Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - FictionIvory Dawn Demons & Pearls Jaded Tides Amber Wake
After Spaniards raid Charles Towne, a fortified port, Ivory teaches her cousins how to defend themselves and their home, which is in a more vulnerable location. Six armed pirates force them to utilize these skills. Miranda, Cass, and Keara do so from within the house, but Ivory sneaks up on one marauder and slits his throat with the razor she always carries. Four others die in the attack, but one escapes. Ivory knows it’s only a matter of time before he returns with the rest of the crew. The girls are left with only one option: kill the pirates. If they don’t, the men will beat and rape the girls.
Hard-headed and strong-willed – not to mention mouthy – Ivory is determined to survive. Her cousins might enjoy their peaceful, safe existence raising chickens and growing vegetables, but she wants more out of life. Perhaps the pirates offer her that chance. Does she possess sufficient skill and ingenuity to best their captain? Even if she does, dare she trust him to abide by the terms of the wager?
Ivory Dawn, a short novella, serves as the prequel to Demons & Pearls, the first book in The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales series. This fast-paced and realistic story takes place during the Golden Age of Piracy, in spite of a strong heroine who seems able to do outstanding things. The bargain Ivory offers is an intriguing one, which provides a perfect lead-in for this band of female warriors’ next adventure. Readers who begin with this novella will be eager to continue reading about their trials, tribulations, and loves.
Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar
Murdering the captain when at sea and on a ship crowded with sixty pirates? Not the wisest move Ivory Shepard makes. Prone to acting first and considering consequences later tends to get her into trouble, particularly this time. But she has good reason – preventing the slaughter of innocent men – and she’s a pirate – or so the captain led her to believe. She may think she’s as good a scurvy dog as the rest, but most of the pirates believe a woman is good for only one thing . . . and it ain’t being a pirate!
Only when confronted by Quartermaster Willy McCormack, who’s glad to be rid of Captain Barclay, does Ivory discover there’s a difference between reality and what she believes is true. Barclay promised to keep her and her cousins – Cassandra, Miranda, and Keara – alive and unharmed and deliver them to Kingston, Jamaica. In actuality, the pirates are taking them to Port Royal to be sold to the highest bidders. McCormack – who never approved kidnapping and auctioning lovely, untouched, young women to lusty, and sometimes brutal, rogues – offers to shelter and feed Ivory and her cousins until he can arrange for Razz Bergman to secretly ferry them to safety.
Unbeknownst to McCormack his wife is in cahoots with Barclay. His murder only makes her more determined to continue selling those in her care. She feigns concern for Ivory and her cousins, providing them with clothing, shelter, and food. This time around, she’s chosen some very unsavory pirates as the purchasers for Ivory and her cousins. Once arrangements are made and they “disappear”, she’ll tell her husband they simply ran away.
Never one to wait around and let others arrange her life, Ivory disguises herself as a man to venture into Port Royal to find someone willing to take them to Kingston or another island to live. Razz sees through her disguise, but is intrigued by her desire to play a man. As they become acquainted, their attraction to one another grows. Together they formulate a plan, which goes awry when Razz’s boat is burned, she’s kidnapped, and the nasty pirates planning to buy Ivory and her cousins arrive in Port Royal.
This first book in this Golden Age of Piracy series is a riveting tale that takes no prisoners. From first page to last, Barnett keeps readers perched on the edge of their seats with barely sufficient time to catch their breath before the roller coaster crests each successively higher pinnacle. With a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping climax and poignant interludes of romance, Demons & Pearls is a rousing swashbuckler sure to please any pirate fan.
Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar
By P. S. Bartlett
CreateSpace, 2015, e-book, $2.99
Print ISBN 978-1517263928, $15.99
After a bloody battle at sea against unsavory pirates, Ivory Shepard and Captain Rasmus Bergman return to Port Royal. While they and the crew repair the ship, Ivory and Razz also explore their blossoming love. Before long, he asks her to be his wife, and reluctantly agrees that she can go to sea with him and the other pirates as long as she learns some doctoring skills. He also has her help the cook, all to keep her from harm. But best laid plans rarely unfold as expected, especially where Ivory – and her pirate persona Ivan Razor – are concerned.
Ivory is determined to pursue the pirates who stole young girls from their homes and sold them to others to use as they wish. The log of Captain Barclay – one of the leaders of this smuggling ring and the man who brought Ivory and her cousins to Jamaica – contains information about the ships and the girls. Ivory and Razz’s first target is the Virginia Belle, but capturing her, subduing her crew, and rescuing the girls requires stealth, sly thinking, and a bit of luck.
Jaded Tides, the sequel to Demons & Pearls, is an intricately woven tale of romance, jealousy, and betrayal. Bartlett never whitewashes the brutal reality of living in an age when pirates prey on the innocent. She deftly shows Ivory’s growing maturity and her struggle to come to terms with the hardest lesson of all: she can’t save everyone. Both the subject matter and one blatant scene make this a story for mature readers.
Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar
Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling
By P. S. Bartlett and Ronovan Hester
CreateSpace, 2016, ISBN 978-1523721252, $12.99
Also available as an e-book, $2.99
In a London tavern in 1705, Captain Gabriel Wallace and Lieutenant Miles Jacobs intervene when an admiral attempts to kill his wife’s paramour. Gabriel prevents this, but someone stabs the admiral and Gabriel must face an Admiralty court of inquiry. The verdict, while acknowledging both his good intentions and his loyal service to the Crown, cashiers him from the Royal Navy. But the admiral’s friends aren’t satisfied and hatch a plot to destroy Gabriel. Not only do they connive to bring about his eventual execution, but they also kidnap his younger brother and set his house aflame with him in it.
Miles and another lieutenant rescue Gabriel and his brother and, having nowhere else to turn, they head for the Majesty’s Venture, Gabriel’s former vessel. While others see the crew as hard-headed and undisciplined, Gabriel realizes just how loyal his men are when they decide to “retire” from the navy and abscond with their ship. First, though, they have to escape the harbor and the naval vessel pursuing them.
Never one for idleness, Gabriel didn’t waste his time after being relieved of his command and waiting for his trial. He uncovered interesting details about the admiral and his friends, hypocritical men who claimed allegiance to the Crown but stole from it to line their own purses. He and his crew become pirates with a purpose – to bring about the downfall of his enemies and reveal their secrets. His insistence on keeping his plans to himself, rather than sharing them with Miles, puts a strain on their friendship. Sooner or later, Miles must decide whether to stand with Gabriel or not, and Gabriel is uncertain which way Miles will go.
Like undulating waves, Amber’s Wake is a tale of non-stop action and heart-thudding thrills: storms at sea, pirates, and narrow escapes from their hunters (former friends and colleagues). The characters are well-drawn and, although the reasons behind Miles’s hesitancy and Gabriel’s reluctance to share could be stronger, they quickly snare readers into caring about what happens to them. Readers familiar with the other books in the Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales series will enjoy this one, which explores Rasmus Bergman’s past, and look forward to future exploits with Gabriel and his men.
Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar
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