Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Mistress of the Sea Review

Mistress of the Seas
Jenny Barden

Publisher: Ebury

Mistress Cooksley may be a wealthy merchant's daughter, but she blushes at my words and meets my eyes look for look. Yet I cannot hope to court her without fortune, and a dalliance with a pretty maid will not hinder me from my path. Captain Drake's endeavour might bring me gold, but I, Will Doonan, will have my revenge. 
The Spaniards captured my brother and have likely tortured and killed him. For God and St George, we'll strike at the dogs and see justice done. I thought I'd left Mistress Cooksley behind to gamble everything and follow Drake, and here she is playing the boy at the ends of the world. She's a fool with a heart as brave as any man's. Yet her presence here could be the ruin of us all...

Ellyn Cooksley is fed up of everyone expecting her to choose between two very boring and dull suitors and get married. Especially when the only man who makes her heart flutter is the frustrating Will Doonan, who has just signed up with Sir Francis Drake to find Spanish gold in the New World. So she sneaks aboard Drake’s ship dressed as a boy, not expecting to find herself so far from all she knows amongst pirates, escaped slaves, and the Spanish...

It’s a pleasure to find a historical fiction novel set in Tudor times that doesn’t focus on royalty and the English court. Not that the court hi-jinks aren’t fascinating but variety is the spice of life! Ellyn is the daughter of a merchant trader so has a slight advantage in that she has options in who she can marry but the limits of class at the time still means she can’t follow her heart. So instead she follows her father to sea and finds herself in the Spanish Caribbean.

I have mixed thoughts about this story...I liked Ellyn as a leading lady – she had quick wit and an independence that was unusual in that day and age. However, after a spirited start she spends a lot of time waiting for Will to come and rescue her. Will I had plenty of issues with as he never really put Ellyn first – he was not much of a hero to her really. It’s difficult to fully enjoy a historical romance if you don’t like one of the leading characters.

The story of Drake’s adventures in the Caribbean is fascinating and I really liked the battles and adventures they have - in fact I wish a lot more time had been spent on that rather descriptions of Ellyn’s days on various islands. There was a lot of waiting especially as the story takes place over three years and that slowed down the pace. However, the atmosphere and historical detail is vibrant and exhilarating and I would interesting in the next book Jenny Barden writes!

Recommended for fans of Philippa Gregory and Anne O’Brien. 7 out of 10


  1. Oh this sounds like a good historical fiction. I also love fearless women in this time period although I do think her waiting to be rescued would bother me as well. Not sure I'd love Will, but I think I may like this book!

  2. I want her dress! :D Ha enough for me