Monday 8 November 2021

#BookReview: Grace on the Horizon (The White Sails Series Book 2) by Emma Lombard @LombardEmma

Grace on the Horizon 
(The White Sails Series Book 2)
By Emma Lombard

Publication Date: 14th August 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 406 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction / Regency Romance

GRACE ON THE HORIZON is the second full-length novel in The White Sails Series. Grace and Seamus, united by their past experiences, are adrift on a raft of shame in the sea of 1830s London society. After a personal tragedy, Grace’s desperation to leave London forces Seamus to accept a dubious commission on the private explorer, Clover.

With the expedition financed by Colonel Hamilton and his private backers, Seamus is tasked with mapping a round-the-world voyage. But Colonel Hamilton has an additional package that requires delivering—Father Babcock—a priest wanted for murder. The church wants Babcock transported far from England to set up a new mission in South America.

Battling his overprotectiveness, Seamus breaks his oath to always tell Grace the truth and hides Babcock’s identity from her. But the journey aboard the Clover is far from smooth sailing, and Grace suspects a saboteur. Trapped within the ship’s confines, she must learn to forgive her husband's well-intentioned duplicity and determine who wishes them harm—because now she also has her unborn child to protect.

Is it an aggrieved member of the Admiralty who believes Seamus disgraced the service by resigning his command to chase after Grace? Perhaps Grace’s father, Lord Flint, seeking revenge against her for ruining the family name? Or a jealous suitor determined to ruin the life Grace is trying to build with Seamus?

From the damp cobbled streets of London, around the freezing stormy tip of Cape Horn, and into the scorching dusty bush of New Holland, GRACE ON THE HORIZON promises another adventure on the high seas, bursting with action and suspense.

“This voyage was producing more twists and turns than the hedge maze at Hampton Court Palace!”

But Grace preferred life on board the Clover than having to put up with the gossiping, judgemental and unforgiving society that London offered. With the open sea before her, Grace feels free and with her dashing husband, Captain Seamus Fitzwilliam, by her side, what more could she want?

There was another reason why Grace preferred the open water to the stifling city. To her horror, Grace is informed that the vile and cruel Lord Silverton is still alive. Grace had thought that she had delivered him a fatal blow when he attacked her, but alas, somehow he had survived, and while he lived, London was not a safe place for Grace to be. However, Lord Silverton’s reach is long, and despite Grace’s determination not to think about him, she cannot escape the stark possibility that he may seek her out and have his revenge…

There is something utterly irresistible about a novel that depicts life upon the high seas. The relationship that develops between the crew, the dangers of the open water, and the excitement of discovering and exploring new lands, if done right, always makes for a compelling read. I want to feel the deck move beneath my feet, smell the salt in the air. I want to immerse myself in a world to which is totally foreign to me and I want to come away feeling like I have been on the most amazing of journeys without moving from the comforts of my chair. It is a tall order, especially when I also want the historical setting to paint a picture in my mind that is as authentic as it is telling. Grace on the Horizon (The White Sails Series, Book 2) by Emma Lombard ticks every single box, but what makes it even more enthralling is that the story is told, for the most part, from a woman’s perspective. 

With an impressive sweep of the quill, Lombard has given her readers a story that is next to impossible to put down. This novel was everything that I had hoped it would be, and then some.

The unashamedly brilliant narrative captured my attention from the first sentence and continued to hold it hostage until the very last full stop. The cliff-hanger tension, the non-stop excitement and the vividly drawn picture of life upon the Clover was wonderfully depicted. There are, as to be expected, scoundrels aplenty, some of whom I adored, and others not so much. This is a novel filled with complicated characters, who are not always what they seem to be.

Grace was a character that I really became very fond of in Discerning Grace (The White Sails Series, Book 1). She was young, reckless, but also incredibly endearing. In this novel, Grace is older, not necessarily in years, but most certainly in maturity. She has been abused, beaten and kidnapped, yet through it all, she held on to one thing, hope. Having been disowned by her parents and with her husband’s career in tatters, Grace must find the strength to withstand all the dirty gossip that London’s high society throws her way. However, she is wise enough to know her own truth, and at the end of the day, she knows she cannot defend herself against whispered rumours and lies. When she is given the chance to once again set sail on the high ocean waves with her husband and his rough yet loyal crew, Grace jumps at the chance. It could be argued that by doing so she is running away from her problems, one might even go as far as saying it is a self-imposed exile and to an extent, I think that is one of the reasons the idea of once again sailing around the world is so very appealing to her. Indeed, when the voyage is coming to an end, she has no desire to leave the ship and despairs as she watches the crew return to shore. On the ship, despite all the dangers, she feels safe. The sea is her refuge, and the ship is her home.

The need for adventure runs thickly in Grace’s veins. She is not the kind of woman who would ever be content with afternoon tea and scones! However, the choices she makes, both in London and at sea, mean that her path will never be an easy one. An awful lot happens to Grace in this novel, some of which is good, but there are other things she must endure that are truly horrendous. If it were not for the fast pace of the narrative, Grace’s trials and tribulations would have made for some truly heart-breaking reading, but because everything in this novel happens so fast, there is no time to dwell on the heartache because she is soon running headlong into another dangerous adventure. In fact, danger and peril seem to follow Grace around wherever she goes! I thought Grace’s depiction was fabulously drawn and her character really drove this story forward.

There is quite a cast of colourful characters in this novel and each has their role to play, but little Emily and her pet chicken stole my heart. She is such a little sweetheart and thrives on what she sees as an extended family aboard the ship. I fear that she may well have inherited her parents’ desire for adventure away from the confines of what was considered socially acceptable for the time. I cannot wait to get reacquainted with her in the next book!

The historical setting, as I have already touched upon, has to be commended. Lombard has captured the very essence of this era. The many hours that Lombard dedicated to researching the historical truth can only be guessed at. Lombard has a visceral understanding of not only what makes history worth reading, but also what makes history entertaining.

If you enjoy quality historical women’s fiction, then this novel certainly deserves a place on your bookshelf. Grace on the Horizon (The White Sails Series, Book 2) by Emma Lombard is a riveting story and one that I enjoyed immensely.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick. DISCERNING GRACE, is the first book in The White Sails Series.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx