It's October 24, 1825 and Cerynis Kendall is once again pretty much alone in the world. Years before her parents had died. Her sole living relative, an academic uncle, turned her guardianship over to a family friend, Lydia Winthrope. Lydia had taken her from South Carolina to London. In London, the young Cerynis had studied painting and was now selling her paintings for more money than she could imagine. But now, 17-year-old Cerynis had to make plans on what next.
Cerynis thought she had time but Lydia's very disagreeable nephew, Alistair Winthorp shows up with an equally disagreeable barrister, Howard Rudd. Filled with greed and armed with an outdated will, they have Cerynis thrown out into the street with nothing but the clothes on her back. The servants who are loyal to Cerynis and dislike Alistair bring her a cloak and agree to hide her paintings and as many of her belongings as they can.
Cerynis heads to the docks to try to find a kind captain who will take her to the Carolinas with a promise of payment when she arrives there. The docks are not a safe place at night and Cerynis knows this. She tries hard to stay hidden until she can find what she thinks is a safe person to stop. A common sailor finds her and luckily takes pity on her. She is taken to the ship of Beauregard Birmingham.
Beauregard Birmingham is from the Carolinas. In fact, Beauregard attended a school that Cerynis's father ran prior to his death. Cerynis had a crush on him back then and Beauregard has fond memories of Cerynis and her family. Now, Beauregard is the captain of his own ship with no desire to settle down any time soon. He enjoys sailing from port to port and experiencing the exotic cultures. He is however heading back to the Carolinas with his hold full of cargo.
Alistair realizing that Cerynis is not going to return back to Lydia's house where he can assume Cerynis's guardianship and learn where all Lydia's assets are, tracks her down to Beauregard's ship. There he tries to remove her until Beauregard steps in. Knowing that legally, he has no standing unless Cerynis and he are married, Beauregard finds a minister to marry them. This marriage is only to get her out of London legally and to protect her from scandal. It is not suppose to be permanent and therefore nothing intimate is suppose to happen. It's a long way from London to the Carolinas by boat.
I enjoyed this book.
You knew that with that long voyage temptation was going to come up over and over until they gave in. Still you had to laugh when Cerynis moves into a small cabin to remove herself from Beauregard and he's not happy. Beauregard has bigger problems than Cerynis moving to another cabin though. Did he dream that he made love with her while he was sick or did he?
The ship's crew wasn't sure about Cerynis sailing with them. You know she was going to win them over and she does. The crew is amazed at Cerynis's drawing talent as she sketches them at work and gives many of them finished paintings!
Once in the Carolinas, Cerynis moves in with her uncle. The agreement with Beauregard is an annulment but neither seems to want to make the first move. Other women are making moves towards Beauregard and Cerynis needs to decide how to handle this! Oh, and could she be pregnant?
The characters are well developed. You could really get into hating Alistair. He was slimy and oily. The will that he was showing everyone was well out dated and he knew it. His character was one you really wouldn't want to meet. On the other hand, Cerynis was likeable. She was hardheaded, talented and with flaws. Cerynis didn't like small, enclosed spaces, which is why when Beauregard moved her to a small cabin, he expected her to back down. Beauregard had flaws too but he had strengths. He wants to right wrongs and wants to be honorable. After all, if he's going to be seen with other women he really should get the annulment papers done, right?
History, hot and sizzling, with passion burning and adventure in every port -- these are the hallmarks of any, Kathleen Woodiwiss novel! The beloved author of the groundbreaking The Flame and the Flower has penned the long-awaited sequel to that breathtaking story of love at sea with The Elusive Flame. Woodiwiss is a better writer now than she was the first time around, and her story soars magnificently. Where The Flame and the Flower ends, the new one begins, but this time the masculine hero is Beau Birmingham, son of Captain Brandon Birmingham and the beautiful Heather Simmons.