THE SEA WIFE
Leisure Historical, May 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Sabina Grey is rescued when the Margaret Rose sinks during a storm a thousand miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Following the death of her father, a botanist for the Royal Society, she was invited to travel back to England with the Marchand family, where she plans to find employment as a governess. But Sabina and her rescuer are the only survivors. Clinging to a raft they are plucked from the ocean eighteen hours later, by The Ellen Drury, a merchant ship bound for Plymouth. Her savior is the elusive passenger who kept to himself during their voyage, rarely leaving his cabin.
Myles Dampier, a wealthy nobleman, is returning to England after serving a fourteen-year sentence at a penal colony. When his ship, The Margaret Rose, sinks during a storm, his quick thinking saves him, and the lovely Miss Grey, from drowning. Dampier comes to believe Sabina Grey might serve his plans for revenge once he returns home. Sabina isn't just beautiful and intelligent, she proves she's strong, perhaps strong enough to face the scandal his return is sure to cause. Dampier proposes marriage, using her gratitude for saving her life to push her into accepting. But when his true motives for marrying her become known, it's Sabina's turn to save Myles from himself.
THE SEA WIFE is a tale of gothic proportions, and among the most interesting romance novels I've read in a while. The characters are drawn in such a way to make them a notch above the usual. Myles is a brooding hero who has recently returned to his find his family estate in disrepair, and to execute a long awaited plan for revenge. Myles' motives are shrouded in mystery, and he turns out to be a different man from the one Sabina and this reader expected.
THE SEA WIFE is written entirely from Sabina's point of view, and the reader comes to understand Myles and his motives through Sabina's eyes. Sabina is young and foolishly falls in love with a tortured and dangerous man, but she has the intelligence not to wilt and whine. The dialogue is sharp and witty, and each new revelation brings more questions about what exactly is going on.
A secondary character worthy of mention is the despicable Mr. Marney, Myles' man-of-business. The tension generated by his presence in scenes was chilling and very well done. THE SEA WIFE is the debut novel for Ms. Cook, a high school teacher and librarian from New South Wales. This author is a writer to watch and I look forward to reading her future releases.
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