Out for revenge against those who stole his family's fortune, Captain Will Falcon scours the small islands off the Carolinas, determined to rid the area of its scourge, land-bound pirates known as the Brethren. These men lure unsuspecting ships to the rocks and steal whatever the sea hasn't taken. When a storm forces Will overboard and into the Brethren's secret territory, he must marry the fair Angel or die.
Taken as a prize from the sea in early childhood, she has been raised among them, yet is innocent of the pirates' more deadly practices. She longs to know the world outside and is certain that Will can teach her, until he escapes and forces her to go with him.
Once back in Charleston, the unwritten rules of society dictate Will and Angel's future: he must wed his shipping partner's daughter to regain his standing, and Angel must accept the aid of an aged countess in finding a suitable husband. But treachery lies beneath the glitter when a last successful raid on the Brethren exposes Will Falcon's true enemy, and tragedy forces Angel to choose between her freedom and the hunger to have her own family.
A true swashbuckling tale replete with knife fights, pirate treasure, ghost stories, and pistol duels, FALCON'S ANGEL satisfies with its rich background of both the simple island life and the decadent wealth of society. Long-time fans of Ms. French know what to expect, yet may be disappointed when Will doesn't get his chance to prove himself a hero and right the wrongs that have been done to his family. VERY SENSUAL (Feb., 465 pp., $6.99)