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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


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Books for Adults - Fiction

The Redemption                    The Reliance                    Surrender the Dawn                    The Ransom

The Reckoning           Charity's Cross

Cover Art: The Reckoning
The Reckoning
By MaryLu Tyndall
Ransom Press, 2015, ebook ISBN 978-0-9908723-4-4, $4.99
Print ISBN 978-0-9908723-5-1, $13.88

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How did life get turned so upside down? Morgan Shaw needs life to be predictable, to make sense, and to unfold according to plan. It’s how she deals with her anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her mom keeps telling her to trust God, yet pops pills to get through the day. Her father, an alcoholic, worships money and power – the two items that can fix any problem. Except they can’t. Not now. Not after the oncologist tells Morgan she has only a few more months to live. She’s only twenty-four, and God has abandoned her. She won’t be one of the less than thirty percent who survive liver cancer.

Life can’t possibly become more chaotic. But it does. After dragging her to a tall ship festival, her boyfriend dumps her. Then her girlfriend insists they go aboard the Reckoning, a replica of a real pirate ship. The minute her feet touch the deck, Morgan becomes queasy, a sure indication that seasickness intends to make her day even crummier than it already is. Still she follows the tour guide into the captain’s cabin where he talks about Rowan Dutton, the notorious and cruel pirate captain whose portrait hangs on the wall. A closet artist herself, Morgan is drawn to the seventeenth-century oil painting. The only thing known about the mysterious artist is the initials LM.

When Morgan emerges from the cabin, she discovers her ex-boyfriend is aboard with a new girl on his arm. Unable to bear the humiliation, Morgan hides in the ship’s hold where she discovers an amulet. Only the sound of cannons firing draws her topside, and once there, she discovers she’s far out at sea on a ship full of pirates who are attacking a French merchantman. On the quarterdeck is a man who’s the spitting image of Captain Dutton. How she came to be here, she has no idea. What she does know is that her father must be behind the whole charade. True to form he wields his power and money to convince her she’s not dying and that everything will be all right.

What is a scantily-dressed female doing on his ship? And who the heck allowed her on board? Rowan Dutton hasn’t the answer to either question, but he’s determined to find the answers. Not only does her presence divert his men’s attention away from their prey, allowing the French merchantman to flee from the pirates, but she has the temerity to talk back to and defy him. As much as she vexes him – especially when she insists he take her back to a Spanish city called San Diego, which he’s never heard of, and uses strange words he can’t decipher – Rowan also finds her fascinating. Even though he normally only associates with married ladies whose husbands are conveniently absent. When he discovers Morgan can decode the map to Roche Brasiliano’s buried treasure, he orders her to do so. She refuses, so he imprisons her in the hold. Maybe the rats, darkness, and bilge water will convince her to change her mind.

He doesn’t really like abusing her this way, but he needs the money. He planned to purloin it from the French ship, which he’d been chasing for two years, until Morgan intruded. Without the treasure, he can never repay his twin sister, and he must atone for leaving her destitute and alone in Port Royal shortly before the earthquake struck two years ago. Only then will he be able to retire from piracy and prove to his dead father that he can be a respectable and responsible member of society.

Since Morgan refuses to do his bidding, Rowan goes to Tortuga to track down a man who supposedly knows the map’s secret. He leaves her under the watchful eye of a trusted officer and friend, but that man has other plans. He wants Rowan and the Reckoning to join with William Bloodmoon in an attack on the Spanish treasure fleet sailing from Nombre de Dios. After Rowan nixes the idea of working with the sadistic and treacherous Bloodmoon, the trusted officer betrays Rowan. The only man who might be able to save him is the legendary Pirate Earl, who just happens to be his brother-in-law, and Morgan must help convince him that Rowan is worth saving.

The keyword for The Reckoning, the fifth title in Tyndall’s Legacy of the King’s Pirates series, is trust – specifically, trust in God. The inspirational theme is strong throughout this time-travel romance, which reunites characters from earlier books, including Lord Munthrope/the Pirate Earl and his father, Captain Edmund Merrick, pirate hunter and missionary. His wife, Lady Charlisse, asks the one question that sums up my astonishment when I realized just who the hero is: “By all that is Holy, how did you ever fall in love with Rowan Dutton?”

I never equated the hero of The Reckoning with the drunk and scheming brother of Julianna in the previous title, The Ransom. I admit that I much preferred this Rowan to that one, but I would have liked to learn more about how he became the pirate that he is in this latest book in the series.

