A punchy, dialogue-driven pirate tale with a dash of romance.


A historical novel offers a swashbuckling adventure set in Jacobean times.

The latest work from Murray (The Roman General, 2015, etc.) takes place at a little-marked turning point in English history. When King James succeeded the aged Queen Elizabeth I to the English throne, he revamped his country’s relations with the kingdom of Spain—including revoking the letters of marque that had allowed the famed Elizabethan “sea dogs” to roam the Spanish shipping lanes committing state-sanctioned piracy at will. The new arrangement cuts these privateers adrift by suddenly making them criminals in the eyes of English law, and nobody is more directly affected than former naval terror James Blackburn (“Blackburn’s maritime skills, sharp instincts, intelligence, expertise and natural leadership ability made him a successful commander and privateer”). He’s now castigated by the same court officials whose pockets he once lined with stolen treasure. One such official, Sir Robert Cecil, scorns such “masterless men, beholden to no one but themselves…hardened, fearless men who lived by instinct, driven onto enemy decks by ambition and the right of pillage.” And the course of the novel bears this out: Blackburn, now a renegade, continues his pirate activities, pursued by both his own countrymen and their erstwhile enemies. Murray laces the narrative—smoothly and expertly paced—with plenty of period research and nautical details of the type that will make fans of Patrick O’Brian and C.S. Forester feel at home, and her scene-setting is lean but effective throughout. All of the cerebral book’s secondary characters are fleshed out with as much texture as Blackburn himself, particularly the scene-stealing Melisande, the strong-willed daughter of a French sea captain. The high-tempered dialogue between Melisande and Blackburn in the wake of the pirate’s capture of her father’s ship at sea is the highlight of the book, providing Murray with an excellent natural device for digging deeper into the buccaneer’s motives and his battered nobility. The rousing novel doesn’t shy away from violence as Blackburn and his men slowly build a pirate fleet out of seized vessels. Although some of these sea action scenes can feel a bit rote, the enthusiasm of the storytelling throughout remains infectious.

A punchy, dialogue-driven pirate tale with a dash of romance.

Pub Date: April 1, 2016


Page Count: 326

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.


When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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