Followers of the rousing Blackwell adventures will find their bluff hero travelworn and timeworn, a man who has consistently missed out on promotion, and who is laboring under the derisive nickname “Black Savage.” This makes for a compelling start, as the reader’s sympathies are instantly aroused, but then the heartstrings are wrung still further when it is learned that the winsome and infinitely attractive Mercedes, Blackwell’s wife, is gravely ill with breast cancer. There are also the complications brought about by Blackwell’s three children, who are all remarkable, and in the case of young Emma, too beautiful for her own good. The author is not one to pull punches, and so the book whirls into action while the reader is still taking these circumstances on board, starting with an abduction and moving through a dangerous fire-ship action to a strange commission to carry the Hawaiian royals – the ones who have survived their visit to London, that is -- back to Oahu. Naturally, the Hawaiian retinue goes too, including an ill-intentioned minor chief who has his evil eye firmly focused on Emma.
Fans will certainly not be disappointed, and new readers will definitely be intrigued. Ulett’s style contains elements of Georgette Heyer and Virginia Andrews, with a whiff of Patrick O’Brian, but she has her own very original voice. It is her fancy to include real life characters – Lord Cochrane, Anders Sparrman – and era-related references, such as bloomers (from Amelia Bloomer, the women’s rightist), and have fun with them. Because of this, there might be some temptation to pause and google, but I recommend that the reader should keep on turning the pages, as Ulett’s historical universe is not quite real, but a slightly parallel one, instead. She says that she is giving her next book an even more fantastical edge, and I look forward to seeing the end result.