped away at his anxiety. As soon as he was on the water, as soon as he stood on the quarterdeck and issued the command to weigh anchor, he would be that much closer to finding Charlotte and bringing her home.

The road widened, and Ned pulled up beside him.

“You are certain the man did not identify himself?”

“No, sir. He did not give his name. He only said her safety depended on the mercy of a pirate.” Ned’s voice came across flat and hoarse.

“What were you doing out on the porch, alone with her in the dark?” Even as William asked this, he reminded himself Ned was not at fault. But if Charlotte had been inside, perhaps…

“I followed them—Miss Ransome and Winchester—when they went for their walk. I did not trust Mrs. Ransome’s steward to behave honorably.” He paused. “I need not have worried. Char—Miss Ransome handled the situation admirably and dispatched Winchester, and their engagement, with aplomb.”

“Winchester was with you when she was taken? Why did you not tell me this before?”

“No, sir. Miss Ransome dismissed him. He had been gone for…several minutes.”

Could Winchester be involved? Dread sank like a cannonball in William’s gut. Julia already suspected the steward of embezzling money from the plantation. And William had left her there with that man—

“I asked her to marry me.”

If Winchester were involved, and this was a ploy to get William away from Tierra—he yanked the reins. The horse voiced its protest and jerked and swerved, nearly unseating William. “I beg your pardon?”

“After Charlotte broke her engagement with Winchester, we talked about our mutual regard. I proposed marriage to her, and she accepted.” Ned’s words barely rose above the sounds of the horses’ hooves on the hard-packed earth.

From a sinking ship into shark-infested waters. Could Charlotte not have waited even a full day after breaking one engagement before forming another—again, without her family’s knowledge? “And if I refuse my permission?”

“Then we shall wait. We’ll wait until you think I am worthy to marry her, sir.”

Worthy to marry her. William did not have to think hard to remember standing before Julia’s father twelve years ago and saying the same words. Sir Edward had graciously given him—a poor, threadbare lieutenant with no prospects and nothing to recommend him as husband or son-in-law—a father’s blessing for William and Julia to marry based on nothing other than their love for each other. William had been the one to deem himself unworthy of her affections, and he had almost lost her forever.

“We shall discuss this after we return Charlotte home.”

“I pray that will be soon, sir.”

“So do I, Ned. So do I.”

Charlotte awoke with a gasp. Wooden planks formed the low ceiling above her. A canvas hammock conformed to her body and swung with the heave and haw of the ocean beneath the ship.

A ship?

Not possible. They had made port, hadn’t they?

She stared at the underside of the deck above, trying to clear the haziness from her brain. Yes. They had made port. Left Alexandra and ridden in carriage across those horrible, rutted roads to Tierra Dulce, Julia’s sugar plantation. The low, sprawling white house with the deep porch that wrapped all the way around and the white draperies billowing through the open windows.

The porch. She blinked rapidly. The porch. At night. In the dark. Henry Winchester and…and Ned.

She bolted upright and then flung her torso over the side of the hammock as her stomach heaved.

Why should she be sick? She hadn’t experienced a moment of seasickness on the crossing from England to Jamaica. She climbed out of the hammock, skirt and petticoats hindering her progress until she hoisted them above her knees, and made for the small table with a glass and pitcher.

Wan light from the stern windows sparkled through the glass, revealing a residue of white powder in the bottom of it. She set the glass back on the stand. Last night the pirate had made her drink from the glass, and then everything had gone hazy. But before that…

She buried her face in her hands. Being torn away from Ned. She prayed they had not killed him. She’d heard no gunshot, but as their raid had been one of stealth, they would more likely have used a blade to end Ned’s life.

A sob ripped at her throat, but she forced it to stay contained. She would not give the pirates the satisfaction of seeing her upset. And she must, and would, find a means of escape.

Thirst got the better of her, and she lifted the china pitcher of water and rinsed her mouth before drinking deeply the brackish liquid. She then turned and surveyed the cabin. Obviously the pirate captain’s quarters. Though smaller than Ned’s aboard Audacious, which was in turn smaller than William’s aboard Alexandra, the room was neatly kept, with serviceable furnishings, whitewashed walls and ceiling, and plain floors. Nothing to exhibit the extravagance or wealth she’d expected to see in a pirate’s private lair.

The desk. Perhaps something there would tell her more about her captor. She crossed to it, rather surprised by the empty work surface. No stacks of the papers or books like the ones resting on William’s or Ned’s worktables. Her fingers itched to open the drawer under the desktop and the small doors and drawers along the high back of it, but Mama had taught her better than that.

Two miniatures hanging above the desk caught her eye. One showed a woman, probably a few years older than Charlotte, with dark hair and angular features. Too plain to be called pretty, but not ugly either. The green backdrop of the second painting contrasted vividly with the reddish-brown hair of a pretty girl and matched her vibrant green eyes.

Mahogany hair and green eyes—just like Julia. Why would a pirate have a portrait of Julia hanging in his cabin? But, she corrected herself, the painting was of a girl no older than thirteen or fourteen. Surely the resemblance to Julia was merely coincidental.

“She was lovely, was she not?”

Charlotte gasped and whirled. A dark-haired man dressed in a blue coat that resembled a commodore’s or admiral’s—complete with prodigious amounts of gold braid about the cuffs, collar, and lapels—stood in the doorway of the cabin.

