1882: Florence Dawlish stands at the quayside in Portsmouth and watches the Royal Navy’s newest cruiser, HMS Leonidas, departing under command of her husband Captain Nicholas Dawlish. Months of separation lie ahead, quiet months which she plans to fill with charitable works. Witnessing of the abduction of a young girl shatters that quiet, bringing Florence into brutal contact with the squalid underside of complacent Victorian society. With her personal loyalties challenged to the limit, and conscious that her persistence in seeking justice may damage her ambitious husband’s career, not to mention the possibility of prison for herself, Florence is drawn ever deeper into a maelstrom of corruption and violence. The enemies she faces are merciless and vicious, their identities protected by guile, power and influence. Florence has faced danger before but it was shared then with her husband Nicholas. Now she must make the hardest decisions of her life without his support. And when legal measures prove futile she must make very difficult choices…
In Britannia’s Amazon, Antoine Vanner has made a departure from his usual swashbuckling naval adventures featuring the dashing Captain Nicholas Dawlish to a story set in the hero’s home front and featuring his wife. Florence is a woman deeply in love with and proud of her husband, and she is determined not to let the class divide between them hurt his aspirations.
In previous novels, Florence has largely played a secondary role, but in Vanner’s latest installment in the series, she takes center stage and shines in doing so. Florence is a heroine of quiet persistence and indefatigable courage, even in moments in which she doubts herself. She is a strong, intelligent heroine, and Vanner has done an excellent job ensuring that she is also authentic to the times.
The events of Britannia’s Amazon run parallel to the events of Nicholas’s adventures in Korea in Britannia’s Spartan. The tale is a classic murder mystery that follows Florence as she ventures into the seedy underbelly of Victorian England. The rigors and injustices of class structure in British society are explored in depth, as is the two-fold highlights of the Victorian era: the moral revival and the gritty exploitation of innocents.
The plot is riveting, and the story flows seamlessly. It’s evident that Vanner’s research was rigorous and in-depth, and it pays off with the result of a detailed, gripping story that feels as if the reader is stepping through the pages and onto the fog-laden streets of London in the late-nineteenth century. The characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional, and in Britannia’s Amazon, Florence Dawlish discovers her own strength of character and depth of courage.
Highly recommended for fans of the Dawlish Chronicles and for those who enjoy murder mysteries with historically authentic, resourceful heroines; recommended that this series be read in order