This is one of my favorite romances set on the high seas with a daring sea captain and a very worthy heroine. It’s a keeper.
The story is centered around two competing shipping companies in Victorian England, and two competing captains (the English Earl, Captain Derek Sutherland, and the American Captain, Jason Lassiter), each of whom must win the Great Race from London to Sydney to survive.
When Lassiter is imprisoned, his daughter, Nicole, who has been raised at sea and can navigate as well as her father, must win the race for him. Nicole cannot resist the handsome Sutherland, who when he first encounters her in a dockside bar, thinks she's a whore. He wants her and then he's lost for her, but circumstances make them enemies. When sabotage of her ship forces her to join Sutherland on his ship for the rest of the race, her spirit and his wall of stone collide; the result is a fast-paced romance that grabs you.
There are many things I can praise Kresley Cole for in her writing, all of which are present in this novel: she gives the reader a real historic setting--London and a major sea race in1856; she weaves wonderfully colorful characters into her story so seamlessly the story becomes a tapestry of lives; the story pulls you in from page one--you feel like you're living it and you cannot put it down; the love scenes seem real, each tailored to the character and the story; she lays a good foundation for the emotion displayed; and the plot is interesting with just enough history to ground you in the time.
Cole is simply one of the best romance writers, and even though this was one of her early novels, it is as good as any written today. The sequel is The Price of Pleasure, the story of Derek's brother, Grant, also a sea captain.
For nautical historic romance at it's best, I highly recommend this one!