1812: With her guardian planning to remarry, 20-year-old Phoebe Dymond finds she is no longer welcome in his Falmouth home and is soon hustled aboard the packet ship Providence bound for Jamaica and an arranged marriage.
A skilled herbalist and midwife, Phoebe clashes with ship's surgeon, Jowan Crossley. But their professional antagonism evolves into mutual respect and a deepening attraction neither dare acknowledge.
Following a skirmish with a French privateer, Providence is robbed of crew by a Royal Navy frigate and arrives to find the island facing a slave revolt and Kingston flooded with French refugees.
Escorted by Jowan to the plantation of which she will be mistress, terrifying events force Phoebe to relinquish all hope of the happiness she has glimpsed. But her journey is not yet over…
Jane Jackson is an award-winning historical author who writes historical romances set in Cornwall during the period between the Napoleonic Wars and the Edwardian era. Containing elements of adventure and intrigue, they explore Cornish life at every level of society and are emotionally-gripping stories of courage, ambition, tragedy, and the redeeming power of love.
“And yours,” she said gently.
“What?” Clearly startled, he frowned. “How did – ? Who – ? What are you talking about?”
Phoebe took a deep breath. “When I was down in the town yesterday I met Mrs Tonkin. She left me in no doubt that there is a strong attachment between you. She also gave me to understand that when you both feel the time is right to marry she would be happy for me to continue living here. And she is sure I would be pleased to repay that generosity by assuming the role of nanny and governess to her three children. Unpaid, naturally.”
“She what?” George Oakes spluttered, flushing. “But I never – I mean I haven’t – She actually said – ? Well! Good God!”
“I have to tell you, uncle, much though I appreciate the offer, I would not be able to accept. The thought of spending all day looking after her appalling children – “
“Phoebe!” A flush darkened his weather-beaten face. “Still, I take your point. They are a bit of a handful. Though that’s hardly surprising when you remember how long they’ve been without a father’s discipline and guidance. Martha’s done her best since Henry died –” As Phoebe’s brows climbed, he raked his hair again. “All right, she’s not as firm with them as she might be. But you would soon –”
“No, uncle,” Phoebe was quietly firm.
He met her gaze. “No. You’re right. You deserve better than that: and better than those two in London. You do have a gift, girl. I don’t know about such things. But Sarah did, God rest her. I miss her something awful, Phoebe. Lord knows I’d do anything to have her back.” His gesture held both anger and helplessness. “I don’t expect you to understand. How could you? But the thing is – You see, I –” His chin jutted defiantly but his gaze pleaded for understanding. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.”
His understanding and his confession brought a lump to Phoebe’s throat. Fifteen years ago she had come to this house, to this family, an orphan. Aunt Sarah had gradually taken the place of a mother she could no longer picture. Uncle George had welcomed her, provided for her. That she had been of less importance to him than his two sons, who treated her with the same careless affection they might have bestowed upon a stray kitten, was perfectly understandable. He had always been kind, and this was the only home she could remember. But it was beginning to look as if she had outstayed her welcome. She forced a smile.
“If you have found happiness again, Uncle George, then I’m glad for you. Naturally you will want – When – I mean, how soon would you like me to leave?”
“Dear life, Phoebe! I’m not about to throw you onto the street. For Heaven’s sake! Do you really think me so shabby?”
“No, of course not. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean – I certainly didn’t intend to – “
“Yes, well, enough said. We’ll talk later.” He cleared his throat. “Now, about dinner tonight. I’ve invited two guests. Mrs Bishop – “
“Not Mrs Tonkin?” Phoebe asked in surprise.
He shook his head, and his face twisted briefly, half-embarrassed half ashamed. “Martha is a good woman, and I’m fond of her. But there was never any question – I don’t know where she got the idea – Truth is, you’re right about those children.“ He shuddered. “I couldn’t be doing with all that again, not at my time of life. No, it’s Carina – Mrs Bishop – who’s coming tonight.” He seemed to find his neckcloth suddenly tight and loosened it with a forefinger. “As you know, she never had children. She told me she used to consider it a great sorrow. But since she – since we – got to know each other,“ he cleared his throat again. “Her thoughts on the matter have changed.”
Astonished, then touched as once again colour darkened his complexion, Phoebe was intrigued.
“Carina says,” he went on, losing the struggle to contain both astonishment and pride, “that without other demands or distractions in her life, she’s free to devote herself entirely to my comfort. Now then, what do you think of that?”
Her uncle’s delight told Phoebe that this was an extremely shrewd woman. Carina Bishop would be aware that William and Joshua, Uncle George’s two sons, both in their early twenties and established in the Packet service, were courting. Both would soon marry and set up their own homes thus removing them permanently from the house.
She would also be aware that Sarah had often stayed through the night with a woman in labour, or at the bedside of a sick child until the crisis passed. Returning home at daybreak Sarah would, if George were home from sea, join him for breakfast where they would talk over the night’s events. Sometimes after he had left for whatever his day held, she retired to bed to catch up on missed sleep. But often there were other clients to see, or remedies to be made. Sarah had shared her time and her energy between her family and those who sought her help.
So with that one statement Carina Bishop had transformed her barrenness – something once perceived as a failure – into an advantage. Also, without a word of criticism against her predecessor she had made it clear that, for her, total fulfilment lay in devoting herself solely to the care of a husband.
After two years’ grieving Uncle George had stopped looking back and was beginning to look forward. Who could blame him for being tempted by such an offer? Phoebe couldn’t. She moistened dry lips.
“You mentioned two guests, uncle. Who is the other?”
“Oh yes.” He cleared his throat again. “His name’s Quintrell, Mr William Quintrell.”
“Is he new to the service?” Phoebe enquired. “I don’t recall hearing his name before.”
Rising from his chair George Oakes turned away. Crushing his cousin’s letter into a ball, he tossed it onto the fire. Phoebe watched the flames lick, then flare brightly as the paper blackened and fell into ash. “He’s not a packet man. He owns a sugar plantation in Jamaica. Built it up from almost nothing so I understand. It’s doing very well now, very well. He’s been out there over thirty years. I first met him about ten years ago when I was on the West Indies run. But he’s not in the best of health. That’s why he’s come back to Cornwall. Well, one of the reasons. Stroke of luck meeting up with him again. In fact, it couldn’t have – Yes, well, I’m sure you’ll like him. A very interesting man.”
Phoebe suspected he’d started to say something different but changed his mind. On his way to the door he glanced back.
“Tell Mrs Lynas to do something special for dinner.”
Phoebe smiled. “Of course.” As he went out she stood perfectly still and drew a slow deep breath. So there it was. Uncle George was going to remarry. And Carina Bishop, with exquisite tact, had made it clear she did not wish to share married life or her new home with an indigent relative.
Returning to the kitchen Phoebe wondered why William Quintrell had been invited to join what was, after all, a family celebration. Still, an additional guest would make an even number at table and ensure conversation remained general. Considering the past hour that was something to be grateful for.
By the end of the book I realized with considerable delight that just about everything I thought was going to happen hadn’t, so read it and see how this sort of thing can go in the right hands. If you used to like romantic suspense and gothics but think they won’t stand up these days then this is for you.
Gripping, enthralling and unputdownable, Dangerous Waters is historical romance at its absolute best!