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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
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Books for Adults - Fiction

Cover Art: Fortune's
Fortune’s Whelp
By Benerson Little
Penmore Press, 2015, ISBN 978-1-942756-60-6, $19.50
e-book ISBN 978-1-942756-61-3, $6.00

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 After a two-year hiatus – following charges of piracy for which he was acquitted – Captain Edward MacNaughton wants nothing to jeopardize his plans to obtain a new privateering commission. But fortune is a fickle mistress. His quiet evening with a friend in a tavern ends in a duel after he is accosted by a jealous fool who won’t back down. Successful in the affair, Edward leaves Bristol before the sheriff learns the particulars of what happened. He is bound for Ireland to gain financial backing for his venture from a friend and to deliver secret letters to a lord’s contacts. Off Kinsale, the ship encounters French privateers and only through Edward’s experience and fortune does the vessel escape capture.
Ashore in Ireland, Edward should feel safe, but the opposite is true. As each day passes, the sense of being under constant watch grows. There are whispers of Jacobite spies, but who might be one? Jane Hardy, the Dutch widow with whom he has romantic liaisons? Molly O’Meary, the niece of his friend? An Irish smuggler and intriguer known as Michael O’Neal? Or someone else entirely? Edward isn’t certain, but when rapparees (Irish bandits) try to take the letters he carries, he begins to suspect Molly is in league with the Jacobites. On his guard and heavily armed, Edward thwarts the attempt and discovers one rapparee has dropped coded correspondence. When Edward deciphers them, he realizes supporters of the exiled James II plan to assassinate King William. Not knowing who to trust, Edward takes the information back to England himself. But there are those who will stop at nothing to prevent him from delivering the letters to the king.

Being a gentleman-adventurer with a varied career as a buccaneer, privateer, naval officer, dragoon, hussar, fencing master, duelist, and lawyer, Edward is the epitome of the swashbuckling hero found in historical adventures popular eighty to 150 years ago. He is an intelligent and expert swordsman of great courage, who fights for noble causes. Little strives for authenticity in his writing, and his research using seventeenth-century documents, his naval expertise, and his being a fencing master allow him to craft a tale that transports readers back to England and Ireland in 1696 through the use of period dialogue and vivid description. He deftly weaves history into this fictional tale, and pirate aficionados are treated to piratical tidbits that also help to place the story in the period. Readers even get to meet Henry Every and there is a subtle reference to either Henry Pitman or his fictional counterpart, Peter Blood. Intrigue abounds throughout Fortune’s Whelp and it shines as a grand adventure. Edward MacNaughton deservedly joins the ranks of such swashbuckling legends as Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood, Johnston McCulley’s Zorro, and Alexander Dumas’s Musketeers.

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