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Overcoming Dangers on Land and Sea - an Editorial Review of "Grace on the Horizon"

Book Blurb:

GRACE ON THE HORIZON is the second full-length novel in The White Sails Series. Grace and Seamus, united by their past experiences, are adrift on a raft of shame in the sea of 1830s London society. After a personal tragedy, Grace’s desperation to leave London forces Seamus to accept a dubious commission on the private explorer, Clover.

With the expedition financed by Colonel Hamilton and his private backers, Seamus is tasked with mapping a round-the-world voyage. But Colonel Hamilton has an additional package that requires delivering—Father Babcock—a priest wanted for murder. The church wants Babcock transported far from England to set up a new mission in South America.

Battling his overprotectiveness, Seamus breaks his oath to always tell Grace the truth and hides Babcock’s identity from her. But the journey aboard the Clover is far from smooth sailing, and Grace suspects a saboteur. Trapped within the ship’s confines, she must learn to forgive her husband's well-intentioned duplicity and determine who wishes them harm—because now she also has her unborn child to protect.

Is it an aggrieved member of the Admiralty who believes Seamus disgraced the service by resigning his command to chase after Grace? Perhaps Grace’s father, Lord Flint, seeking revenge against her for ruining the family name? Or a jealous suitor determined to ruin the life Grace is trying to build with Seamus?

From the damp cobbled streets of London, around the freezing stormy tip of Cape Horn, and into the scorching dusty bush of New Holland, GRACE ON THE HORIZON promises another adventure on the high seas, bursting with action and suspense. It is historical women's fiction that will appeal to fans of the strong female protagonists.

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Author Bio:

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick.

Discerning Grace, is the first book in The White Sails Series.

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Editorial Review:

Grace on the Horizon by Emma Lombard takes you on a wild, emotional journey through skirmishes aboard the ship, the Clover, battles on foreign soil, survival amidst tumultuous storms as well as unadulterated joy as the relationship between Grace and Seamus remains steadfast through it all. Seamus is captain of the ship, the Clover, which he commandeers along with his vivacious wife, Grace. While Seamus loves the sea and the adventure, he is also pressured to carry out this sea voyage due to his diminishing financial status. Colonel Hamilton is sponsoring this trip in order for Seamus to create maps of unchartered territory. Despite the good fortune of having a sponsor for the voyage, there is something amiss about Colonel Hamilton. Not only does Seamus have an uncomfortable feeling about the man, Hamilton also makes a strange request of him. Seamus is to take Father Babcock, a disgraced priest, on board to help him start his mission anew in foreign land.

Not only does Seamus’s financial status motivate him to take this voyage up, but he also wants to distract his wife, Grace, from a recent traumatic incident. A mysterious man, Silverton, is introduced to readers as a sly, malicious, conniving man who attacked Grace. She believed she killed him when she drove a knife into his stomach. Once she finds out that not only is he alive, but he is in their hometown, London, she is driven to distraction and needs an escape. This is clear from her thoughts in the following passage, “Her memories scratched the inside of her skull, their sharp claws raking an instant headache across her forehead: the gelatinous press of Silverton crushing the breath from her, the resistance of his flesh as she stabbed the bone knife into his back, and the stink of his putrid odour blending with the iron tang of his blood.” The author truly captures Grace’s fear through her recollections of the horrendous scene. This passage is especially powerful as it stimulates all the senses. Grace’s fear is palpable. Readers can taste the metallic blood on their tongues. They can smell the thick stench of Silverton’s odor. They can feel his weight bearing down on her small body. The author’s vivid descriptions and talent for catapulting readers into the scenes and into the characters emotions, is consistent throughout the book.

However, Grace escapes the dangers of Silverton only to be enveloped by the dangers of the sea. A vicious storm rips through the Clover, killing several of their crew. Readers get a sense of the impending horror through the following description, “The Clover bobbed deliriously in the frothing ocean, spluttering to catch her breath like the near-drowned seamen in the rigging. Seamus was not ready for the next impact and knew his ship was not either. He held his breath and tightened his grip on the helm, tempted to join the inexperienced men who were wailing prayers in despair.”

After surviving the fury of nature, several strange incidents occur. A cat is thrown overboard. When the Clover docks in order to sustain repairs, Grace is attacked by the Constable of the island’s manservant. Once at sea again, Grace is attacked by the cook of the ship and later it is discovered that the anchors of the ship were cut. There is a clear sabotage plot rippling beneath the surface of all the calamitous events, however, readers are left grappling to figure out what it is and who is behind it.

As all these events are taking place, the one unwavering theme throughout the book is the beautiful relationship between Grace and Seamus. Their bond is strong, and readers get the sense that it can weather anything life hurls its way. This is evident as Seamus reveals his feelings toward Grace, “When we speak, it’s as though I’m conversing with my own soul.” His words flowed over her, calming her fears and filling her heart. “I want to be a better man because of you. A better father. Man wasn’t intended to be alone, and I thank Christ everyday for giving me you.”

The subterfuge regarding the ship’s mission as well as the mysterious occurrences are revealed with the confessions of Father Babcock. Seamus realizes Hamilton cannot be trusted which lurches him deeper into the grips of financial ruin. After many years conducting the sea voyage, charting lands, losing men to sickness and battle, navigating foreign rules, and witnessing the birth of three children, Seamus has little to show for it in the end.

Despite the difficulties of life at sea, when the voyage is nearing its end, Grace’s heartfelt words as to how the ship saved her are revealed beautifully, “This ship is my saviour. She’s an extension of my body, and the men are my lifeblood. When everything around us disintegrated and our old life crumbled, this ship and her hands breathed new life into me. They gave me something to live for, to look forward to. Leaving the Clover feels as painful as hacking off my arm with one of Billy’s bone saws – it feels impossible. And I’m afraid.” Grace finds London to be stuffy, pretentious, and repressive. It is nothing like the freedom life at sea brings. Readers can appreciate her adventurous spirit, especially since this was not typical behaviour of women in the 1800’s.

Overall, Grace on the Horizon, is an enjoyable read and would appeal to fellow adventurous souls. While the plot was riveting, action-packed and gripping, just when reaching the end of the book, yet another plot line was unnecessarily introduced. A calamitous event takes place just when readers are getting comfortable in the winding down process. The plot twist and adding another layer of tragedy felt not only unnecessary but jarring as it occurred so near the end of the novel which is typically the section for the falling action. This was especially unsettling as the expectation based on the genre and tone of the book was for it to have a happy ending despite all the trials and tribulations.

Despite this, the author has a talent for exceptional writing as well as drawing the readers into the lives, emotions, and stories of the main characters. The plot keeps readers on tenterhooks with unexpected twists and turns. The witty dialogue between characters as well as brilliant scene setting aids readers in feeling as if they themselves are aboard the ship, swaying back and forth in rhythm with the ocean waves, immersed in the fresh, salty air. It is a beautifully crafted piece of historical fiction, and this reviewer looks forward to reading more of the author’s work.


“Grace on the Horizon” by Emma Lombard receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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