Returning to Spain from the New World, the ship in which Dona Dominica Rada y Sylva and her father sail is captured by English pirate “mad” Sir Nicholas Beauvallet, cut from the same cloth as Sir Francis Drake, scourge of the Spanish Main. The lady and her captor are soon in love and, rather than causing any further harm, Beauvallet sets father and daughter safe ashore in Spain. As the lovers part, the pirate promises to come to Spain to make her his bride within the year, this in the age of Elizabeth, the Armada and Inquisition – no mean feat.
Heyer, with a cue from Jane Austen, invented the ever-popular Regency romance and no one has matched her since. This Harlequin reprint of the deceased writer’s 1929 tale, however, is not her best. She does not translate to the era two hundred years earlier quite so well and, though she uses the language of Shakespeare rather than her more usual cant, Spain sometimes feels like more good ton. The characters, too, lack her usual brilliance. Nevertheless, Heyer does read like a hot knife through butter, with very little to disturb the fantasy.