Thursday, 22 August 2013

Smuggler's Kiss - Marie-Louise Jensen

Marie-Louise Jensen has been a favourite historical author of mine for a few years after I was blown away by The Lady in the Tower and The Girl in the Mask. She's also lovely on Twitter (although that does not interrupt my opinion of this book). A friend of mine in the blogging world read this and told me I needed to read it. I find good historical fiction can be quite hard to come by now (I guess I'm more critical) but I know I'll always find a brilliant, absorbing historical novel in Jensen.

Synopsis: Isabelle is rescued from drowning in the sea by a group of men who she finds out are smugglers. To Isabelle - a lady from a wealthy family - smugglers are dangerous and deadly. However, without escape on the ship, she soon finds excitement in deceiving the king's men and her loyalties changing as she becomes friends with the smugglers, especially one in particular. Isabelle doesn't want to return to her old life but she has to keep the truth from the smugglers in order to stay aboard.

Review: I'm a great lover of historical fiction especially if the author is British and even more when it's this writer. I find historical fiction can either be the kind that draws you in, keeps you wondering and then spits you out at the end - much like Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle (review) was. Or they can be the fun kind that is just a lovely, relaxing read. Which is where this book falls.

Isabelle is a character which it is incredibly hard to like on the first page and I think that's why it took me a while to get into the story. She's so spoilt and selfish and SO WHINY. I was thinking at the beginning that I wouldn't like this book is she was going to be like this THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH but gladly, the book also shows her journey into learning about what it is like to live in poverty. This made her so much more likeable as the novel continues until the conclusion where I felt so much for Isabelle's situation. It's great to see this feisty and strong side to her personality flourish throughout as she adjusts.

One thing I really liked about this book was that the romance didn't dominate. I'm one that admits that I love a to dabble in a bit of historical romance but sometimes it can be too much, sometimes too unrealistic. This book is about the romance that evolves but it's also about status, class and the friendships and rivalries that form out of them. It's clear early on that she has a soft spot for Will, a younger smuggler who is a little different from the rest and keeps disappearing for a day or so. It was the mysteries behind Will and Isabelle's past that kept me reading, wanting to know the events that happened to lead both these characters to the smuggler's ship. 

I did really enjoy reading this book, it's not the best from Marie-Louise Jensen but still shows how great an author she is in the YA historical genre. It is full of details from the period as well as moments of high tension mixed with a few moments to make you smile.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 304
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Challenges: Historical Fiction, BBC

Related Reviews:
The Lady in the Tower - Marie-Louise Jensen
The Disgrace of Kitty Grey - Mary Hooper
Vice & Virtue - Veronica Bennett

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