First off, ignore the cover. This can hardly be called a romance, let alone a bodice ripper. I think there are two chaste kisses in the whole book. Yes, TWO!. No, three but we don't count her nasty husband's kiss. OK! Now that we've got that out of the way, lets talk about the book itself...
I love Madeleine Brent! She (who was actually a he) puts the reader right there in the story and from page one you feel invested in the characters. And then the adventure and locations, you never 'stay put' in a M.B. book, youre always seeing new places and cultures. (If you like Anne Maybury, MMKaye, Victoria Holt etc you will love Madeleine Brent). In this case, the story starts off in Jamaica...
The beginning is a bit sordid, in that Emma marries a man who is a horrid beast who abuses her. When the abuse culminates during a hurricane and her actual life is in danger she manages to run away with a half chinese man (former servant, like a father to her) on his sail/steam boat. They make it look as though they die in the storm and then basically change their identities and wander the islands for three years. Emma is incognito as 'the coolie's woman', speaking creole pidgen and diving for lobsters etc. Love her pidgen!!
Without giving the plot away, she ends up in England and finally in Jamaica again. There is danger at home, danger at sea, and finally danger under the sea....
Why 4 stars?
I thought the middle of the story dragged a bit. The author allows us to see the peacefulness her life became at the juncture but I found it a bit dull.
Also, her husband at the beginning was such a jerk (think Dragonwyck but without the charm) that it was hard to enjoy the few chapters where she is married to him, and yet it was needed to lay the 'terror foundation'..
Once she is on the boat with Daniel (the chinese 'father') the excitement really kicks up and later when she comes back to Jamaica, very satisfying exciting ending! M.B. really delivers on her culminating suspense!! I can't tell you, you have to read it!
SEX: None shown to reader but marital rape/abuse was obviously an issue at the beginning.
VIOLENCE: Action violence. Some people get killed.
PROFANITY: a few very mild cusses
MY RATING: PG-13 (because of the marital abuse~ FYI the abuse is behind closed doors but you know what happens)