by Karen Robards

November 1998
ISBN: 0-8439-2641-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

Lady Catherine Adleyís marriage to Jonathon Hale was not conventional by any stretch of the imagination. They had met when Jon was still pirating and he had made Cathy his mistress. But however unorthodox their beginnings, they had moved on and now had a beautiful son and a passionate marriage. That was all turned upside down when Cathy received an urgent message at their plantation in South Carolina that her father was ill and that she must travel to England at once.

When Cathy arrives in London, she finds her father unconscious and near death. To add to her distress, she soon learns that the cause of her fatherís collapse was the news that Cathyís marriage to Jon was performed by a minister unlawfully, which made their marriage nonexistent and their son illegitimate! Things get even worse when Jon, who had at first stayed behind at their plantation, arrives on the scene to be with Cathy and is summarily arrested for piracy and murder.

Cathy tries futilely to have Jon released from Newgate prison, but he is nonetheless scheduled to be hung for his crimes. She will do anything to save him, a fact that her money hungry and lust filled cousin Harold is well aware of. He makes Cathy a deal Ė marry him and he will save Jon from a hangmanís noose. Cathy sees no other way out of her predicament so although she finds Harold repulsive, she agrees to his proposition.

When Jon, who had never really believed that a lady like Cathy who had been used to having the best could love a modest man like himself, learned that Cathy had married her cousin, he was both heartbroken and furious. He has no idea of the reasons behind Cathyís marriage and when mutiny arises on the slave ship transporting him and other prisoners to Africa, Jon escapes and vows to seek his revenge. When he finds Cathy in a very compromising position with her cousin, how will she convince him of her love?

While I normally love Karen Robardsí novels, Sea Fire is full of the tiring misunderstandings that are so abundant in many romance novels. Neither the hero nor the heroine trusts the other and both are too stubborn and proud to admit that they may have made a mistake. In fact, Cathy perpetuates Jonís misunderstanding of her marriage to her cousin out of pure spite and then wonders why he is so mistrustful. Jon uses his past dealings with unfaithful women as an excuse to abuse Cathy both mentally and physically. Although he really does love her, his actions show otherwise and it would have been nice to have him suffer a bit more before getting Cathy back in the end.

There are several aspects about Sea Fire I found that redeemed the novel somewhat. The sex scenes between Cathy and Jon are very hot, although the fact that Cathy was not entirely willing some of the time spoiled it. Also, Ms. Robardsí talent for writing such descriptive scenery and realistic surroundings of both life on the sea and land is not lacking.

Although the back cover didnít make any mention of another novel, Sea Fire reads as if it is a continuation from a previous novel with its references to Cathy and Jonís turbulent meeting and history. Upon doing some research, I learned that Sea Fire is indeed a sequel to another of Karen Robardsí works, Island Flame. If you read and enjoyed Island Flame (which I understand is very similar to this novel), I would suggest giving Sea Fire a chance, if not, I would recommend picking up another of Karen Robardsí novels, such as Loving Julia or Amanda Rose before choosing this book.

Reviewed in October 2002 by Nicole.

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