The Spithead Nymph

Written by Jan Needle
Review by Cindy Vallar

Instead of finding himself before a court-martial for smuggling, Midshipman William Bentley is promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the Biter. Although Captain Richard Kaye helped Bentley to escape imprisonment or worse, Bentley holds Kaye in low regard. They’re bound for Jamaica to protect the colonists, but getting there proves difficult since murderers and pressed men aboard the Biter stir up trouble at every opportunity.

As a prostitute, Deb Tomelty knows their love is ill suited, but she searches for Bentley anyway. At every turn she misses him, and is abused and misused. She ends up aboard a ship bound for Jamaica where she is sold as an indentured servant to the devil himself.

This is the third novel in the Sea Officer William Bentley series. It provides a realistic portrayal of eighteenth-century life, but there is nothing in the text to alert the reader to a specific time period. Readers unacquainted with naval terminology and the practice of impressment will find some chapters, particularly the first one, unfathomable. Although much of the story takes place in England prior to the Biter’s sailing, this gritty and violent novel will appeal to those with an interest in the British Royal Navy during the Age of Sail.