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The Sea Witch by Ruth Langan
(Harl. Historical #523, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29123-X
If you like swashbuckling action stories, the kind were Maureen O'Hara dressed in men's clothing and fought along side the rest of the sailors, then The Sea Witch is the book for you. If you like stories that have strong families working together, then this first book in the Sirens of the Sea series is for you. If you like both kind of stories, you are in for a treat. Ruth Langan combines all of the above in this new historical set in 1665 England.

Ambrosia Lambert receives the worse news of her seventeen years. Her beloved father and brother have died at sea leaving three daughters, Ambrosia, Bethany, and Darcy. As the oldest, Ambrosia vows to keep working in her father's profession as a privateer for King Charles II. Her father and brother taught all of the girls to fight and sail as well as most men.

Captain Riordan Spencer is the man who delivers the sad news to the Lambert sisters. His ship was also involved in the disaster that killed the Lamberts. He was very close friends with Ambrosia’s brother and Captain Lambert was more of a father than his own. He vowed to his friends that he would take care of the sisters. What he didn't expect was the attraction to Ambrosia or her determination to carry on in her father's footsteps. He offers to buy the Lambert ship. Instead, Ambrosia offers to make him the captain of the Undaunted with her along as owner and crew member. He is reluctant, but soon learns how determined and skilled she is.

Danger lurks very close. King Charles has enemies set on depriving him of the gold and treasures the privateers bring him. Riordan has been working undercover for the King to try and find the identity of the traitors. When the Undaunted is targeted, both Riordan and Ambrosia as well as her family end up in danger.

Ms. Langan is particularly good at showing strong family relationships that include not just blood family members, but also those people that become family just by being close and connected. The Lambert family includes the sisters, grandfather, the old nurse, the housekeeper, and a sailor with a wooden leg who once sailed with grandfather. She gives each person enough depth to make them whole people, not just types. She even includes a side romance for grandfather that sneaks in toward the end of the book.

The attraction between Ambrosia and Riordan is that of two strong people trying to prove that strength to each other. Each of them gets to protect the other several times using the different skills each of them has. The escape scene from the pirate town is particularly harrowing. The love scenes are sensual and sweet.

I look forward to the rest of the Sirens of the Sea tales.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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