Love is complicated and the author does a great job of proving that. The prose was poetic and the tension was real. All those thoughts and feelings you had when you found love or thought you found love are here. Scott A. Coleman rated it at Amazon
What the story is about:
Terrified of being sent off to marry a man whom she has never met, Susanna boards The Majestic to travel from England to France.
The attack on The Majestic was planned.
Keeping Susanna was unplanned.
Now, with a lady hidden in his cabin and a crew who is getting restless, William has a lot of decisions to make. Keep her or kill her?
THE SQUARE RIGGER, weighing ninety tonnes, glides across the still waters, towed along with the tides. The waves lap at its sides lazily, while seagulls swoop languidly onto its deck. The sun beats down upon it relentlessly.
Should another boat pass it, it would look like a ghost ship, with not a soul upon its deck. However, should the innocent passer-by, happen to board the ship and proceed down to its lower levels, a sight of great horror would await such a wretched person. For below the deck, there is a sight beyond belief, fifty men and women dead upon their backs.
Their eyes are closed and their hands twined together upon their chest. Here on the lowest deck, where not an inch of light manages to intrude, they lie dead.
SUSANNA BOARDS THE Majestic to travel from England to France. Betrothed to Lord Francois, her heart is heavy, but she knows she has no choice. Her father died and left them with nothing, so now her and her mother’s only salvation is for her to go to France and to marry Lord Francois.
Grace, her servant girl, walks behind her, lifting the back of her dress so it does not drag across the dirty deck. Although Susanna is sure the captain keeps it clean, many feet have trampled mud all over it, from down below on the docks.
The ship is not more than three times as long as it is wide, and Susanna crosses her chest shocked when she walks into her cabin. The cabin is hardly big enough for her to turn about in. There is a single bed pushed against the wall and an armoire against the wall opposite the bed. The space between these two items of furniture is just large enough for her to walk into, the wide expanse of her dress brushing along the sides. The small porthole is in the centre of the wall, and looking out of it, Susanna notices she is level with the water lapping against the side of the boat.
Grace starts to unpack the bags for the long voyage, and they manage to move around each other with great difficulty. Susanna decides to go up onto the deck, while Grace finishes her tasks.
Up on the deck Susanna leans against the railing, looking down with curiosity as she sees the crew untie the anchor, she hears the cries of men as they hoist the sails, and then sadly she watches the coast of England drift away from her. Her mother did not come to bid her farewell, as she has an urgent appointment with her solicitor, which she could not postpone.
When the captain learned Susanna would be travelling with him on the journey across the channel, he invited her for dinner, so when the time drew nearer to dinnertime, Grace helps Susanna to wash from the basin of lukewarm water.
Grace helps her into the heavy dress and then Grace pulls her dress in at the back, while Susanna feels as if she is going to faint. Seated on the little chair in front of the large oval mirror on the wall, Grace starts to brush her hair and tie it up behind her head in the latest style.
Susanna looks unseeing in the mirror and she thinks back to her mother, left behind in England. Her mother will join her within a week or two, so it makes the situation even more daunting for Susanna. The only person she knows, who she can turn to now, is Grace.
Susanna must go to a country where she has never been, to meet a man she has never met.
Uncertainty and fear almost overwhelm her, but then Grace leans across her and lightly touches her shoulder, smiling reassuringly at the reflection of Susanna in the mirror. Susanna returns her smile nervously.
Susanna glances at her own reflection one last time and she fleetingly notices her dark hair tied up into a chignon behind her head. The blue dress she is wearing compliments her clear, sapphire eyes and her naturally rosy cheeks and lips.
She takes a deep breath, as deep as her dress would allow, and then she walks out of the little cabin and along the narrow, dank passageway toward the captain’s great cabin, where he entertains and eats.
The decorations in the great cabin are lavish. A chandelier hangs low over the centre of the large wooden table. Presented in large silver dishes are an assortment of sweet and spicy meats, vegetables and potatoes. They eat from white china, exquisitely decorated with dainty blue Dutch windmills.
The captain is a burly, friendly and slightly effeminate man. He is the opposite of everything Susanna believed a sea captain was and she is pleasantly surprised.
They talk long into the night, about his seafaring adventures. Susanna has always found it easy to relate to strangers and because she is naturally inquisitive, people often share their most intimate secrets with her. She usually allows people to talk, while she listens attentively.
Later he takes her up on the deck. The moon is full, reflecting on the water and Susanna feels as if they are riding on a pathway straight toward the bursting moon. A wintry breeze flirts across her bare shoulders and she feels a chill down her spine.
The galleon suddenly jerks violently to the side, and Susanna hears men screaming and yelling fearfully and panic-stricken.
Surprised Susanna hears the clashing of sword against sword. A moment ago, everything was peaceful and quiet, but now pandemonium reigned upon the deck of The Majestic.
Through her shock, she hears the captain yell with certainty, “Pirates! Go to your room and lock the door. Do not come out until daybreak.”