by Laura Renken

January 2001
ISBN: 0-515-12984-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Jove Books
Mass Market Paperback

Regan Welles and her cousin Arabella are enjoying the scented night air of Jamaica. It is the evening of a grand announcement for the lovely Arabella - she is to wed Kendrick Harrison, Governor of Jamaica and Regan's half-brother.

This is the first and practically the last quiet moment Regan has during this whole book, because shortly after Regan leaves Arabella's side she is kidnapped by a group of pirates under the leadership of one Talon Drake (isn't that just the perfect name for a pirate?). Drake has a plan to restore his good name and that plan includes marriage to Arabella Welles. Of course he gets the wrong girl!! One has to wonder about the intelligence of these men who lack the foresight to acquaint themselves with the appearance of their intended target. No masked ball for an excuse here, either, just a plain and idiotic mistake.

From this point on, the plot becomes increasingly convoluted. Regan escapes Drake; Drake is captured and escapes; Regan is re-captured and taken on board Drake's ship. Yes, they are attracted to each other and yes, Drake manages to get them wed, but it is quite a while before any bedding actually takes place. By then, the unresolved sexual tension is giving everyone cramps and the reader is yelling "get on with it, already..."! Battles are fought, treacheries cost people their lives and plans go sadly awry. There's even a scene involving opium addiction. Drake is captured again and escapes again; Regan escapes only to be captured by a smelly pirate. Oh, there's also a treasure. Aaaargh!

It is at least three-quarters of the way through the story before Regan finally begins to trust in, and believe Drake. This is probably the most annoying feature of the whole story - Regan's absolute and steadfast refusal to accept the truth from the man she is so obviously in love with. OK, it is naive to expect Regan to trust Drake from the start, but once you've fallen in love and had the obligatory 'Night of Many Climaxes' with the hero, there is an unwritten rule that you're supposed to start believing in him, even if it is against the odds. Unfortunately, nobody has seen fit to tell Regan Welles the basic rules of How to be a Heroine and she tries to kill him (several times), burn his ship, betray him to murdering rogues - the man must have had the patience of a saint or taken one too many hits to the head with a belaying pin!

There could have been a wonderfully adventurous romance here - Regan and Talon certainly have the passion to sizzle off the pages if only the incredibly torturous plot progression hadn't gotten in the way! Cut out half the betrayals, lies, political complexities and down-and-out villainy, concentrate on the romance and this would have been a great tale of a stormy love on the high seas of adventure! The two stars in the rating are earned for Ms. Renken's careful attention to detail and the glorious settings in the Caribbean. Sorry, folks, can't recommend this one.

Reviewed in August 2001 by Celia.

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