Dear Mrs. Marshall,
See I’m finally getting around to writing you a letter about the first book of yours I actually read. So, I’m a little backwards! My enjoyment of Smuggler’s Bride did lead me to read your other two books. ;)
Lady Julia Delarue has arrived in Florida to visit her Aunts and Uncles (so her parents think) and to have some adventures as her American mother did after she married Julia’s English father (so Julia thinks). But what she doesn’t count on, as she tries to help solve the mystery of who is using her family’s shipping business to smuggle goods into Florida past the noses of the understaffed and unappreciated fledgling US Revenue Marine (later changed to US Coast Guard), is that she’s going to end up in the Florida piney woods in a cabin with a man she thinks is a smuggler and with whom she knows she’s falling in love.
Rand Washburn doesn’t know quite what to think about this pretty English woman who’s been kidnapped and left at his cabin to help him around the homestead as he recovers from a fever (some of Rand’s friends aren’t too bright). But one thing he does know is that she’s not who she says she is and that he could get used to having her around. What he doesn’t need is her complicating his smuggling enterprise and getting caught spying on him and his contacts necessitating a quick marriage to save her life.
You’ve created two more strong characters who butt heads a lot and scrap to the end but who are a great deal of fun to watch. Rand will come across as an overbearing oaf at times but Julia is strong enough so that he never really steam rolls her. This book should really be read as a farce and not taken too seriously. I keep saying that and hope that I’m viewing this the way you intended. Some of the plot has to be accepted and not looked at too closely but if you’re willing to just roll with it, it’s a lot of fun. Again, I enjoy the wealth of detail about homestead life in Territorial Florida and its history. Some of it could have been blended into the story a little better but it’s not handled that badly.
One thing that does bother me is that late in the game the heroine keeps insisting that the hero has ruined their chance at happiness because he lied to her. Well, she was lying to him all along too but seems to conveniently forget this when it suits her. But you do teach us readers how to cook up a possum so’s to make a man sit up and say howdy! Occasionally my borzoi will catch a possum in our backyard but I don’t think I’m going to try cooking it, though. The prequel to this called Pirate’s Price which is about Julia’s parents. B for you.