Discerning Grace (The White Sails Series Book 1)

Written by Emma Lombard
Review by Cindy Vallar

In May 1826, the last person Grace Baxter will wed is the beady-eyed Lord Silverton, but he assumes a promise to wed equates to permission to attack her. Unwilling to remain in London, she surreptitiously appropriates clothing from her childhood friend and joins the crew of a navy ship bound for the other side of the world. Little does she realize the danger her actions bring upon her friend or that Lord Silverton always gets what he wants.

With his captain ailing, Lieutenant Seamus Fitzwilliam commands H.M.S. Discerning on her way to Tierra del Fuego on a mapping expedition. When an insolent crewman is punished, Seamus is aghast to discover that the boy is really a girl and, knowing her, he vows to protect her. Doing so aboard a ship proves to be more daunting than he expects. Especially since Grace is determined to do what she wants. It isn’t long before they’re at loggerheads—one more complication on top of his command, a strange sail, and angry natives.

This first book of The White Sails trilogy is about unforeseen consequences. Written for women seeking naval adventure, Discerning Grace provides a different perspective from most, especially those written by men. Lombard ably showcases how a woman might carry off her disguise and her research is spot-on. Once Grace’s secret is discovered, there are times when her naivety doesn’t work since she has spent months as a crewman and knows how a navy ship is run. It’s also a bit of a stretch to believe that Seamus will resign his commission and abandon his command after Grace’s abduction. Even so, there’s plenty of intrigue, abuse, adventure, and romance to keep readers turning pages.