Julia Witherington meets William Ransome on board her father’s ship when she is just ten years old, and he fifteen. With Julia disguised as a boy, William takes her under his wing, looks out for her and becomes her friend. As the years go by Julia and William fall in love, and when Julia is seventeen William asks her father for Julia’s hand in marriage. The whole of Portsmouth expects the happy announcement at a ball. William and Julia dance, and go for a walk in the garden; but then the unthinkable happens. Instead of a marriage proposal, William makes it clear that there won’t be one. He truly loves Julia, but being a poor sailor he believes he has nothing to offer her. Despite her father’s blessing and Julia’s obvious infatuation, he decides to make something of himself before he makes her his wife. Believing William only courted her to gain her father’s good graces and ensure a promotion in the Navy, a devastated and heartbroken Julia vows to never forgive William. She returns to her father’s sugar plantation in Jamaica and devotes all of her time, dedication and love to the running of her beloved Tierra Dulce.
Twelve years go by before Julia once again returns to Portsmouth. Still unmarried, Julia is labelled a spinster and is pitied by the wealthy ladies of society that she never found a husband. Unbeknownst to the ladies, however, Julia has received and turned down a number of proposals – she no longer has any interest in being a wife. As fate would have it William Ransome, now a Captain in the Navy, is also back in town, awaiting his new orders from the Admiralty. Despite his intention to reclaim her heart and hand once he gained prestige and wealth, as the years went by William convinced himself Julia would never forgive him. Forced to face the woman he hurt and humiliated, William constantly regrets his decision to walk away from her, but the pain and resentment in Julia’s eyes, as well as William’s own guilt, keep him from pursuing her once more. However, the more time they spend together, William can’t help but wonder if Julia might still love him. Why else has a beautiful, smart and funny girl like her never married? Could it be that she’s been waiting for him?
When Julia’s long lost aunt makes an unexpected reappearance in their lives, Julia’s father enlists Lady Pembroke to be Julia’s companion. Lady Pembroke soon introduces Julia to her cousin Drake, and with the regularity with which Lady Pembroke throws Julia and Drake together, it soon becomes clear that she hopes an engagement will be forthcoming. Too bad for Lady Pembroke, Julia can’t stand her snobbish rake of a cousin. As Drake has squandered his family fortune as is heavily in debt thanks to his gambling, he and Lady Pembroke are equally intent and determined for Drake to marry Julia to get their hands on her family fortune. As Julia’s brother was lost at sea, Julia is her father’s sole heir and along with a thirty thousand pound dowry, her husband would also gain all of Admiral Witherington’s properties, including the very profitable sugar plantation Julia so loves. The only problem is, should Julia remain unmarried, she will gain her inheritance on her thirtieth birthday… which is six weeks away.
When Admiral Witherington is sent to London on business, Julia is at the mercy of Lady Pembroke's rules. As an unmarried woman Julia must abide by the wishes of the relative in whose care she finds herself – at the moment it is the very conniving Lady Pembroke. When she forbids Julia to social, and all but locks her up in the house, Julia assures herself that it is only for a short while. On her thirtieth birthday Julia will gain her freedom, and will no longer have to submit to Lady Pembroke. However, at a dinner party, a confidant of Julia’s overhears Lady Pembroke and Drake planning to secretly forge a letter of consent from Julia’s father, and have Julia and Drake’s engagement published – by which time Julia will bring dishonour to her father should she refuse to marry Drake. When their plan is discovered to start spreading rumours about Julia and Drake’s engagement at the next ball, Julia is forced to take matters into her own hands. If she can’t stop an engagement, she can at least choose her fiancée. Desperate, Julia turns to the only respectable bachelor she can think of, the only man her father will not object her marrying. His most trusted Captain, William Ransome. Julia approaches her proposal as a business deal – she offers William her thirty thousand pound dowry and names him her father’s heir apparent if he will marry her for one year. All that she asks is that she be allowed to return to Tierra Dulce when the marriage is annulled. The only woman he's ever loved is willing to marry him; William immediately agrees – only he has no intention of ever allowing her an annulment.
Ransome’s Honor by Kaye Dacus did not quite turn out to be the book I had expected. Surely it’s a good thing when a book is unpredictable, but the problem is I am sure this book is supposed to be a love story – I didn’t find it to be one. To me, the book is more about Lady Pembroke's endless scheming than William and Julia’s romance. This got on my nerves. Julia, for all mention of her independence and self-sufficiency, is constantly being bested by Lady Pembroke. Seriously, you know the woman wants her hands on your fortune, yet you keep thinking she might be genuine this time? I got so annoyed by Julia’s following Lady Pembroke's rules for the greater part of the novel. You’re a grown woman! What is six weeks in the great scheme of things? Just tell the woman to pack her bags and get out of your house.
Having said that, the book wasn’t terrible. William and Julia really do love each other (though they don’t bother to tell each other even once – I’m a romantic, I need these things), and he does race to her rescue several times. Very chivalrous. Ransome’s Honor is book one of a trilogy, and I will very likely read the next two. Book 2 will follow William’s sister as she secretly boards his ship bound for Jamaica. I quite like Charlotte Ransome, as I like Ned Cochrane who will vie for her heart, and as book 2 will be placed on sea, I am actually looking forward to it. I love books set on sea. Book 3 will follow William, Julia, Ned and Charlotte, and as I assume I have seen the last of Lady Pembroke I am sure things will only get better from here.
Title: Ransome's Honor
Title: Ransome's Honor
Author: Kaye Dacus
Number of pages: 352
Publisher: Harvest House