Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Fiction
The new recruits to the Inniskilling Regiment aren’t yet soldiers in Captain James Lockwood’s estimation. Having served for twenty years in His Majesty’s army, he should know. And it is his duty to make certain each becomes the type of soldier who will do his duty and make the rest of the regiment proud. James himself might be English, but he’s served with the Irish regiment a long time and has been married to the lovely Brigid O’Brian Lockwood, herself an Irish Catholic, for twenty-three years.
Brigid came close to losing James five years ago, when he suffered a wound that nearly killed him at Waterloo. She feels he’s given enough for his country, but inevitably duty rears its ugly head and calls him back to service. After six years together, that day arrives with orders for the immediate departure of James and his men for Guyana, where rumors of a slave rebellion mean it will be years before she and James are reunited . . . if he survives. After all, such an assignment is akin to a death sentence. She’s all too aware of how many British soldiers have died because of the diseases that decimate troops assigned to the Caribbean. Still, she is an officer’s wife and a role model for the other regimental wives. Only a few women and children will be permitted to accompany their men overseas, and to show that she understands, she participates in the lottery to decide who goes and who must remain in Ireland.
Her willingness to show kindness and self-sacrifice endears her to the women, and when their hard-earned savings are stolen and they are turned out with nowhere to go, the women and children left behind seek out Brigid. She and her daughter, Cissy, devise a plan that takes advantage of a small hamlet of houses whose inhabitants were turned out for nonpayment of rent. Here the families will reside and work while they wait for their husbands to return. But this is Ireland, a land divided by loyalties and religion. The law and Protestant ministers would punish these indigent families, consigning them to workhouses, which Cissy equates to dens of misery. Some Catholics don’t want them around either. Their husbands are no better than traitors because they wear the red uniforms of English oppressors, and as far as the militant Catholics are concerned, that makes these men’s families traitors too. The White Boys, led by a priest no less, are just the ones to make certain these women and children, including the Lockwoods, pay the price for turning against their own kind.
In the meantime, James must deal with his own struggles. One of his men is a thief. The waters near Guyana are infested with pirates, including a particularly vicious man who adheres to the philosophy that the only good Englishman is a dead one. The colonial governor is accustomed to getting what he wants when he wants it. His fear of reprisals from the slaves, who seek only what the law has promised them, makes him lash out at James. When James refuses to bend to the governor’s will, he earns the lasting enmity of a man determined to destroy James any way he can. The abuse James witnesses and the slaves he meets also make him confront his own conscience.
This immersive third book in the Lockwood series is a tale of prejudice, betrayal, justice, and bigotry. Bois provides stark contrasts of slavery and oppression in ways that make readers react to the injustice meted out to the characters. At the same time, he deftly shows that not all people think and act the same, that there are good and bad people on both sides of the coin. Although soldiers normally fight on land, Lockwood and his men finds themselves waging war on water more than once. The first encounter demonstrates the wiliness necessary to thwart an enemy that is better armed and has larger numbers. The second is an edge-of-your-seat final showdown with a pirate who consummately portrays the viciousness inherent to those who preyed during the nineteenth century.
Review Copyrighted ©2020 Cindy Vallar
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