Stolen Waters

Written by Beth Andrews
Review by Fiona Lowe

Set in the declining days of the Regency, the tainted hint of decadent decline is startlingly evident in this most unusual Regency novel. The language is as exultantly rich and luxurious as its exotic setting, almost overbearingly so. Do passions really burn this hot, cooler-headed readers might ponder? Maria Alvarez, Spanish refugee of the Napoleonic Wars, finds herself cast adrift on a West Indies island, companion to a rich plantation owner’s new wife. Matthew Romford, in plucking his wife Sarah, admired flower of Bath society, transplants her to his sugar plantation, New Moon. A marriage of convenience on his part, he did not reckon on the unsettling presence of his wife’s Spanish companion. Passions bloom – not always in expected places – and the result? You must discover for yourself.

Does this a Regency with a difference go too far? The characters are curiously unsympathetic. At times the novel over-stretches itself to include, albeit faintly, the familiar conventions of a Regency. Often it reads more like a fervent and somewhat lurid saga than a pleasurable concoction of wit and sophistication. The narrative is most persuasive when it fixes upon the perilous qualities of West Indies life at this period.