The Admiral’s Daughter
It is 1803, and Commander Thomas Kydd’s mission is to patrol home waters in order to suppress the smuggling trade. His friend Renzi joins him as captain’s clerk, also guiding Kydd’s steps in social situations when ashore. His coaching works well enough that Kydd attracts the interest of an admiral’s daughter, Persephone. The relationship develops to the degree that society assumes they will shortly become engaged. Then Kydd’s ship Teazer is damaged, and the ship must remain in an isolated Cornish cove for repairs. Kydd and Renzi lodge with the local squire, who unfortunately has a lovely, shy daughter, Rosalynd, and Kydd is again smitten. Word of his unfaithfulness reaches the admiral, who vows to bring about social and professional ruin for the man who has tarnished his family’s honor.
Fans of fast-paced adventure will get their fill with this book: there are at least four major plot threads. I enjoyed learning about naval lore, some of which this landlubber didn’t “get” when reading sea stories by other authors. There is a nice scene in which a sailor from the Teazer, working undercover to catch the smugglers, learns how difficult a fisherman’s life can be. One example of Stockwin’s humor is particularly appealing: “Commander Kydd, lord of sixteen guns and suzerain of near a hundred men, agreed meekly and followed his sister.”
I have not read other volumes in the series, and felt the lack. A recent tragedy in Renzi’s life is only hinted at, and undoubtedly the back story would have made his and Kydd’s relationship clearer. I was annoyed by the two main characters’ manner of speech: Stockwin renders Kydd’s lower class origins as a profusion of dropped word endings and apostrophes, while the educated Renzi’s conversation borders on the bombastic. Their dialogue got to be a bit tiresome.
Kydd: The Admiral’s Daughter (UK)
357 (US), 352 (UK)