Easily one of my favorite reads of 2014! It's one of those stories your brain doesn't want to "let go of" when you finish and I had a hard time sleeping last night.
Its a little difficult to give a synopsis without telling too much but I'll try my best to give the gist. The quotes I added in my reading updates will give you an idea, too.
When Adrian was a young man of 20 years, he fell head over heels for his distant French cousin Cecile who came to stay in England for the duration of her pregnancy. (The Napoleonic war was going on in France and her husband was fighting.) She was the type of woman every man admires and Adrian was thoroughly besotted. Well, her husband is killed in action and Cecile decides to leave the babies in England and return to France with some men to avenge the death of her husband. (Yes, she's that kind of woman.) Adrian volunteers to be her knight.
That's really just the background to the story so I'm not spoiling anything. When the book opens, we see Adrian, age 40, a recluse in a lighthouse ruin pining for his lost love. Then one night, Cecile's twin daughters arrive on the scene and with them come intrigue, a forbidden romance with a smuggler/ pirate, a treasure of guineas, swashbuckling adventures, murder and tragic love.
Oh I really loved this. The characters are imperfect but hugely likeable (though not all) and human. The descriptions are memorable and the love stories squeeze your heart.
At one point in the book you might be thinking, "Well this is pleasant story but I wonder where we're going with this..." Just keep reading. The plot turns completely around with new developments. How? Well for starters, one day, Adrian's old friend Captain Jack Smith appears at the lighthouse asking Adrian for use of the tunnels and caves under the island ruins for some secret enterprise... and that's all I'm saying.
This is a public domain book and if you get the free kindle version it has the advantage of an internal dictionary. There were quite a few words in here I had never heard of before. But I do like that. I feel like I'm improving my mind ;)
My one criticism is that for the first third of the book there's a lot of switching back and forth in time. But this does eventually come around to the present and move forward.
The last half of the book I had an extremely hard time putting down and I was sad to see it end. But it was very satisfying all the same.