A Love of Adventure

Written by Joan Druett
Review by Nela Leja

In this 19th-century romance, Druett writes with a keen sense of irony. For example, in the midst of a storm around Cape Horn, a ship’s captain calls out, “How’s she doing?” outside the chamber where his wife has gone into labour. It turns out he is asking about the barometer. Repeatedly, scenes end with a similar wry twist, leaving behind a wistful note before the next scene is skillfully penned, plunging the reader into highly-charged confrontations.

There are plenty of these in this tale of a headstrong heroine (the result of the shipboard childbirth) who slides down ‘sheets’ on her journey overseas to be ‘turned into a lady’ to the stoic hero who struggles to keep his whaling ship financially afloat. Druett’s tone is assured as she presents life aboard a sailing craft at the outset of the California gold rush.

Her research of shipping news bulletins has been thorough, and she displays a mastery of nautical terms. Some typos, unfortunately, and an inconsistency in rendering shanties – otherwise the lay-out is professional, the cover illustration misleadingly serene. On the whole, despite unstinting descriptions of whale hunting, A Love of Adventure delivers all the standards that romance readers expect.