In the eleventh instalment of the Courtney series, Smith continues to lay the early foundation of the Courtney family in South Africa. This novel moves the story to the next generation of Courtney children, specifically the sons of Tom (Jim) and Dorian (Mansur). In the early portion of the novel, the reader learns of Jim’s fascination with Louisa Leuven, who appears on a prison ship that docks close to the family settlement. Louisa’s story is one of pain and severe abuse, which Smith recounts in graphic detail, including the crime that sees her unjustly sentenced. When Jim helps free Louisa from the ship, they escape into the African wilderness, fleeing colonial authorities. During their adventure, Jim and Louisa fall in love while finding a way to allow their feelings to grow, hampered by Louisa’s past and issues of trust. When the colonial governor learns that Tom has been aiding in his son’s activities, the entire Courtney family is blacklisted and they must leave their home, for fear of further retribution. At their new settlement, the story shifts to focus on Dorian and Mansur, who still hold onto the former’s past life as the adopted son of the Prince of Oman. When the current Caliph of Oman seeks revenge on Dorian for all he did while living with the family in Zanzibar, death seems the easiest solution. However, after Dorian’s wife, Yasmini, is killed, these Courtney men refuse to turn the other cheek and will stop at nothing to avenge her death. Dorian chooses to take back the Caliphate and must wrest control from the evil Zayn al-Din. While beginning their trek, Mansur meets Verity and falls madly in love. It is only later that Mansur realises that she is actually his cousin, daughter to Tom’s twin brother, Guy. While Verity has been told much about her family, she learns that all she knows are lies and falsehoods. Verity chooses Mansur over her own father, who vows to bring the Courtney family down in any way he can. While Dorian fights for his honour, Mansur must face-off against his uncle to protect the woman he loves, spilling Courtney blood no matter what. A powerful novel that Smith uses to enrich the further generational saga of the Courtneys, told in intricate detail.
Moving away from the nautical battles that played a central role earlier, Smith is able to offer up an exciting and multi-faceted story that is sure to keep the reader’s attention. Filled with the excitement of battles of the heart and freedom, Smith advances the Courtney story with new characters and significant twists, some of which were bound to come to the forefront and others whose genesis only add to the epic adventure on which this family has embarked. As I presumed, the departure of Guy in the previous novel could not be ignored, as he appears in the form of a bitter man who hates the family he left in England, only to exact his own form of revenge. With so many plots and characters to keep balanced, Smith does a stellar job at ensuring the reader is not left bored or confused. With much to keep the series momentum looking forward, Smith catapults the Courtneys into yet another adventure, as he expands the family tree, forcing the reader to plot something out, in order to keep things clear for the twelfth novel.
Kudos, Mr. Smith for another great novel in which you keep a quick but constant pace for all your characters to grow and develop.