The Brides of Durango: Elise


Hired Gun

Rapture’s Tempest
by Bobbi Smith
(Leisure, $7.99, PG)  ISBN 08439-6051-5
Bobbi Smith is an author that takes some getting used to. While I give points for many things in this tale, her style was very distracting and the epic length (424 pages) and small print used in Rapture’s Tempest made this read like a much longer story.  It was exciting at times, romantic at times and, sadly, tedious at times.

Delight de Vries gets caught up in things that are not of her making and she comes out the stronger for it.  As the story starts, she is caring for her ill mother and fending off the advances of her stepfather, Martin Montgomery, who is lusting after this young woman.  Delight takes off dressed as boy with shortened hair, ending up as a cabin boy on the steamer Enterprise

In 1863, the Enterprise runs up and down the Mississippi from its home port of St. Louis, at times carrying gold for the Union forces. It is owned by the Westlake family. George, the patriarch, has given most of the control over to his sons, Marshall and Jim. Marshall is the home office man, having a wife and young son. Jim is the captain and carefree bachelor, who is actually getting ready to settle down and becomes engaged at the beginning of the tale. His fiancée is Annabelle Morgan, a beauty and a woman who is more snake than charm. She is a member of a southern spy group looking for information about the gold shipments so that they can be stolen for the Confederate army.

Jim and his first mate, Ollie, take “Del” under their wings and find “he” is a hard worker.  But as they spend time together, with Delight sleeping in a small room off the captain’s cabin, she finds herself falling in love with Jim. One night, after both have had too much to drink, they make love and Jim discovers that his cabin boy is no boy. They end up together; creating enemies of Annabelle and Martin and then the tale of the gold shipments take over.

There are a multitude of stories within this book. Jim’s sister Dorrie is being courted by two men; one is a friend and associate of Jim’s named Mark Clayton, and one is a member of the spy ring. There is the story of the gold, the story behind Martin and his wife, and there is what feels like a continued romance with Marshall and his wife, Reneé.

The story skirts actual boredom, but it teeters there. When the ship explodes and people are worried about survivors, we must hear the story repeated no less than four times in a row as new people come into the room. It is understandable that everyone is shocked, but must we hear the story as if for the first time for almost 10 pages? Another troubling habit by the author is to repeat the discoveries of earlier chapters. She noted that Delight dressed in boys’ clothes and acted as the cabin boy so many times, I chuckled. And it was done as though the author feared we would have forgotten how Delight and Jim first met if she didn’t remind us again and again.

I give points for a Civil War story set in Missouri, a place not often attributed as a hot bed of activity. There ar some exciting moments when the ship was attacked and when they were finally catching the bad guys. Delight comes of age and her maturity seems real. She is strong heroine. Jim is a good hero, even though his problems stem from trying to protect people rather than just communicate with them. Mark Clayton and Dorrie are a good couple and one it is easy to root for.

Sadly, there are just too many areas that were less than satisfying.  Rapture’s Tempest is a long book with unfulfilled potential. 

--Shirley Lyons

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