Wild Bells to the Wild Sky Paperback – Feb 1989
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About the Author
Laurie McBain became a publishing phenomenon at age twenty-six with her first historical romance. She is a winner of the Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Historical Romance Author. All of her romances were bestsellers, selling over 11 million copies. Laurie's books have been out of print for over 5 years. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
As the years passed, and fortune's cruelty forced her into a life of adventure, the girl once forgotten became a ravishing beauty who tormented Valentine Whitelaw's heart. And as the royal treachery that has destroyed her family now threatened her, he became her champion.
Drawn together into perilous adventure and intrigue, they crossed the world, won glorious renown in the service of the Queen... and found their love's destiny past the ends of desire.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This a romance / adventure / coming of age story between Elizabethan era Lily Christian and her sea-dog pirate captain, Valentine Whitelaw. While this is not an overtly sexual story (try Ms. Small's Skye O'Malley for that), it does contain one of the best romances I ever read. It contains everything great about the Elizabethan period, brave sea-dogs, bad Spanish spies, the new world, faires, and even a small cameo from Shakespeare.
Truly this is a classic historical romance read. It's one that I hold all other up to.
Lily Christian was the product of a marriage between her English father, a privateer for Queen Elizabeth I, and her aristocratic Spanish mother who met Lily's father when he captured a Spanish galleon on which the Spanish beauty was traveling with her family. Like her mother before her, Lily is beautiful with dark auburn hair, but she has her father's green eyes and his love of adventure. Even as a child Lily was climbing with him the rigging of his ship. When treachery results in her father's death and his ship being sunk by a vengeful Spanish uncle, Lily and her mother and their father's friend Basil Whitelaw escape to become castaways on an island in the West Indies. Seven years later, at 14, Valentine Whitelaw, Basil's younger brother and one of the queen's favorite privateers, rescues Lily. And she falls in love with the dashing captain who, she overhears confiding to his mistress, thinks of Lily as only the daughter of a friend.
McBain's style is to build the story slowly with layer upon layer of meticulous detail as she carefully weaves together many disparate threads. This tale from Elizabethan England (and the West Indies) is incredibly well crafted, with endearing characters (including real persons like Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare and Lily's siblings and a pet monkey and parrot), and rich in historic detail. Oh yes, and a surprise at the end!
Lily is a special heroine, always unselfishly caring for others and sacrificing her own desires for them. Valentine is a noble hero who will take most of the story to recognize the woman destined for him.
You may have to purchase it used, as I did, but it will be worth it, I promise!
Lily is the daughter of English privateer Geoffrey Christian and Spanish noblewoman Magdalena Montevares (he'd taken one look, fell in love and snatched her whilst raiding her father's ship). Years later, Magdalena returns to the West Indies with her husband and seven-year old daughter to see her mother before she dies. Also on board ship is Sir Basil, who is a spy of sorts on the trail of evil baddies conspiring against Queen Elizabeth.
Magdalena patches things up with her father, but her brother-in-law still holds a grudge against Geoffrey and he ambushes Geoffrey's ship on the return voyage - the ship is sunk and all are presumed lost. Or are they? Years later Sir Basil's brother Valentine Whitelaw hears rumors that Geoffrey had sent Magdalena, Lily and Sir Basil to an island close by for safety and they might still be alive...
And the hunt is on and that's all I'm going to tell. This is definitely one of those 80's romances with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in - stranded on a desert island, a jaguar a monkey and a saucy parrot (!!), privateers, lost treasure, spies, gypsies, and an evil grasping guardian all tied into plots to murder the queen. While I liked this a lot, and as much as I like to hear the smaller historical details about clothing, food, etc., I think McBain got a bit carried away with it all. I think that was partly aggravated by the length of time (and book!!) it took to get to the *meat* of the story - yes things were always happening, but at the same time you don't get a grown up Lily until halfway through the book and you will not get your first searing kiss until around page 400 - and you'll be waiting even longer for the payola - and for that I'm knocking off a half star and rating it 3.5 rounded up to four.