Fantastic! This was a spellbinding page turner. That’s why you didn’t see me online today. This book took me away! I was caught up in life of Marianne, an ordinary woman who found herself in very extraordinary circumstances. I kept turning the pages as she struggled with herself and with God. She wasn’t hero material, but in order to save her friends and the man she loved, she knew she had to try …
What I really loved about this story was the authentic human weaknesses and doubts that assailed the characters. Impressed into the Royal British navy against their will — even Marianne — they struggle to survive, and they struggle with God. Only Daniel, the youngest among them, holds unwavering faith in God but since he is a mere child, his convictions are dismissed. If you’re looking for a good high seas adventure, this is it!
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Barbour Books (August 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to MaryLu Tyndall and Camy Tang for sending me a review copy.***
M.L. Tyndall, a Christy Award Finalist, and best-selling author of the Legacy of the Kingâ€™s Pirates series is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but expose Christians to their full potential in Christ. For more information on MaryLu and her upcoming releases, please visit her website or her blog.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2010)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
June 18, 1812, Baltimore, Maryland
â€œI would rather boil in oil than marry Noah Brenin.â€ Marianne tossed the silver brooch onto her vanity.
â€œHold your breath and stay still.â€ Rose said from behind her. â€œBesides, it is only an engagement party, not a wedding.â€
â€œBut it is one more step to that horrid destination.â€ Marianne sucked in her breath as Rose threaded the laces through the eyelets on her stays. â€œWhy must women wear these contraptions?â€
â€œTo look our best for the gentlemen in our lives.â€ Cassandra appeared on Marianneâ€™s left, a lacy petticoat flung over one arm. With shimmering auburn hair and eyes the color of emeralds, Cassandra had no trouble looking her best for anyone.
Marianne huffed. â€œI have no care what any gentleman thinks of my appearance.â€
â€œWhich is why you are still unmarried at five and twenty.â€
â€œThen what is your excuse at three and twenty?â€ Marianne arched a brow, to which Cassandra responded with a shrug. â€œI have not yet met a man worthy of me.â€ She grinned.
â€œWhere on earth is your chambermaid?â€ Rose grunted as she squeezed Marianneâ€™s rounded figure into the stays and tied the final lace tight. â€œShouldnâ€™t she be doing this?â€
â€œI dismissed her.â€ Marianne waved a hand through the air. â€œI prefer to dress myself.â€ She hoped they didnâ€™t hear the slight quaver in her voice. If only they knew that her mother had been forced to let the entire staff go and the ones here today were hired just for her betrothal party.
â€œThere.â€ Rose finished her work and stepped back as Marianne took the petticoat from Cassandra and slipped it over her head.
â€œTruth is, I do not wish to marryâ€”ever.â€ Marianne squared her shoulders as Cassandra slid behind her and latched the petticoat hooks.
Rose put her hands on her waist. â€œNoah Brenin is a fine man and a good catch.â€
Marianne gazed at her friend and couldnâ€™t help but smile at the motherly reprimand burning in her crystal blue eyes. Tall and slender, with honey blond hair, Rose turned many a head in Baltimore. Just like Cassandra.
But not like Marianne.
â€œHe is a boor.â€
â€œWhy so low an opinion of him? Havenâ€™t you and he been friends since childhood?â€ Rose cocked her head and gave Marianne a look of censure.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t call it friendship, more like forced acquaintance. And my knowledge of him is precisely why I know him for the churlish clod he is.â€
Gathering a cream-colored silk-embroidered gown from Marianneâ€™s bed, Rose and Cassandra tossed it over her head and assisted her as she wiggled into it. She adjusted the ruffled lace bordering her neckline and circling her puffy sleeves. Cassandra handed her a jeweled belt which Marianne strapped around her high waist and buckled in front. She pressed down the folds of her gown, admiring the pink lace trailing down the front and trimming the hemline. After slipping on her white satin slippers, Marianne moved to the full length looking glass and paused to eye her reflection.
Plain. Despite the shimmering, glamorous dress, plain was the first word that came to her mind. Perhaps because that was how she had always been described. Brown hair, brown eyes, average height, a bit plump. Nothing remarkable, nothing to catch an eye.
Which was precisely why, when the other girls her age were being courted, Marianne had preferred to spend her time caring for her ailing mother and younger sister, particularly after their father died. No whirlwind romances, no soirees, no grand adventures lit up the horizon for her. She had resigned herself to lead an ordinary life. An ordinary life for an ordinary girl.
â€œCome now, it wonâ€™t be so bad.â€ Rose brushed a lock of hair from Marianneâ€™s forehead and then straightened one of the curls dangling about her neck. â€œYou look as though you were attending your own funeral.â€
â€œI dare say I feel as though I am.â€ Tired of staring into the mirror with the hope her reflection would transform into that of a beautiful woman, Marianne turned aside, picked up her silk gloves from the vanity and sauntered toward the window.
â€œI, for one, cannot wait to get married,â€ Rose said. â€œTo the right man of course. He must be a good, honest, god-fearing man. A man who stays home, not a seaman. And he must be agreeable in all respects.â€
â€œWhat about handsome?â€ Cassandra asked, and Marianne turned to see a blush creep up Roseâ€™s neck.
