The Gilded Fan by Christina Courtenay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the ultimate escapism novel, historic with well informed careful research, scenes delicately painted with beautiful words, romance and lovely well rounded characters who are a delight to spend time with.
The story begins in Japan with the orphaned heroine Midori, daughter of a Samurai warrior and an English woman, discovering her life is in imminent danger; her half brother helps secure her a passage on a merchant ship captained by Dutchman Nico Noordholt, and she sets sail for Amsterdam, intending to continue to England to throw herself on the mercy of her late mothers family in Plymouth. Although in many ways she has led a sheltered life and had a privileged upbringing, her training in sword fighting and self defense seem as though they may be put to good use when she finds herself the only female on board a ship with a crew of over 100 raucous seamen deprived of female company and Captain Nico begins to regret his decision to allow such an attractive young woman to disrupt his ship and finds she is on his mind far more than he imagined any woman would ever be.
The journey is fraught with danger and mishaps but Midori finds loyal friendship on board in unlikely places. Her arrival in England is no less eventful when she discovers secrets about her mothers family and struggles to adapt to their rigid Puritan way of life after the bountiful life filled with lavish colourful treasures and beauty which she has left behind. Civil war threatens to destroy her new found family and the fragile peace of mind in the new life she is trying to build.
Threaded through the story like a colourful thread running through a silk kimono is the attraction between Midori and Nico who seems destined to keep turning up.
A lovely, well written and charming historical romance of the consistently exceptionally high standard I have come to know and expect from Choc-Lit books. Very highly recommended if you like spirited heroines, mouth watering heroes, gritty historical descriptions and tender romance rolled into a page turning package to take you away from your humdrum life for a few hours.
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