This is a wonderfully complex tale of deception and love set in 17th century in the Restoration period when Charles II ruled England.
Lady Summer St. Catherine is an innocent, but not very lady-like. She was raised on the Cornish coast with her younger brother, Spencer (nicknamed Spider). Their mother is dead and their father is a wastrel, who spends all their money and all his time in London. The two are left quite alone and cannot afford food, much less a servant. When Summer and Spider stumble into a smuggling opportunity, they take advantage of it in order to survive.
Soon after, their father dies and Summer goes to London to stay with their aunt (a wonderful character). There, Summer learns her father has mortgaged away their beloved home, Roseland. Her aunt, who is teaching her to be a lady, convinces her the way out of her troubles is to marry a wealthy man. Summer takes on the role of a lady and sets her cap for the neighboring Cornish lord, Ruark Helford, a friend of the king. She manages to win Ruark’s affections and both fall in love. Ruark has no idea his new bride is a smuggler and when she confesses, his violent temper destroys their relationship. But Ruark’s younger brother, Rory, a pirate, will come to Summer’s rescue providing her all the love she can no longer have from Ruark.
Henley weaves an intriguing story of love and deception in an interesting time in the history of England. And she does it so well. She includes many rich historical details of the court of Charles II, including some infamous characters and lots of steamy love scenes. Summer is a clever, courageous heroine who must deal with Ruark’s over-the-top temper—and does. I loved this book.
Henley is a master of historic romance. Few romance writers today bring such rich (and accurate) historical detail to their novels. This is a well-told pirate tale. I highly recommend it.