â€œWell, yes, I suppose I would not be opposed to that.â€ Her blue eyes twinkled.
Facing the window, Marianne slid the white gloves onto her hands and tugged them up her arms. Shouts echoed from the street below, accompanied by the clip clop of horse hooves and the grating of carriage wheels. She brushed aside the curtain to see people running to and fro darting between carriages. A warm breeze, heavy with moisture and the smells of the sea, stirred the curtains. A bell rang in the distance, drawing Marianneâ€™s attention to the maze of shipâ€™s masts thrusting into the blue sky like iron bars of a prison. A prison that could not constrain the ravenous blue waters from feeding upon the innocentâ€”an innocent like her father.
Rose and Cassandra joined her at the window as more shouts blasted in with the wind. â€œWhat is all the commotion about?â€ Cassandra pushed back the other side of the curtains.
â€œThere have been rumors that President Madison will soon declare war on Britain,â€ Marianne said.
â€œI hope it doesnâ€™t come to that.â€ Rose peered over Marianneâ€™s shoulder. â€œWar is such horrid business.â€
â€œBut necessary if the British insist on stealing our men from land and sea and impressing them into their Navy.â€ Marianne felt her ire rising. â€œNot to mention how they rouse the Indians to attack us on the frontier.â€
â€œThey want their colonies back, I suppose.â€ Afternoon sunlight set Cassandraâ€™s red hair aflame in ribbons of liquid fire. â€œEngland never was good at losing.â€
â€œWell they canâ€™t have them.â€ Marianneâ€™s voice rose with a determination she felt building within. Though sheâ€™d been born after the Revolution, she had heard the stories of oppression and tyranny enforced upon them by a nation across the seas whose king thought he had the right to dictate laws and taxes without giving the people a voice. But no more. â€œWe won our freedom from them. We are a nation now. A new nation that represents liberty to the entire world.â€
â€œI couldnâ€™t agree more.â€ Cassandra nodded with a smile. â€œPerhaps you should run for mayor?â€
â€œA woman in public office?â€ Marianne chuckled. â€œThat will never happen.â€
The door creaked open, and Marianne turned to see her mother and younger sister slip inside.
Lizzieâ€™s eyes widened and she rushed toward Marianne. â€œYou look so beautiful, Marianne!â€
Kneeling, Marianne embraced her sister. She held her tight and took a big whiff of the lavender soap with which their mother always scrubbed the little girl. â€œThank you, Lizzie. I can always count on you for a compliment.â€
â€œNow, Lizzie, donâ€™t wrinkle your sisterâ€™s dress.â€ Marianneâ€™s mother sank into one of the chairs by the fireplace and winced. The slight reminder of her motherâ€™s pain caused Marianneâ€™s heart to shrink. She squeezed her little sister againâ€”the one beacon of joy in their house these past three years since Father diedâ€”and kissed her on the cheek. â€œYou look very beautiful too.â€
The little girl clutched her skirt and twirled around. â€œDo you really think so?â€ She drew her lips into a pout. â€œBut when can I wear a dress like yours?â€
â€œCome now, Lizzie,â€ Mother said. â€œYou are only six. When you are a grown woman like Marianne, you may wear more elaborate gowns.â€ She gestured toward Rose and Cassandra. â€œLadies, would you take Lizzie downstairs for a moment? I need a word with Marianne.â€
â€œOf course, Mrs. Denton.â€ Rose took Lizzieâ€™s hand. â€œCome along little one.â€
Cassandra followed after them and closed the door.
Marianne sat in the chair beside her mother and gently grasped her hands. She flinched at how cold and moist they were. â€œHow are you feeling, Mama?â€
â€œVery well today, dear.â€ She looked down as if hiding something..
But Marianne didnâ€™t need to look in her motherâ€™s eyes to know she was lying. The sprinkles of perspiration on her forehead, the paleness of her skin, and the tightening of her lips when the pains hit spoke more clearly than any words.
Marianne squeezed her motherâ€™s hands. â€œThe medicaments are not working?â€
â€œThey will work. It takes time.â€ Her mother attempted a smile. â€œBut let us not talk of that now. I have something more important to discuss with you.â€ She released a heavy sigh then lifted her gaze to Marianneâ€™s. Though illness had stolen the glimmer from her eyes, it could not hide the sweet kindness of her soul. â€œYou donâ€™t have to do this, you know.â€
The truth of her words sliced through Marianne. She stared at the floral pattern woven into the carpet. â€œYou know I do.â€
â€œIt isnâ€™t fair of me to ask this of you.â€ Her motherâ€™s voice rang with conviction and deep sorrow.
â€œYou didnâ€™t ask, Mama. I want to do this.â€ A truth followed by a lie. Marianne hoped the good canceled out the bad.
