Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Review: Sandra Jones’ HER WICKED CAPTAIN – A Riverboat Gambling Adventure

The story begins in Missouri in the 1850s with a duel where Rory Campbell, a gambler and steamboat captain, plays second for his employer, Quintus Moreaux, a riverboat gambler and an ruthless, abusive man. Rory has a plan to get free of Moreaux and it involves his childhood friend, Philadelphia (Dell) Samuels, the daughter of Moreaux’s dead wife and her black lover.

Like her mother, Dell has an uncanny ability to read people. Rory wants her to help him win at gambling, earning enough to gain his freedom. To get Dell to go with him, Rory intentionally runs his steamboat aground near where Dell lives with her uncle. Given few options (marrying an old lecher or poverty), Dell accepts his invitation to go to St. Louis where her evil stepfather awaits.

For the first half of the book I did not like Rory and I thought Dell might be a fool, given her dreams of respectability. There was a lot of lusting going on between them and she did end up in his bed. The issue of Dell’s being a mulatto was never dealt with and she pretty much passed for white so I could not tell how important it was to the characters, except for her uncle who would not have a word of it uttered.

It’s a well-written riverboat adventure with great descriptions of card games as Dell uses her talents to probe for the truth of men’s weaknesses. The ending is exciting, too. But underlying it all is a secret involving child sexual abuse that Dell must ferret out. Jones handles it well but the reader should know it’s there.

Buy it on Amazon.

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