He tossed a bicorne hat—also similar to a navy officer’s—onto the oblong table in the middle of the cabin, clasped his hands behind his back, and sauntered toward her, his eyes on the portrait.

“What do you want with me?”

“I am sorry for the manner of your coming here, Miss…?” He cocked one eyebrow at her.

“Ransome. Charlotte Ransome. My brother is Commodore William Ransome. He will hunt you down. And when he finds you—”

“When he finds me,” the pirate said, sighing, “I am certain the encounter shall be quite violent and bloody. Is that what you were going to say?”

Charlotte ground her teeth together. The man stood there, serene as a vicar on the Sabbath, acting as if they stood in a drawing room in Liverpool discussing the weather. “What do you want with me?”

“With you? Nothing.” He flicked an invisible speck of dust from the oval frame. “My business is with her.”

“With her?” Charlotte nodded toward the painting. “Is that…?”

“Julia Witherington—or Julia Ransome, as I have lately learned. Empress of the Tierra Dulce sugar empire.”

The strange lilt in his voice when he said Julia’s name sent a chill down Charlotte’s spine. “Yes, she is married. To my brother.”

“The famous Commodore Ransome.” The pirate turned and ambled toward the dining table. “His reputation precedes him.”

Worry riddled Charlotte at the pirate’s lack of worry over the thought of William’s hunting him down and blowing him and his crew out of the water. After Charlotte escaped, naturally.

“You were not part of my plan, little Charlotte Ransome.” He turned, leaned against the edge of the table, and crossed his arms. The coat pulled across his broad chest and muscular shoulders. A lock of dark hair fell over his forehead, softening the way his heavy black brows hooded his eyes. His nose had been aquiline once, but now it sported a bump about halfway down from whence the rest of the appendage angled slightly to his left. A scar stretched across his forehead and down into his left eyebrow. On first sight he could have passed for Spanish, but his accent marked him as an Englishman.

If he weren’t a no-good, dastardly, cowardly, kidnapping pirate, she might consider him handsome.

“Did you kill him?” The question squeezed past her throat unbidden.


“Ned—Captain Cochrane. The man with me on the porch.” She schooled her emotions as best she could, pretending the man standing before her was none other than Kent, her nemesis during her days aboard Audacious as a midshipman.

“If he is dead, it is through no work of me or my men. We do not kill for sport, only for defense.”

“Ha!” The mirthless laugh popped out before she could stop it. “Morality from a pirate? Someone who spends his life pillaging and thieving and destroying and killing and…and…” Heat flooded her face.

“And?” The pirate stood and stalked toward her, an odd gleam in his dark eyes. “And ravishing young women? Is that what you were going to say?”

Charlotte backed away, right into the edge of the desk. She gripped it hard. “N-no.”

The pirate leaned over her, hands on either side of her atop the desk, trapping her. “Do not try to lie to me, little Charlotte Ransome. You have no talent for it.”

Stays digging into her waist, she bent as far back as she could. “Yes, then. Ravishing.” Not that he would get a chance to ravish her. A fork. A penknife. Anything with a sharp edge or point. Once she had something like that in her possession, she would be able to defend herself against him.

Up close, the pirate’s brown eyes held chips of gold and green. A hint of dark whiskers lay just beneath the skin of his jaw and above his upper lip.

He blinked when someone knocked on the door but didn’t move. “Come!”

“Captain, Lau and Declan are back.”

“Very good. I shall meet with them in the wheelhouse momentarily to hear their report. Dismissed.”

Charlotte wanted to cry out to stop the other man from leaving, but she knew she deluded herself. She was no safer with any man on this ship than with their captain.

Would Ned still want her—even be able to look at her—after the pirates were finished with her?

“What’s this?” The pirate reached up and touched Charlotte’s cheek. “Tears?”

She shook her head, more to dislodge his hand than in denial.

With another sigh he straightened and then handed her a handkerchief. “Calm yourself, Miss Ransome. I have no intention of ravishing you. Nor of allowing anyone else to ravish you. While you are aboard my ship, you are under my protection.”

He crossed to the table and retrieved his hat. “You, however, must stay to this cabin at all times. Though my men know my rules of conduct, a few of them might give in to the temptation of their baser desires should they see you about on deck.”

Charlotte leaned heavily against the desk. The handkerchief in her hand was of the finest lawn, embroidered white-on-white with a Greek-key design around the edge. She frowned at the bit of cloth. Why would a pirate carry something so delicate?

He settled the bicorne on his dark head, points fore-and-aft, the same way the officers of the Royal Navy wore theirs.

“Who are you?”

He touched the fore tip of the hat and then flourished a bow. “I am called El Salvador, and you are aboard my ship, Vengeance. Welcome to my home, Miss Ransome.”

Now here's My Review!!

4 out of 5 Stars

I love a good pirate story and this one was excellent! There was a large cast of characters who were all full of life. Each of their relationships intersected in interesting ways. There were lots of unexpected twists and turns in the story.

I feel that since I didn't read the first two books in the series that I missed out on a lot of the romance. It was hard for me to pull for Ned and Charlotte as a couple because I didn't see how they fell in love.

I really liked Charlotte's character, she was so brave and wasn't opposed to being part of the ship's crew. I'd say the woman on the cover must be Julia because Charlotte wouldn't be caught dead looking so wistful.

Bottom Line: This was a rollicking pirate adventure with lots of relationships and drama.