â€œCome now. You cannot fool me.â€ Mama said. â€œI know this is not the match you would choose.â€
Releasing her motherâ€™s hands, Marianne rose from the chair and sauntered toward the window. The rustle of her gown crackled through the air with conviction. â€œIn truth, I would choose no match.â€ She turned and forced a smile. â€œSo if I must marry, why not this man?â€
Her mother gazed at her with such love and sorrow that Marianne felt her heart would burst. Once considered the most beautiful woman in Baltimore, Jane Denton, now withered away with the sickness that robbed her of her glow and luster and stole the fat from her bones, leaving her but a frail skeleton of what she once had been. The physicians had no idea what ailed her save that without the medicaments they administered, she would die a quicker and more painful death.
Tearing her gaze from the tragic vision, Marianne glanced out the window where it seemed as though the approaching evening only heightened the citizensâ€™ agitation. â€œMarrying Noah Brenin will save us. It will save you.â€
â€œBut what of saving you?â€ Her motherâ€™s sweet plea caressed Marianneâ€™s ears, but she forced down the spark of hope that dared to rise at her motherâ€™s question. There was no room for hope now, only necessity.
â€œYou know if we continue as is, all that is left of our fortune will be spent in one year on your medicaments. Then what will we do? Without my dowry, no man will look my way, since that and our good name is all that has caught this particular fish upon the hook.â€ And without a husband to unlock her inheritance, her father had ensured that the seven thousand dollars would remain as far from her reach as if she did not own it at all.
â€œPerhaps you will meet another manâ€”someone you love?â€ Her mother said.
â€œMama, I am five and twenty.â€ Marianne turned and waved her hands over herself. â€œAnd plain to look at.â€ She gave a bitter laugh. â€œDo you see suitors lining up at our door?â€
â€œYou are too beautiful for words, dearest.â€ Her motherâ€™s eyes beamed in adoration. â€œYou just donâ€™t know it yet.â€
Shrugging off her motherâ€™s compliment as the obligation of a parent, Marianne stiffened her back before she attempted to rekindle an argument long since put to death. â€œWe could take whatâ€™s left of our money and fund a privateer, Mama.â€ Marianne glanced out the window at a mob that had formed down the street. â€œWar is certain and our fledgling navy will need all the help it can get.â€
Her motherâ€™s nervous huff drew Marianneâ€™s gaze. â€œIt is far too much of a gamble. And gambling destroys livesâ€â€”a glaze covered her motherâ€™s eyes as she stared into the roomâ€”â€œand families.â€
Marianne grimaced. â€œI am not like Papa. I have heard these privateers can make a fortune while helping to defend our country.â€
A breeze stirred a curled wisp of her motherâ€™s hair as she gazed at Marianne with concern.
Marianne twisted the ring on her finger. â€œDown at the docks, merchantmen are already outfitted their ships as privateers. The call for investors goes out daily.â€ If only she could convince her mother, not only would Marianne not have to marry that clod, Noah, but she could do something to help this great nation of hers.
Her motherâ€™s boney hands perched in her lap began to tremble. â€œWe could lose everything. And what of Lizzie? I could not bare it.â€
Shame drummed upon Marianneâ€™s hopes. She had upset her mother when the doctor strictly instructed her to keep her calm.
â€œPerhaps a trade of some sort?â€ Mama offered. â€œI hear that Mrs. Pickersgill makes a decent living sewing ensigns.â€
A blast of warm wind stirred the gauzy curtains and cooled the perspiration forming on Marianneâ€™s neck. â€œMama you know I have no skills. Iâ€™m not like other ladies. The last gown I attempted to sew fell apart. My cooking would drive the hardiest frontiersman back to the woods, and the pianoforte runs when it sees me coming.â€
Mother chuckled. â€œYou exaggerate, dearest.â€
But Marianne could tell by the look in her motherâ€™s eyes that despite the humorous delivery, her words rang true. Though a governess in her younger years and her mother in her later years had strived to teach Marianne the skills every proper lady should acquire, she had found them nothing but tedious. She possessed no useful skills, no talents. As her father had so often declared before his death. In essence, Marianne had nothing to offer. If her mother would not agree to fund a privateer, Marianne would have to accept her fate in marriage.
â€œIâ€™m an old woman and will die soon anyway,â€ Mama said with a sigh. â€œBut I must ensure you and Lizzie are cared for.â€
Gathering her skirts, Marianne dashed toward her mother and knelt at her feet. â€œYou must never say such a thing.â€
â€œDo not soil your beautiful gown.â€ Her mother smiled and wiped a tear from Marianneâ€™s cheek. â€œPerhaps we should simply trust God with my health and let His will prevail.â€
Marianne laid her head on her motherâ€™s lap like she used to do as a child. She had trusted her father, she had trusted God.
And they had both let her downâ€”her and her mother.
Trust no longer came so easily. â€œI will not let you die, Mother. I cannot.â€ Her eyes burned with tears. â€œAs long as I have my inheritance and a man who is willing to marry me, I promise you will be well cared for. And Lizzie too. That is all that matters, now.â€ Marianne lifted her gaze to her motherâ€™s, feeling strength surge through her.
â€œAnd mark my words, Mama. Nothing will stand in my way. Especially not Noah Brenin.â€