Some might think Morgan’s disbelief in being transported back to 1694 won’t work for as long as it does, but it’s totally plausible based on her experiences in life so far. It also adds touches of humor that help to lighten the story when it most needs it. Having read some of Tyndall’s earlier books, I didn’t expect this historical romance to open in present day, but I can’t imagine it working any other way. As in all such love stories, there’s a pivotal moment when the hero and heroine seem to resolve their conflicts to live happily together only to have that long-sought-after moment snatched away from them, and the author adeptly handles both this pinnacle and its resolution to show how Morgan comes to trust in God, spicing both with poignant tidbits that summon tears and smiles.



Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar

Cover Art: The Redemption
The Redemption
by M. L. Tyndall
Barbour, 2006
ISBN 1-59789-359-5, $9.97

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With her mother’s death, Lady Charlisse Bristol endures years of abuse at the hands of her uncle, a person of some note in the Anglican Church. His teachings and “instruction” destroy her faith in God, for how could He ever love someone as bad as her? Only one person might offer her the love she searches for – her father, a man she’s never met. She knows him only through conversations with her mother, but he offers Charlisse hope. Determined to find him, she books passage on a vessel bound for Jamaica. A vicious storm impedes her journey. She is the only one who survives, but life on a deserted island isn’t as appealing as one might expect. After months of loneliness, bitten by bugs, and living in filth, she waits to die.

Edmund Merrick has one goal in life – to bring Edward the Terrible, the worst of all pirates, to justice. Edmund once served as Edward’s second in command, but a drunken visit to a church, where he repented his sins and sought redemption through Christ, brought Edmund from the brink of despair. Before he can hunt down Edward, though, he stumbles upon an island where a bedraggled woman, delirious with fever, stumbles into his camp. While he nurses her to health, he realizes he must safeguard her from his men. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love with Charlisse, and when she reveals why she has come to the Caribbean, Edmund must decide whether love or justice is more important.

The Redemption is a rousing pirate adventure filled with sea battles, chases, arrests, and betrayal. M. L. Tyndall expertly interweaves history with fiction to create a spellbinding tale any lover of pirate romance will enjoy. Although there are a couple of minor historical errors – such as flying the Jolly Roger before it appeared – these in no way detract from the story. The inspirational message never intrudes, and the manner in which various characters find redemption makes for a compelling story. Once you lift the lid on this treasure chest, you will never regret the journey upon which you sail back to the pirate haven of Port Royal in 1665. The Redemption is perfect for a stormy day when the fire crackles in the hearth and you wish only to be stranded on a tropical island with a handsome pirate.

Meet the author

Book Review Copyright ©2006 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: Reliance
The Reliance
by M. L. Tyndall
Barbour, 2006
ISBN 978-1-59789-360-2, $9.97

Marriage agrees with Edmund Merrick, and he thanks the Lord every day for bringing Charlisse into his life. No longer a pirate, he now hunts them, and his travels take him to Porto Bello. Life is idyllic, until pirates – led by Henry Morgan – attack the Panamanian city and Merrick and Charlisse must escape the bloody onslaught. They seek refuge in a small Catholic church along with several orphans, but Merrick must go back to help a friend. No sooner does he leave the church than it blows up, killing Charlisse and devastating Merrick. Unable to cope, he drinks himself into oblivion and ventures into the dangerous streets and taverns of Tortuga in search of Morgan, whom he holds responsible for Charlisse’s death. He abandons his faith and makes a pact with the devil – a bloodthirsty, demented pirate named Collier.

Merrick’s loyal companions take his ship and sail for Port Royal, hoping to convince the preacher to come and save Merrick from himself. Instead, they encounter Charlisse – not dead, but held captive by her husband’s arch enemy, Kent – and another captive, Lady Isabel. After a narrow escape, Charlisse – with Isabel in tow – joins her husband’s crew and assumes command. Despite not having everyone’s support, she inflicts severe damage to Kent’s vessel before going in search of her wayward husband. The night she finds him in a tavern in Tortuga, a buxom lady sits on his lap.

Has Charlisse lost Merrick forever? How can he break his pact with the devil and cease being a pirate forever? And what of Kent? Will he truly stop hunting Charlisse, especially since Isabel has escaped his clutches? To learn the answers, one must read The Reliance, the sequel to The Redemption. Ms. Tyndall adeptly interweaves history and romance with fiction and religion into a world peopled with nasty pirates, jealous men, and greedy devils. Unlike the first book, here the inspirational message intrudes into the story a few times, but it remains as compelling an adventure as the original. Her depiction of Tortuga and buccaneer raids on Spanish towns is spot on, and readers will find themselves peering around to make certain they’re still safe at home, rather than in the seventeenth century.

