Author: Bobbi Smith ISBN: 9780843960518 11/2008 HISTORICAL Publisher: DORCHESTER
RRAH's THOUGHTS AND PONDERINGS:
Bobbi Smith sets her historical romance, RAPTURE'S TEMPEST, in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1863 during America's Civil War. Jim Westlake and his family run steamboats up and down the Mississippi River and one of their biggest clients is the Union Army, moving gold to the troops for pay. Jim's fiancé and her father have banded together a group of rebel sympathizers who plan to steal the gold and kill Westlake. Delight de Vries has been nursing her ailing mother when her stepfather attempts to drug and rape her. She flees in the guise of a young boy, right into the arms of Captain Westlake when two large ruffians try to rob her on the docks. Westlake takes her on as his cabin boy, and for two blissful weeks he is all hers (though he doesn't see beyond the end of his nose). Will Delight be able to claim him from his deceitful fiancé, before her stepfather has him killed and succeeds in raping her?
Smith takes the phrase "All's fair in love and war" in some interesting directions. She creates many characters who are not what they seem. Of course Delight's boyish getup is obvious, but also Jim's fiancée Annabelle and her father's group keep their Rebel Army tendencies under wraps, as does Captain Wade MacIntosh—a rebel sympathizer in the Union Army Paymaster office. Annabelle is in love with Wade, but they are both sacrificing that love in order to pull off romantic ruses with Jim and his sister Dorie, so that they can get information on gold transport. There are almost too many couples and plot twists to keep up. I did enjoy all of the intrigue and it helped elucidate the struggle many people felt being on the edge of the conflict between the North and the South. It's interesting to think about how difficult it would be to tell which civilian was on which side.
Although there are quite a few love and fight scenes, none of them are too graphic. Even the explosion on Jim's boat seems tame in comparison to other books I've read. It isn't that these parts are entirely sanitized, but they do lack a certain grittiness.
RAPTURE'S TEMPEST is a fairly engaging romance, backed with a good sense of the Civil War. Readers who enjoy a fast-paced story will certainly like this.