Orphaned Phoebe Dymond was brought up by an aunt and uncle after the death of her father at the Battle of Yorktown, and her mother’s death on board the ship bringing them back to England from America. From her aunt she learned the skills of herbalism and midwifery. After her aunt’s death her uncle decides to marry again, and clearly there is no place in the new home for Phoebe, who is now twenty. Marriage to a plantation owner’s son in the West Indies is arranged, and she is put aboard the packet ship Providence bound for Jamaica. Here she meets Jowan Crossley, the ship’s surgeon and her appointed guardian during the Atlantic crossing. Inevitably there is a clash of opinion in the treating of the sick and injured between the surgeon and the herbalist, but gradually each begins to understand and appreciate the skill of the other.
Set against the background of piracy on the high seas, the slave trade, and slave revolts on the plantations, the story is lively and the characters believable, but the eventual outcome is never in doubt. I would put Dangerous Waters into the category of a light, enjoyable read to while away the hours on a long journey.