If you want to read a book about lesbians, time travel, and seafaring, The Sea Hawk by Brenda Adcock has all three. And the story she tells is a gripping, emotional read.
In the present day, Julia Blanchard, a marine archaeologist is excavating a ship from the 1800s that she calls “The Georgia Peach.” One day, while on one of her dives, Julia barely escapes modern pirates and is accidentally drifted out at sea. After days of floating aimlessly, Julia passes out and wakes up on a British ship in 1814. Unsure whether this is all a hallucination or not, Julia goes along with the events and reveals nothing about her real life. Then the ship is raided by French privateers, and Julia is taken captive by Captain Simone Moreau of the Faucon de Mer. Julia and Simone both feel an attraction to each other, although Simone is currently in a loveless relationship. After some adventures, the two fall in love. Then Simone is summoned by Jean Lafitte to help the Americans defend New Orleans from the British, at the end of the War of 1812. As the privateers gather, Julia and Simone must decide if they can have a life together.
The Sea Hawk has an amazing plot, and the characters of Julia and Simone were funny, flawed, and human. I found myself especially intrigued by Simone, wondering how she had become captain of the Faucon de Mer, and what in her life had led up to her choosing to be a privateer. These questions are answered, and make Simone’s motives more understandable. Unlike many pirates and privateers of her day, Simone isn’t interested in finding treasure and gaining notoriety. She simply wants to live out her life in peace once she retires from sailing. I found this quite refreshing. And her fighting alongside the Americans in the War of 1812 was another interesting plot line I had never seen done before.
The War of 1812 is not the only subject covered in this book; Julia and Simone sail to Simone’s home island Martinique, Louisiana, and of course, experience adventures on the high seas. There are plenty of action scenes with swords and pistols, as well as betrayals, daring escapes, horseback riding, and tender romances. Not just Julia and Simone’s love story is told; Simone’s brother Anton and his girlfriend Kitty have their own promises and loyalties. No one seems to mind same-sex relationships in the novel, which I found inaccurate to the time period, but on the other hand it fit with the characters and the story.
Brenda Adcock did well conveying the emotions of what was happening with her characters. I felt the same anxiety, sadness, and happiness of Julia and Simone as they went through each trial. While some may find the ending confusing, I was satisfied with how things were wrapped up, both in the past and present.
The Sea Hawk was a wonderful book from start to finish; I will definitely be picking this up again!