Meet the author
 

Book Review Copyright ©2007 Cindy Vallar


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Cover Art:
                Surrender the Dawn
Surrender the Dawn
By MaryLu Tyndall
Barbour, 2011, $12.99
Trade Paperback ISBN 978-1-60260-167-3
E-book ISBN 978-1-60742-546-5
Cassandra Channing often finds herself at odds with societal norms, and March 26, 1814, is no different. She wants to purchase shares in a privateering venture, but no one takes her seriously. Just one successful voyage would sustain her family and prove that women can succeed in business, rather than simply being housewives and mothers. The last thing she wants is to heed her mother’s wishes and marry a man Cassandra can’t abide. But the only person who accepts her money is Luke Heaton, a seafaring scoundrel with a penchant for drink and gambling. With her family on the brink of destitution, she invests all their funds in Heaton’s vessel.
 
Luke’s an excellent seaman and privateer, but his vices get him into trouble. The moment he saves Cassandra from thugs, his heart is lost, but she’s a treasure he can never attain. No one is more surprised than he when she invests in his ship, and her trust compels him to strive for success. But Luke battles inner demons and harbors a secret that threatens to sink him.
 
The first voyage succeeds beyond Cassandra’s hopes, and she sees Luke in a new light. As she falls in love with him, she begins to suspect that all isn’t as it appears. She took a big risk trusting him and to insure that he does not sabotage her future in the privateering trade, she becomes a stowaway. But her presence on the schooner endangers Luke, the crew, herself, and her country.
 
Centered around the British attack on Fort McHenry*, this historical romance unfolds primarily in Baltimore, Maryland, although there are a few scenes at sea. Placing trust in the Lord is a major theme, and while more intense than in some of Tyndall’s other books, it is never intrusive. She spins a tale of hope, betrayal, trickery, friendship, love, honor, guilt, and loyalty that captivates the reader and transports them back to witness a profound moment in American history. Although the final book in the Surrender to Destiny series, Surrender the Dawn works beautifully as a stand-alone book. Those who dare to join Cassandra and Luke on this adventure will enjoy the journey and the history.
 
*During the War of 1812, the British considered Baltimore a nest of pirates because some of the fastest and most famous privateers of the war were built in the Fells Point shipyards there. Fort McHenry was the scene of an overnight bombardment where the British hoped to force an American surrender that would permit them to sail straight into the heart of the city. But when dawn came, the Stars and Stripes still flew. One of the Americans who witnessed the bombardment while on board a British warship was Francis Scott Key, who was so inspired by the sight of Old Glory still waving that he penned the poem that eventually became the country’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
 
Review Copyrighted ©2011 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: The Ransom
The Ransom
By MaryLu Tyndall
MaryLu Tyndall Books, 2014, ISBN 978-0-9910921-2-3, $14.48
e-Book ISN 978-0-9910921-3-0, $5.99

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21 March 1692
Seventy-nine days until the earthquake . . .
The last place Juliana Dutton should visit, especially after dark, is a dockside tavern in Port Royal, Jamaica. Unlike others of her station, however, she refuses to abandon her friend Abilene, who has fallen on hard times. A resolute Juliana pushes aside her niggling second thoughts and steps into the den of inequity, where pirates and other ne’er-do-wells sate their hunger for drink and debauchery. God will protect her, but His guardian angel turns out to also be a scoundrel, albeit one who speaks and acts like a gentleman – at least where she’s concerned. While grateful for the Pirate Earl’s assistance, she’s dismayed to discover she’s attracted to this rogue who knows not only her name, but also where she lives.

With her father ailing and her brother a drunkard who enjoys gambling, Juliana must run the family business. She has the necessary acumen, but her father believes she is trying to steal the company from him. Nevertheless she stealthily oversees the business, doing whatever she must to keep her father’s clients from learning the truth. For if they did, they would take their business elsewhere, rather than deal with a woman, and the loss of income would ensure that she would become as desperate and destitute as Abilene or the orphans whom she visits.

To further complicate her life, she must maintain her social life, attending soirees and making believe she hasn’t a care in the world. Her brother’s answer is to assist the unrelenting Captain Nichols in his pursuit of Juliana. He might be handsome and have a noble pedigree and wealth, but she can’t abide the man. When he learns of her encounter with the Pirate Earl, he admonishes her in front of her friends and vows to discuss the matter with her father. She can’t allow that to happen, but she has no way of stopping him from carrying out his threat and uncovering the truth.

