Desert Isle Keeper
Almost a Scandal
Sally Kent’s brother Richard lets the family tradition down when instead of joining the Navy, he escapes to the clergy. So it’s Sally, who’s got the family saltwater blood, who dons midshipman’s blues and sets sail on the Audacious just before Trafalgar. She finds herself under the supervision of Lieutenant David Colyear, an outstanding officer and old friend of her brothers.
I adore competent, intelligent heroines, Sally’s natural bent for the sea is developed in a way that is completely convincing without seeming over the top. From her love of the wind and water to her ability to manage onboard rivalries, she’s a sailor to the tips of her fingers. I believed completely that if she’d been born today, she’d be an admiral herself. Colyear, or Col, is a solid hero without being incredibly distinctive. This is Sally’s book, and she owns it. (And if you don’t like cross-dressing books, don’t give up on this one. Sally’s disguise isn’t perfect and characters do figure out her deception.)
The book is brimming with naval authenticity without once seeming long-winded, and I’m definitely not one of those people who can read endless passages about pulleys and ropes. The biggest flaw, to me, was an unnecessary land mission lifted from Hornblower and shoehorned in to give Sally and Col time away from scrutiny.
If you are looking for a highly original historical with excellent prose, definitely give this a try.