An Unwilling Alliance: The Copenhagen Campaign, 1807 (The Manxman)

Written by Lynn Bryant
Review by Christine Childs

Lynn Bryant is a British author of historical fiction with a passion for the Napoleonic era. An Unwilling Alliance is the first novel Bryant has written about the Isle of Man, her current home. Set in the early years of the 19th century, it features some of the characters from her Peninsular War Saga series. An Unwilling Alliance can be described as blending the genres of romance and maritime or military history.

The main protagonist is 21-year-old Manx local, Rosheen Crellin, a feisty but socially awkward tomboy. Rosheen’s father wants to marry her off to someone with property and wealth, but she has other ideas. Enter returned local, Captain Hugh Kelly. The path to true love never runs smoothly, of course, and Captain Kelly sets sail for the British invasion of neutral Denmark, a particularly ugly period in English military history. In Copenhagen, he encounters British army Major Paul van Daan, their paths crossing on a number of critical occasions.

In addition to Bryant’s detailed descriptions of the shameful British army and naval activity in Copenhagen, she also gives great insight into the established practice of impressment. Impress gangs were responsible for legally endorsed, forcible indenturing of civilians into military service. Bryant gives us the example of Manx fishermen kidnapped and held against their will by press gangs acting on behalf of the British Royal Navy.

An Unwilling Alliance is an entertaining and thought-provoking read for lovers of historical romance and maritime history, with the landscapes of the Isle of Man and Denmark creating added interest.