Liked this one a lot and thought it the best one yet of the series. For starters, it has more fun and adventure and... swashbuckling!
Second, the steamy sex scenes for which LS is famous and which I skipped for the most part as it was same o same o, was taken care of the first few chapters. With that out the way, the plot picked up fast with the h/h and friends on the run and one step ahead of the villains. They did encounter real dangers and came out of one very tight nail biting scene quite victorious, albeit with cuts and bruises.
Third, h/h knew almost right away that they were fated to be together. About 3 quarters into the book, they already knew they loved each other and that they would marry. No mushy soul-searching revelations at the end.
Fourth, no BIG MISUNDERSTANDING, which is one of my pet peeves as it sometimes gets so convoluted, taking up much of the book that the romance suffers.
Fifth, the h/h in this book are commoners. They are not snobs, are down to earth, no-nonsense and practical. I'm a little tired of LS' usual blue-blooded h/h's, who at times I find too perfect.
I can't wait for the last 4th installment. I hope that one tops this.
Hero is a bastard of an earl. He's also an orphan and has no family. I think this is LS' first. It's sweet that he found a ready-made family with the heroine, who takes in children orphaned from shipwrecks and schools them in trade. She's got a big house, a sizable estate on an island she pretty much owns. She's also a businesswoman, runs a shipping line and in fact captains her own ship!
I'm going against the flow here by saying this book had no redeeming value whatsoever! I normally love everything Stephanie Laurens writes but IMHO, this was not one of her better works. Other than the fact that she wanted to use all 8 of the Bastion Club guys to act as guards for the couriers, I see no reason why she even wrote this book. It added absolutely nothing to the overall Black Cobra story. In fact, it could have been left unwritten entirely and no one would have missed it.
I didn't care for the heroine at all. I thought she had a very high opinion of herself...calling herself Liege Lord of her home and the people it contains and later likening herself as a virgin queen similar to Queen Elizabeth I. Only in her dreams! The hero was alright and maybe I would have liked him better in a different story altogether.
There were a few things that I thought were just too much...
....the hero was fighting 2 cultists on a ship during a storm. He was severely slashed by the sword of one cultist, then all three were swept overboard....then he found a piece of wreckage to hang onto...then he was hit in the head by the ship's spar as the ship capsized and knocked unconscious....then he washed up on a rocky shoreline along with the 2 dead cultists...then he was found by the heroine's young wards....well you get the picture. To top all that off, the heroine stitched up the gash in his side and bandaged his head. He obviously had a concussion because he remained unconscious throughout this whole process. The heroine, concerned because he was still so very cold, decides to crawl into bed with him...to warm him up! Well, she falls asleep and is awoken in the night by the hero having sex with her while he is still unconscious! Yeah, right! I'm sorry...it was just too much!
I rate my books 1-4 stars....I gave this one 2 stars and that was a stretch!