Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: Blackwell's Paradise by V.E. Ulett


Relive the pleasure of falling into the past in Volume II of Blackwell’s Adventures.

The repercussions of a court martial and the ill-will of powerful men at the Admiralty pursue Royal Navy captain James Blackwell into the Pacific, where danger lurks around every coral reef. Even if Captain Blackwell and Mercedes survive the venture into the world of early nineteenth century exploration, can they emerge unchanged with their love intact. The mission to the Great South Sea will test their loyalties and strength, and define the characters of Captain Blackwell and his lady in Blackwell’s Paradise.

Old Salt Press | January 2014 | 300 pages 

My Review

Blackwell's Paradise is the second installment in V.E. Ulett's Captain Blackwell series.  At the heart of this series, which is set primarily on the high seas in the early 19th century, is Royal Navy Captain James Blackwell and his wife Mercedes.   In Blackwell's Paradise, Captain Blackwell, his crew, and Mercedes find themselves headed for the Pacific on a mission of exploration.  But as Blackwell's ship approaches the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), an ill-fated mishap has disastrous consequences for both Blackwell and Mercedes, testing their love and resolve, and putting Blackwell's mission in jeopardy.

As was evident in the series' first novel, Captain Blackwell's Prize (click here to read my review), V.E. Ulett is clearly at home writing about 19th century nautical life.  While there is considerable attention paid to detailing the activities involved with running and serving on a ship of war,  Ulett never overwhelms the reader with nautical jargon.  As a result, this is a novel that can be enjoyed by readers already familiar with nautical historical fiction, as well as by those brand new to the genre.   Ulett's characters and prose feel authentic, helping to convey a strong sense of both time and place.   While Captain Blackwell and Mercedes form the core of this novel, Ulett has once again created a solid cast of supporting characters, some of whom carry over from Captain Blackwell's Prize.  

While the characters and plot are engaging, one of my favourite things about Blackwell's Paradise is its setting.  A good deal of this novel is set on the Sandwich Islands, and Ulett does a great job conveying the customs, beliefs and politics of the Islands and its peoples.  While not featured prominently, King Kamehameha has an important role in the novel, and I was intrigued by his quest to control the whole of the Islands.  

Overall, Blackwell's Paradise is an entertaining and educational novel, one that is sure to appeal to fans of nautical historical fiction.  Although Blackwell's Prize can be read as a stand alone novel, I recommend reading Captain Blackwell's Prize first. 

I'm looking forward to finding out what adventures Captain Blackwell and Mercedes embark upon next! 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of Blackwell's Paradise from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

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