Title: The Cornubian
Author: Julie Spiller
Release Date: April 9th
Publisher: Britain’s Next Bestseller
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance
When infamous smuggler Martin MacBride returns to Cornwall after escaping slavery in Algiers, he finds his wife and child have died. Fuelled by anger, the heartbroken smuggler vows to avenge their deaths by killing his hated foe, John Cardinham. However, Cardinham is riddled with a hatred of his own. He is convinced that his fiancée, beautiful local inn-keeper Josephine Bryant, is in love with MacBride, and intends to see the smuggler brought to justice at an appointment with the gallows. The locals of Cornwall pull together for their hero in a formidable force against the revenue, and Cardinham, finding he has his work cut out, hires the services of notorious privateer, Jose Sparky Vaquero, who proceeds to double-cross all concerned. Thus begins a twisting, turning journey of blackmail, obsession and suspicion. But when the stakes are high and the pressure is on, mistakes are easily made, and underestimation can prove to be a costly one.
A dark shadow appeared in the doorway. She became aware of another presence and turned abruptly.
“Another gift from MacBride?” The voice was gruff, heavy with a sneer. It was Cardinham, her lover.
“It’s for our wedding, John.”
“It’s to win your affection.” Josephine turned back to the mirror, re-adjusting the lace. “He’s happily married, as we are both very much aware.” Her calmness incensed him further. Within a moment he was beside her, digging his fingers into her shoulders as he turned her to face him, his bloodstone ring burning her skin.
“For pity’s sake, Jo, open your eyes! These are smuggled goods!” She pulled away from him, her eyes flashing defiantly.
“Can you afford such a fine lace?” John Cardinham fell silent. His mouth formed a thin line. He took a step away from her, then, as if changing his mind, lunged back and, wrenching the lace from her grasp, ripped it in two. “He’ll be swinging from the gallows before the next moon!” he shouted over his shoulder as he swept out of the door, slamming it shut behind him.
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There is no getting away from the fact that The Cornubian is far removed from the usual genre of book I read and for a time this concerned me; what if I didn’t like the story or the author’s style of writing? Within the first chapter I knew my fears were misplaced because Julie Spiller has obviously researched this period of history thoroughly and is able to transport us to 18th century Cornwall with her meticulous attention to detail.
The success of a novel like The Cornubian depends upon the personalities we meet and their histories, and for me one of the most enchanting aspects of the story is Julie Spiller’s talented characterisation. MacBride and Cardinham play the roles of hero and villain with Sparky precariously walking the line between the two. Each character, whether they are essential to the plot or stand on the periphery, has an individual speech pattern and disposition, meaning that even in chapters with a large amount of dialogue, we are never confused. Whilst Sparky has a dry sense of humor, Cardinham is aggressive and disrespectful. As the protagonist, MacBride is someone we feel empathy for and though we may not always agree with his actions, his story is still compelling.
However, The Cornubian not only has dominant male characters. Julie Spiller also examines the varying roles of women in this time. There are the fishermen’s wives who distract the authorities from the town’s illegal activities; Craven, the captain of her own pirate ship and Jo, the owner of Pensilva Cellars, a local tavern. Although Jo is manipulated by Cardinham this does not mean she is weak and perhaps the finest display of her bravery is revealed near the end of the book, when she acts to protect those she loves and succeeds in accomplishing a task which the men have failed to do.
Julie Spiller’s novel is full of twists and turns, not unlike the smuggler’s caves, and though the plot is intricate it is still totally gripping. Though this is not a book I would have ordinarily picked up, I am so glad I have read it and know that there is a huge audience for this historical romance.
About the Author
Julie lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She has diplomas in Child Psychology and Child and Adolescent Counselling, as well as qualifications in writing stories for children. She has been a foster mother and is now a full-time step-mother. Her life has had it’s dramas, but her mantra is to follow her heart.