This book is really two separate stories linked by the heroine of the title. The hero, falling in love with her portrait, sets out to find her in Haiti. It is 1800 and the first part deals with the French privateers in the Caribbean and Bonaparte's attacks to retake Haiti from the natives. Part two takes the couple to the Mediterranean where they are captured by the Barbary pirates. Much of this deals with the United State's political [mis]dealings with the Barbary States. Lydia is the brain behind their escape from both situations.
This story, as with all Kenneth Roberts' novels, are high romantic historical adventure. He's up there with Frank Yerby, Ben Ames Williams, Thoman Costain, Samuel Shellabarger, and Rafael Sabatini. There's a good reason why Hollywood made so many of their novels into movies. It's just pure entertainment.
The action takes us from New England during the furor over the Aliens and Seditions Act to Haiti during Toussaint L'Ouverture's rebellion, where he meets and marries the lovely Lydia Bailey. The couple escape the French re-invasion of Haiti and head to Europe. They are then captured in the Mediterrenean by the barbary pirates who have declared war on the new United States. Roberts peppers his books, and this one is no exception, with numerous historical characters; and though the main character, Lydia, is a little bland and predictable, it is still an entertaining read. Not one of his best, but still very good.