Runaway teenage sea romance sets steady, predictable course

Runaway teenage sea romance sets steady, predictable course


Smuggler's Kiss Book_L
Photo: Oxford
Smuggler's Kiss
By Marie-Louise Jensen
Published by Oxford University Press
ISBN 978-0192792808

The English Channel - a stretch of water that separates England from France, known as La Manche by the French - has been the scene of many battles, invasions and shipwrecks over many centuries.

In the 18th century, smuggling was big business; many towns and fishing villages along the southern coast of England owed their livelihood to illegal trade.

Sailors would often sail to France and return with ships carrying goods that they import without paying taxes to the king.

The title of Marie-Louise Jensen's historical novel, Smuggler's Kiss, sounds very much like a romantic bodice-ripper; the word "kiss" in the title of a novel will automatically stop any self-respecting male reader from picking it up.

Yet Jensen knows this; her novel is aimed directly at teenage girls who can't resist a good romantic story.

Fifteen year-old Isabelle has run away from home to escape an arranged marriage. She is spoilt and pampered and used to a life of luxury.

It seems there is only one way she can escape the fiance chosen for her by her father. On her wedding night, Isabelle has walked down to the beach, still in her wedding dress.

Striding into the water in a confused state - ready to take her own life - she is saved from a watery grave when a band of smugglers drag her out and onto their boat.

Will the smugglers kill her as a witness when she works out what they are up to?

Most of the crew believe it is bad luck to have a woman on board, and most are in favour of throwing her back into the sea.

However, Isabelle is spared a second dunking because the smugglers realise she can provide excellent cover for their illegal activities when they reach France. She realises she has no choice but to take part in the smugglers' schemes.

Of course, love and adventure are just around the corner. Isabelle quickly finds herself attracted to Will, a handsome young smuggler with secrets of his own ...

Her journey, from spoilt, young woman to smuggler princess, offers no surprises, but Jensen has a rich feel for the period and builds her plot with confidence. She has total belief in the story she is telling.

It doesn't matter that the story creaks in places: it's the romance that will keep you captivated in this gripping tale of love, secrets and smuggling on the high seas.

John Millen can be contacted on

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