Sabrina is a lady by day, but by night she rides as a highwayman, trying to keep her family afloat. When she clashes with the Duke of Camareigh, her schemes begin to unravel.
There is not as much swashbuckling adventure as you usually get in these old bodice rippers, but that was more than made up for by the genuinely strong-willed heroine and her rather sensible reasons for clashing with the hero. Lucien is rather arrogant though, and I am not completely convinced he learned his lesson.
The plot was engaging through, though it becomes rather meandering at the end as McBain ticks off various subplots. I liked the style of writing, vivid without becoming overwrought.
Chance The Winds of Fortune – 3.5 stars (Aug 2022)
When Rhea Claire, the daughter of Sabrina and Lucien, is kidnapped, she never imagined she would be shipped off to the colonies and become tangled up with a smuggler.
This is more of that classic bodice ripper formula, complete with sunken treasures and a ship captain hero who also happens to be a marquis – which is useful in this class-conscious era. We also get more of the stereotypically pure, virginal heroine and dark, angry hero – and Rhea is definitely less compelling a heroine than Sabrina.
And the ending! It’s a happily ever after, sure, but it wraps up so fast! I was waiting for more conflict, I suppose, but instead we get an odd time skip that glosses over some fairly important events, as well as plenty of plot unresolved. I get the impression that this book and its sequel had been originally written as one great doorstopper, and then split up.
Despite the plot being somewhat thin – the hero and heroine don’t even meet until halfway through the book! – the engaging writing carries the day, as well as the vivid scenery and the sense of adventure.
Dark Before the Rising Sun – 4 stars (Jan 2024)
Rhea Claire and Dante might have uncovered sunken treasure, gotten married, and returned in triumph to England, but their problems are not completely over quite yet. To reclaim the Leighton family home and achieve their happy ending, they’ll have to tangle with smugglers, spurned lovers, and murder accusations.
This is the last book in the Dominick trilogy, but it follows the couple from the previous book and resolves the remaining plotlines opened there. The writing is atmospheric, and I admired how realistic characters were – especially those who could have been written off as one-note antagonists, like Bess Seacombe. Rhea Claire and Dante too, though they conform to stock tropes, are written complex and full of life.
I was surprised by the minimal amount of angst considering how heavily the author foreshadowed drama, though I did not mind it. However, I did wish the action would have picked up a little earlier – the climax comes in the last fifty pages or so of this otherwise leisurely tome, which leaves not much time to wrap up everyone’s happy endings.