When a ship is wrecked in a storm off the Portland coast, a taciturn stonecutter by the name of Joseph Rushmore sends his rescue dog to haul in plunder. What it brings instead is a baby in a cradle. The Rushmores never tell their adopted daughter the truth about her origins, but on the death of Joseph and his wife, when the girl, Joanna, is 16, she finds herself at the mercy of her abusive and violent Rushmore cousins. She is rescued by a middle-aged sea captain, Tobias Darsham, who is making a pilgrimage to visit his wife's grave. When Tobias suggests that he and Joanna should get married, the desperate girl feels she has no choice but to agree. However, soon after the wedding, Tobias gets a nasty shock when he discovers Joanna's childhood cradle—because he carved it himself for his daughter. Horrified at the thought that he might have married his own daughter, Tobias fakes his own death and sets sail for Australia, leaving Joanna in the care of his second-in-command, Alexander Morcant. Finding themselves mutually dependent, Alexander and Joanna's initial animosity gradually dissolves into a passionate attraction. But will she ever discover the truth about her origins?
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Janet Woods' previous books include ""The Stonecutter's Daughter ""and ""Where Seagulls Soar,""""""
During a brutal storm on Portland Island, off the coast of England, Joseph Rushmore is following an Islanders' tradition by scavenging the remains that wash ashore when God answers his prayers, delivering an infant safely to his arms. Joseph brings her home to his wife, who has just lost a child. The two claim the baby as their own, naming her Joanna Rose. She grows up loved by her parents, although many of the Islanders suspect that she is not of their blood. Then, at the age of 16, Joanna becomes an orphan, and her brutish uncle threatens to take away her home, claiming that she is no relation to the family. Joanna is rescued by Tobias Darsham, a merchant and widower. He feels a connection to the young girl and knows that it is time for him to remarry. The unraveling of Woods' young heroine's antecedents makes for a highly appealing historical novel, one filled with surprises and interesting detail. Patty Engelmann
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