As if aware of her dire predicament, the foppish and dainty Lord Alexander Munthrope, who decks himself out with ribbons and lace, intervenes. After escorting her to her home, he proposes a plan that would aid him in satisfying his father’s demand to choose a wife while keeping Nichols away from her. The moment Juliana agrees to the preposterous engagement, she doubts the wisdom of her decision, but Alex, who has worshipped her from afar, isn’t about to let her elude him. Although the plan succeeds, it engenders an enemy, for if Nichols can’t have Juliana, no one will. He suspects this relative newcomer to Jamaica isn’t quite whom he seems to be, and when he learns that Alex’s father, the Earl of Clarendon, was once a pirate, Nichols is determined to ferret out the truth.

The Ransom is a deftly spun tale of masquerade, redemption, and forgiveness. Tyndall recreates the pirate haven with such realism that it’s as if it rises from its watery grave to show readers why it was once deemed “the Sodom of the New World.” It’s been awhile since her last pirate tale, and this voyage far surpasses the adventure, romance, and spiritual journeys in the previous titles of this series. She paints her characters with such vividness and detail that they come to life, pulling readers into the midst of their lives so we walk beside them through all the dark intrigue and dazzling gaiety. And when the inevitable occurs, we experience their terror, suffering, and salvation. The Ransom is a journey not soon forgotten and one we never want to end.

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Review Copyrighted ©2014 Cindy Vallar

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Cover
                Art: Charity's Cross
Charity’s Cross
By MaryLu Tyndall

Ransom Press, 2016, e-book ISBN 978-0-9971671-0-8, $4.95

print ISBN 978-0-9971671-1-5, $11.95

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Sing a song of sixpence
Pocket full of rye
Four-and-twenty black birds baked in a pie . . .

For two years, the nursery rhyme has provided twenty-five-year-old Charity Westcott with her only safe haven from her abusive husband. But it provides little solace this night – not after she kills her husband trying to protect her unborn child. The façade Lord Villemont projected to the world was far different from the brutality she’s endured, and no one will believe it was self-defense. If she can just get to Charles Town, South Carolina, her family will help her disappear. The closest she can get, though, is Naussau and so she boards the only ship sailing on the evening tide.

Charles, the new Lord Villemont, has no intention of allowing his sister-in-law to escape punishment for her crime. He just misses her in Portsmouth, and he’s already waiting for her when the vessel she’s on arrives in the Bahamas. But when he gets aboard, she’s disappeared. He circulates reward posters and anxiously waits for someone to betray her whereabouts.

Charity is appalled to find that Charles is also in Nassau. Taking only her jewels, she slips over the side of the ship into the harbor. She’ll swim ashore, exchange her jewels for cash, and book passage on a ship to South Carolina. Unfortunately, her plans go awry when a concerned gentleman witnesses her fall and jumps in to rescue her. The more she protests, the more attention she draws from the watching crowd. At the first opportunity, she disentangles herself from her knight in wet clothes and escapes, only to discover she no longer has the jewels. Then she sees her likeness drawn on the wanted poster and she desperately seeks out her rescuer.

Elias Dutton, reformed pirate turned preacher, is miffed when the beautiful mermaid leaves without even a thank you. Yet he can’t waste time looking for someone who should not be alone in this town, which was only recently civilized once Governor Woodes Rogers arrived and threw out the pirates. Elias promised his parents he would hasten to Barbados to help his sister, and he fervently prays he’s not too late. Getting the merchant captain to take him there, however, proves impossible until his ungrateful mermaid reappears, pretending to be his wife. Never able to resist a woman in need, Elias goes along with the charade.

Charity has no idea that her little lie means she will have to share the same cabin as Elias. She has no patience for his preaching – God abandoned her years ago – and she’s vowed to never trust another man. Until Elias assumes command and protects her and the ship from being captured by the pirate Charles Vane. Then Elias rescues her after she’s accused of stealing a horse and is kidnapped by cannibals. But one falsehood becomes a tangled web of more lies, and no matter how much she’s attracted to Elias, he deserves an honest woman, not a pregnant murderess.

Tyndall spins a riveting tale of betrayal, violence, trust, and honesty in this latest inspirational pirate romance. She vividly recreates Caribbean locales as they were in 1718, while the depth of her characters conveys just how complex we humans are. She mixes serious subjects with light humor in situations that are realistically portrayed, while seamlessly weaving religion into the story so it never intrudes and always shows the power of faith and prayer. Charity and Elias capture readers’ hearts with sincerity, smiles, and tears, while secrets, jealousy, and anger provide formidable foes for the duo to overcome.


 
Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar

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