Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.
With his Valour at the bottom of the ocean, Gabriel Dante sails the former Spanish galleon, now renamed Endurance back home to Pigeon Cay as they come across a ship sailing in a fixed circle and flaying the yellow flag announcing it's a plague ship and others should steer clear. Doing his seafaring duty, Dante orders his men to sink it, but after the first broadside, he notices a lone survivor...A slender, pale, yellow-haired waif standing on deck.
Despite his survival instinct, Gabriel decides to save her, towing her behind his ship in a boat in order to prevent possible contagion, but a storm changes his plans once more when he's forced to save the girl from drowning.
Despite the crew's superstitions and fears, Evangeline "Eva" Chandler isn't contagious or a witch, but merely searching for her missing father, and Gabriel, despite his better intentions, decides to help her...And soon they're embroiled in decades long intrigue involving a ghost ship disappeared during a hurricane carrying a treasure many would kill to possess.
This was yet another wonderful addition to the Dante saga. It had a much more dramatic story arc than the previous two novels, and the romance seemed a bit of an afterthought, but the ending slayed it with the culmination of the suspense/mystery sub-plot and that final action-y confrontation.
The prologue was reminiscent of Through a Dark Mist as the reader is thrust in the middle of the action, while travelling back in time to establish the story and characters with the first chapter.
As I said, the plot had a pretty dramatic flare with a displaced girl searching for her father, surviving the plague on board a ship and almost blown to smithereens, only to be rescued (twice) by a rather snarly, bruised pirate, but thanks to the characters (both main and secondary) and their interactions, the story worked very well.
The plot unfurled slowly and leisurely, yet the pacing never suffered, flowing easily, picking up the pace or slowing down when needed.
I liked the two leads, especially the heroine who was no wilting violet no matter what happened to her (holding strong even under duress), while the hero remained a slight enigma throughout the story. Even that worked in the book's favor, maintaining the sprinkle of mystique and intrigue no matter what.
The romance (mostly the quick resolution toward the end) might've seemed added as an afterthought with all the other things going on, but it also strangely worked well into the canvass of the plot. I liked the fact the hero and heroine were rather evenly matched, maintaining a nice balance of power without Eva appearing much weaker (unless physically, of course) than Gabriel.
What I liked most was the ghost treasure ship part of the story. It could've been done as a treasure hunt, instead of the way it was presented, but it offered enough mystery and intrigue to keep things lively, and provided that added incentive for the suspense to unfold and the action to kick in.
This was a wonderful mix of well-developed characters, mystery, suspense, and action with that added sprinkle of romance to tie it up nicely.
P.S. And there's another discrepancy in the time continuum of this series. It's set directly after the end of the final battle in The Iron Rose. But The Iron Rose is set in 1614 (it says so in the book) and this one (it's in the first sentence of the prologue!) in 1623. Something doesn't add up.