Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets ...
1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.
But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.
By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.
A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys is published in hardback by Doubleday on 23 March 2017.
To travel across the world, as a single woman, back in 1939 was an extraordinary adventure for those who took the opportunity given through the Assisted Passage scheme offered by the British Government. For Lily Shepherd, this voyage is her one chance to leave behind a life of hardship and sorrow, to wipe the slate clean and to discover a new and exciting land. Lily intends to stay away for only two years, but the talk of impending war overwhelms the passengers on the ship and it may be a very long time before Lily sees English soil again.
Life on board the Orontes is almost dream-like as Lily mixes with the rich and the glamorous; wearing fur and silk, sipping cocktails and forming friendships with the sort of people who, back onshore, wouldn't look twice at her. When she is taken under the wings of Max and Eliza Campbell, Lily risks her reputation, and there are some passengers who don't hesitate to let her know that she really shouldn't be associating with such people. Regardless, Lily is swept along by the glamour and the thrill, flattered by the attention, willing to risk the wrath of her dour cabin mate, and determined to make the most of these weeks at sea before settling down to more hard work in Australia.
A Dangerous Crossing is an absolute joy to read. The ship itself, the intricately drawn and developed characters, the snapshot of 1930s glamour and riches combined with an intriguing plot that deals with much more than cocktails and dinner dances is irresistible. The author's ability to weave multiple issue into one magnificent story is wondrous, this is a captivating read.
The sense of danger that hangs over the characters is finely and powerfully done, and as the reader learns just a little more about each character, that dangerous feeling increases. It is clear that most of these passengers are fleeing something, but that for some of them, there is no escape. The author deals with the saddest and most tragic cases of social injustice, that will shock and sadden the modern reader, and whilst we still live in a world that is unsteady and unfair, this is a lesson in how far thinking has travelled in less than one hundred years.
A Dangerous Crossing is tender, heartfelt and glamorous. An engaging multi-layered story that seizes the imagination from the intriguing prologue, right through to the satisfying ending. I loved it and can't recommend it highly enough.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
RACHEL RHYS is the pen-name of a successful psychological suspense author. A Dangerous Crossing is her debut under this name and is inspired by a real life account of a 1930s ocean voyage.
A Dangerous Crossing is due to be published around the world.
Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.