Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Red Siren - M. L. Tyndall

Having seen first-hand the devastation that her older sister's arranged marriage brought on her family, Faith Westcott is desperate not to let the same thing happen to her or her younger siblings. But her sea-faring father is convinced that the way to keep his daughters safe is to marry them off as soon as possible. Faith strikes a deal with him; if she can raise enough money through her "soap making" business to support her and her two sisters, they don't have to find husbands. Little does her father know that Faith is secretly the infamous lady pirate, The Red Siren, and will soon have enough funds to keep her and her sisters safe for a long time. That is, until her father assigns pirate-hunter Dajon White to be their guardian while he's away at sea. Will Dajon discover her secret before she's able to raise enough money? Or will Faith change her mind about swearing off marriage forever?

Putting aside the awkward smile of the cover model, the absurdity of Faith being able to hide her pirating from her entire family, and the fact that the hero is called Dajon - which I swear, I read every single time as "Dijon", like the mustard - I actually ended up loving this book. When I read the blurb and looked at the cheesy cover, I thought that, at best, it would be a bit of fun escapism. But when I started reading, I was hooked and dreaded having to put it down. I'm a massive fan of romance novels, historicals in particular, and although the plot is a bit outlandish this book does have all the great components for a romance novel. And, to be honest, a lot of romances are a bit unbelievable, so why complain about female pirates?

Faith is your typical head-strong, stubborn heroine who thinks that she knows everything about the world and doesn't need a man to hold her back. She's feisty, and while I could never be as confident and brash as she is with her friends and family, I could admire her desire to protect her family and ended up really connecting with her. She's surrounded by a cast of wonderful secondary characters, from her strict father to her younger sisters - one rebellious, one pious - to the servants that try to keep an eye out for the Westcott girls. I'll admit that, after reading a few reviews of this book, I had to admit that the characters were a bit caricatured in places, but I really didn't notice this while I was reading the book, so it didn't spoil my enjoyment at all. I was particularly enraptured by the relationship that Faith had with her sisters, especially the rebellious Hope, who features in the next book in the series. This is a family you can really relate to and have an instant connection with, making you want to sit down and devour all three books in one sitting.

Despite his bizarre and rather distracting name, Dajon is a hero that all women will fall for. He has a troubled past, and is determined not to get involved with women in case he ends up hurting them. He's smarting from issues with a father he can never impress, and hopes that his career will eventually get him the attention he desires. But he also manages to reign Faith in and help her through the difficulties in her life, particularly her relationship with God. Faith and Dajon have great chemistry, the sizzling kind that isn't often found in Christian novels. Nothing inappropriate happens, obviously, but I do appreciate it when authors show the attraction between a couple.

My only real complaint - aside from the cover and Dajon's name - would be about the spiritual aspect of this book. While I enjoy hearing about a character's struggles in their Christian life alongside the regular plot of a novel, I like it to be more subtle and integrated. Here, sometimes it came across as really preachy, and I felt that in places it completely took away from the main plot. In a way, it almost felt like Grace had to get her relationship with God perfect before she was allowed to have a relationship with Dajon, which really isn't how it works in real life. We're all human, we're never perfect when it comes to spiritual matters, and God would never deny us happiness just because we struggle. I wouldn't say that this completely spoiled the book for me, as I loved the rest of it, but the heavy-handed approach to spiritual matters does make me drop a star from it's rating. However, I will say that I loved the section where some sort of spiritual presence protects Hope - very cool, not something you typically read about in romance novels!

While there were a few things that I disliked about this book, I did love reading it and can't wait to get on to the rest in the series. This novel has a wonderful blend of romance, historical detail, adventure and mystery, and is packed full of characters that you won't want to say goodbye to. M. L. Tyndall is definitely an author to look out for. 9/10

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