So. Dona flees the Manor because she hates being Lady of same. She scarpers to her country home, which country is being ravaged by a French corsair. In no real waste of narrative, she falls in with the corsair. Banter ensues, piratical shenanigans follow. Several people are plundered. Things go swimmingly, and then foul, and then swimmingly again, and then horribly wrong, and there is the ever-looming threat that one (or both [or, I guess, all]) of them will be hung from the highest tree. Country gentry take a dim view of piracy.
And it’s wholly improbable. Lady fair meets chivalrous pirate and is totally not-perturbed. She is, if you will, turbed. But it feels realistic. At no point do you say to yourself, Hold up, this is silly. Because that’s what you can do when you are talented. You can write any old thing, make anything happen, and people will be on board.
And there’s plenty of swash and buckle. While the romance is arguably the point, it is oddly backgrounded so that it drives all the action but doesn’t keep poking you in the eyes. The secondary characters are almost Dickensian in their silly adorability or wart-having grotesquerie, and the last fifty or so pages are deliciously tense.
Very great, this. I give it the Infinite Nod.
Also nine caterpillars.