Wendy reviews ‘Sow the Wind’ by M.L. Gray. Published by Carnation Books January 2, 2021, 233 pages.
The year is 1715. King George I sits on the throne of England. Jacobites threaten his rule in the north, while to the West another rebellion has just been quelled. In the Bahamas, another problem is brewing – pirates, gathered in large number, menacing trade and declaring themselves citizens of no nation. The empire stands upon the brink of disaster.
Lieutenant Lawrence Brayden does not mean to be an agitator. His mission in the West Indies is simple – make contact with the pirates and determine whether they can be pacified with the age-old solution to piracy: pardons. It should be simple – right?
Except that on Lawrence’s side stand only his lovers, Thomas and Helena Arundel, and against him stands the might of Edward “Blackbeard” Teach and his Flying Crew – as does the powerful Earl of Camburn, father to Thomas and Lord Proprietor of the island of New Providence.
Lawrence, Thomas, and Helena will need to withstand the might of both England and Nassau, find each other again, and above all – try not to die.
*A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review
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London, December 12th, 1715
They had first met Lawrence at a party like this one, Helena thought idly.
She remembered it well. It had been a warmer night – this one was edging toward being both foggy and cold, and yet the air in the ballroom was stifling. It had been even more so then – a night, she recalled, where she had seen fit to remove herself to the garden to get away from the heat. Even, in fact, as she intended to do now, for there were too many people in the room, too many candles – too many small dogs running about. Alice Courtenay, she thought, truly needed to keep tighter control over her pet, although perhaps she had felt it wiser to allow the animal to roam free than to snap at any more of her guests from impatience at being held. Regardless – Helena lifted her skirt a fraction to avoid unfortunate encounters with feet or dogs and made her way toward the garden, and the breathing space there afforded.
Thomas was still inside. He’d be making trouble ere long, she had no doubt – it was his habit. It had served them well enough, true; she remembered how dashing Lawrence had looked the night she and Thomas had met him, standing before men far higher in rank and station both and still willing to defend Thomas from the consequences of his reckless idealism.
Lawrence had been dashing a month later, too, when they had taken him to bed for the first time. She recalled the way that his thick hair had fallen into her face, and his strong hands. They had sat in Helena and Thomas’s receiving room before, undressing and talking, and then moved to the secluded bower of her bedroom with its blue hangings and its scented sheets. They had lain together with Lawrence in the middle and he moaned the first time Thomas called him beautiful. He had shown his appreciation in… other ways too, ones that she did not dare to contemplate right now for how much she missed him.
There was, she thought, a quality to cold wind. It set the mind aright when all was in freefall – and sharpened the senses. Here, in the chilly night air, she could hear the creaking of the trees, the voices from the ballroom carrying – and the sound of footsteps behind her. She turned.
It was a good thing, she thought, that army men wore red, because, had she seen a flash of navy blue this night, she was not certain she could have kept down the fear that had lodged itself in her stomach any longer. Thomas might have been angry at what had been done to them but Helena? Helena was deeply, deeply frightened, for Lawrence and for Thomas and for herself, and it did not make her task any easier.
“Colonel Maclean,” she greeted, and her visitor stopped in his tracks.
She was, she thought, going to have to make this brief. Thomas could have started three duels in the time she’d left him, let alone one, and the night was cold, but this particular conversation simply could not wait. The Colonel was due to leave for France ere long – a natural consequence, she supposed, of being one of the most celebrated traitors of the decade.
Why I read this book: We received an email asking to be considered for review. Once I read the blurb, I jumped at the chance to read this book.
What a fabulous book to start the new year!
Seriously, this book took me by surprise starting out with a dramatic chase scene on an Island with pirates and a couple at home wondering why their lover was late to return from a Naval assignment.
The drama, intrigue and suspense was non-stop in this story. One of the things I love most about Historical Romance is that there are always sub plots, people using others for their own gain, families or friends who betray and a generous dose of having to follow a certain set of rules for the time period. I completely expect rough waters when reading a historical LGBT themed book but this one was, oh man! Some of the scenes broke my heart and some were hard to read about, but that was what really made this book. Life isn’t all hearts and candy and the same can be said about romance. It’s what’s done with the things life throws at you that makes the journey worthwhile.
The writing was phenomenal. I haven’t read this author before and I didn’t find any other books by her in my search. If this is a debut, then I can’t wait to see what comes next for M.L. Gray. The story flowed and I could tell that she had done her research on the time period and the trope. The characters were easy to connect with and I loved them.
Speaking of the characters… some of them might get a tiny bit broken in this story. They are all forever changed by the end of the book and I might say the same for myself. I’m a bit changed to after reading this fantastic story.
10/10 Pots of Gold or 100% recommended
M.L. Gray lives in Pennsylvania with her two cats. She enjoys archery and learning new languages when she’s not writing.
Publisher twitter: twitter.com/carnationbooks