The second book in the Hurst Amulet series, published May 2011.
New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins spins an unforgettable tale of a captivating beauty with a secret, a dashing sea captain on a treacherous mission - and the priceless artefact that seals their destiny
.A DESPERATE BEAUTY
Despite fame and countless admirers, actress Marcail Beauchamp has never forgotten William Hurst, the audacious seafarer she once loved . . . and lost. Now, forced by a mysterious blackmailer who threatens her family, she must steal an ancient onyx box from the one man she's vowed never to see again.
A BOLD ADVENTURER
To save his brother from a ruthless abductor, William must deliver the artefact as ransom. He's stunned when Marcail, more lovely than ever, suddenly appears on his ship. But when she drugs him and steals the box, his fury knows no bounds.
THE TREASURE EVERYONE WANTS
William pursues Marcail, but too late: she has already delivered the box. The estranged lovers realize they must work together - both to regain the artefact that could mean life or death to his family and to destroy the mysterious blackmailer's power over her family. Thus begins a high-stakes quest through the reaches of Scotland, a quest that stirs up long-forgotten memories and an unquenchable passion. . . .
William Hurst, captain of the Sea Witch, is ready to set sail, and bring the artefact his sister has recovered to Africa, to free their brother Michael, who is kept prisoner in exchange for the onyx box. To his surprise, his former lover and famous actress Marcail Beauchamp is waiting in his cabin for him. She needs his help. But remembering how she betrayed her love, and not wanting to hear her out, he tells her to leave. Asking for a last drink, she drugs him, and then steals the box.
But William needs that box, so once he is recovered, he follows her. He knows where she lives, so he sets a Bow Street Runner on her trail. He wants to know where she goes, and take back the onyx box.
Marcail and William were very much in love some years ago. Both young, and Marcail just making a name for herself as an actress. William was away at sea a lot of the time. And an actress in that time period, got propositioned by all the young bucks, and sometimes even royalty. To protect herself, she accepted the protection of the Earl of Colchester. She became his mistress, but only in name, as the Earl was not really interested in women … She saved his reputation, while he protected hers. But in exchange for that, she had to give William his farewell, and she did it in a kind of cruel way, not telling him the truth. But if the then hot-headed William had found out about her predicament, he would have stormed off to confront the prince, and he would have damaged both their careers. She didn’t want that. And they were both so young back then.
Now Marcail is being blackmailed. She supports her parents and four sisters with the money she makes as an actress, and to protect her sisters’ reputation, society cannot find out they are related to her. Her blackmailer uses a very cunning young woman, called miss Challoner as the courier. Miss Challoner is being blackmailed by the same man herself, so she also has no choice but follow orders. Marcail has to steal the onyx box from William, and that will be the last thing ever. But of course, with a blackmailer, that is never the truth.
Once William catches up with Marcail, and they are together in her hotel room, the passion between them reunites. He believes her story, and they will have to find a solution together. But then his ship is set on fire, and they run of to investigate. In the meanwhile, the box is stolen by miss Challoner, and now they will have to catch up with her, and find her, and find out who the blackmailer is to put a stop to it once and for all.
I was not as engrossed with this story as with the previous books by Karen Hawkins. The love part between William and Marcail is great, and they come to understand each other better. Their love never really died. They missed each other greatly, more than they realised. And now, working together, and making love together, solving their problems together, all is well again between them. The story itself is just a lot of travelling, staying in inns, and not really very exciting. The third brother, Robert, also makes an appearance, and he knows much more than he has told his siblings. He has another onyx box with him … and he also knows Miss Challoner … very well ….
At least his story promises to be exciting, an agent for the crown and a dandy all in once.
All in all, too much love scenes for my taste, not enough suspense in the story. Although I do like William, and admire Marcail for everything she does and endures for her family. Her father, well. He does not really deserve that name.