What They Say:
Jamaica 1753. Doug and Nora Fortnam have raised Nora’s illegitimate, mixed-race daughter Deirdre, born from violence, but who has grown up to be a beautiful and headstrong young woman. Despite her past, the stunning Deirdre attracts men wherever she goes, but has turned them all away, finding them wanting. However, when she meets the handsome and kind Dr. Victor Dufresne, who sees beyond her history and heritage, they fall in love and marry, moving to Victor’s modest house in Hispaniola.
In Grand Cayman, Jefe, a young free black man, and Bonnie, an escaped slave, leave home on a pirate ship in search of wealth, freedom and power, renaming themselves Caesar and Bobbie. When Bonnie is injured in battle, she relies on Jefe to find a doctor to save her – without revealing that she is a woman. Their worlds collide when Victor treats Bonnie for her injuries, reluctantly allowing the two black pirates into his home. Deirdre however feels an irresistible and mutual attraction to Jefe, which she finds she cannot fight.
Meanwhile, racial tensions are growing across the island, as white families are being poisoned by their slaves. A rebellion is in motion, led by the mysterious but captivating François Macandal. The rebels are dangerous and brave, feeling angry and mistreated and they are ready for an uprising...
Now, however, Deirdre was hardly paying any attention to her dinner partner and instead only had eyes for Victor. On Quentin's attempts to converse with her, she gave mainly one-syllable answers, if she gave any answers at all, and the young man soon seemed accordingly annoyed. Regardless, Victor behaved impeccably. He noticeably tried to keep from returning Deirdre's looks all too fervidly and concentrated on his conversation with Nora. Their discussion quickly grew very interesting. Nora enjoyed herself at this meal far more than at other parties with her neighbours.
Eventually, the banquet came to an end, the guests strolled over to the ballroom, and Victor turned to Nora with a polite smile.
"Would you care to dance, Mrs. Fortnam? Or …"
He tried not to let it show, but Nora had noticed every stolen glance at Deirdre and how he hardly let Quentin out of his sight for even a moment. He stood to lead her into the ostentatious ballroom, which was connected to the Keensleys' salon.
Nora fanned herself. The state apartments at the Keensleys' home were not designed for the weather in Jamaica – it was already stifling hot and there were surely no open windows …
"No thank you, Monsieur Victor," she warmly declined. "After that meal – which was wonderful, but way too rich – I just need to take a breather. Perhaps I should also save my husband from Lady Warrington. It was not necessarily the most brilliant idea to make her his dinner partner …" This seating arrangement had probably been intended to deter the Fortnams from future parties at the Keensleys', but Nora kept such thoughts to herself. "Look after Deirdre a bit. She also doesn't appear to be all too happy with her cavalier."
She gestured to her daughter, who had just held back a yawn. It was not exactly ladylike behavior and Nora was a little embarrassed for her daughter. Victor laughed with relief.
"Really?" he asked, trying to appear casual. "And here I thought … well, with such close neighbors …" He stopped short. "And the young Lord Keensley has been going to great efforts for her …"
Nora sighed. She had also often thought with Simon that one could overdo it with politeness and restraint.
"Well, then you should go to greater efforts!" she said to Victor unambiguously. "In any case, we don't have very much in common with the Keensleys and Deirdre is absolutely not promised to anyone."
Smiling, she watched as the young doctor excused himself and then hurried over to Deirdre and Quentin. A moment later, the young woman was beaming as she got in line beside Victor among the other dancers in the minuet. Quentin led the blonde girl onto the dance floor – apparently everything was turning out as Lord and Lady Keensley had hoped.
Quentin Keensley was too quick tempered to accept the obvious. No matter how clearly Deirdre made it that he did not possess her favor, the spoiled young man was not ready to give up his courtship so quickly. Over the next few hours, he danced with one young woman after another and laughed and flirted with his partners whenever Deirdre walked past. However, she did not notice her host’s popularity. When she wasn't dancing with Victor, she was chatting with him excitedly. She sipped on a glass of champagne and hung on her cavalier's every word.
Quentin was furious whenever he saw Deirdre's smile. Out of pure frustration, he indulged in the rum punch and then didn't care what kind of scandal he could possibly be causing. He roughly pushed his way between Deirdre and Victor, just as the two had lined up to dance again.
"Now that's enough, Miss Fortnam!" he said decisively. "I asked you for a dance hours ago. It's time!"
Deirdre furrowed her brow. "I can't remember having promised you anything," she replied. "And I have already promised this dance to Monsieur Dufresne."
Quentin turned to Victor and glared at him. "He's had his share of dances already!" he blurted out angrily. "And besides, what sort of behavior is this? To simply show up here and … and steal dances from the best girl, and …"
Victor raised his eyebrows with mock astonishment. "Do you feel robbed by me, Miss Fortnam?" he asked coolly.
Deirdre giggled, tipsy from the champagne. "Not at all, Monsieur Victor. Quite the contrary, I … feel rather fortunate …" She winked at him and curtsied.
"There you have it," Victor said. "And now please let us dance – you see, they are waiting for us."
Island of the Red Mangroves by Sarah Lark is published 23rd July by Bastei Entertainment, price £3.99 in eBook.
About The Author:
Sarah Lark was born in the Ruhr region of Germany in 1958. She studied psychology at university and wrote her doctorate on the subject of “daydreams.” She has worked as a primary school teacher and as a tour guide – a job which led her to discover and fall in love with New Zealand, where her bestselling In the Land of the Long White Cloud trilogy is set. She has also written many books about horses for adults and children, and has been nominated for the Deutsche Jugendbuchpreis, Germany’s distinguished prize for best children’s book. A regular presence on the German bestseller list, Sarah currently lives with four dogs and a cat on her farm in Almería, Spain, where she cares for retired horses.
Praise for Island of a Thousand Springs:
“If you’re looking for a novel to get completely and utterly lost in…Island of a Thousand Springs will absorb you and take you on a shocking, saddening, yet inspiring adventure, an adventure which I can’t wait to continue…” Bookaholic Confessions
“If you are a fan of Lesley Pearse, you will certainly love this wonderful, exciting novel.” Shaz’s Book Blog