Destiny’s Gold (Captain Jane Thorn)

Written by Pamela Grimm
Review by Arleigh Ordoyne

It’s 1820—trade restrictions in the wake of the War of 1812 have ceased, and Napoleon is safely ensconced on the island of St. Helena. The owner of Thorn Shipping of New York has decided to give his niece, Jane, the captaincy of one of their ships, the Destiny, for a transatlantic run carrying a load of sugar from Cuba to Russia. Jane, who has a decade of seafaring experience under her belt, takes leave of the New York Harbor, although with a troublesome, last-minute deckhand aboard. On the voyage to Cuba, and later toward Russia, Jane uncovers a scheme that would threaten her newfound career and stain her family’s good name. She must successfully navigate the maritime industry and the temperamental Atlantic, while protecting her goods, her men, and her own questionable place in the male-dominated enterprise.

The first in a series, this volume introduces a smart, witty protagonist alongside a host of colorful characters. Although at times it borders on eyeroll-inducing romantic angst, there is plenty of action and nautical detail to satiate readers looking for an adventurous tale. It is an especially interesting look at relations between various countries during this era, and additionally the merchant trade that threatens great change with the incoming power of steam versus sails. Savvy Captain Jane Thorn seems to have an abundance of luck on her side, yet there are plenty of loose ends that are sure to present themselves later in the series. Her perfectly-paced story has careful attention to detail, and Grimm has created an intriguing fictional world that, according to the author’s note, is not so implausible as it may seem.