This starts with quite a ruckus! Captain Blackheart, Gregory Steele, ex privateer and lately of a more dubious high seas occupation--namely pirating, has been employed by Oliver York, the Earl of Carlisle, to locate and bring back to England from Philadelphia, his wife's mother, Clara Halton. Steele arrives to find Clara abandoned by the small community she lives in, left to die of consumption. Despite her protestations, Steele bundles Clara up and takes her with him.
On the return voyage, Clara discovers that Blackheart is more Goldenheart. The journey back to England is filled with delightful and sometimes hilarious occasions. Clara worms her way not only into the captain's affections, but those of the entire crew. Clara and Steele find themselves strongly attracted to each other and the enforced intimacy of the Captain's cabin becomes the stage for their tempestuous and passionate encounters.
Blackheart has a job to do though and he delivers Clara as commissioned, despite his feelings for her. Not to be deterred, Clara sneaks back on board the ship to confront Blackheart, to force him to acknowledge the connection they have for each other. Unfortunately the ship sets sail before Clara realizes it and she finds herself headed for adventure and a treasure hunt involving the dreaded Crimson Corsair. An unexpected turn of events!
I found the ending and the treasure hunt somewhat difficult. Indeed I kept looking around for Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean during the cave incident. For some reason, although treasure hunting is part of a pirate's lot, the later actions are not as forceful as the beginning. Still, I enjoyed Steel and Clara's story and their interactions. This is a a pleasing and unexpected addition to the Dukes of War series. I loved it that Clara was no simpering young thing and that Ridley has included more mature characters within her romantic genre.
A NetGalley ARC