The Magnificent Savagesby Fred Mustard Stewart
From the bestselling author of Mephisto Waltz--which became a motion picture starring Alan Alda and Jacqueline Bisset--comes a rousing tale of passion, adventure, treachery, and heroism. Justin Savage, illegitimate son of shipping magnate Nathaniel Savage, heads out to sea in 1851 as a cabin boy on one of his father's clipper ships. When the ship is captured by pirates, Justin is forced to act against his own family's ships by the pirates' leader, the gorgeous Madame Ching.
Justin Savage is the youngest son of the mortally ill shipping tycoon Nathaniel Savage. Although the spunky Justin is his father's favorite, as an illegitimate child he will not inherit the bulk of the old man's fortune; rather, the evil Sylvaner, Justin's much older half-brother, will take over the family business once Nathaniel dies. Sylvaner's wife, Adelaide Crowninshield, is his equal when it comes to all things malevolent; when the wayward, greedy pair learn that Nathaniel's last wish is for Justin to sail to China as a cabin boy on one of the ships in his fleet, they pay a crew member to murder him at sea. En route to China, Justin quickly makes many friends, including the lovely Samantha Aspinall, who saves his life and foils Sylvaner's plot. While Justin, with Samantha's help, reads his mother's diary (left him by Nathaniel, who wanted him to learn the truth of his origins), Sylvaner has uncovered what the diary reveals: That Justin's real mother was Adelaide's sister, making Justin Sylvaner's brother and nephew-by- marriage, and the only male heir to the Crowninshield name. Justin and Samantha's innocent shipboard romance is thwarted when, improbably, a pirate named Madame Ching captures their ship and the two are separated; both are later forced to marry for the wrong reasons, but eventually, after his Far Eastern adventures, Justin falls in love again, this time with the ravishing Fiametta. Through it all, he must dodge the relentless Sylvaner and find a way to survive the Taiping rebellion in China; when he finally gets home, everyone gets their deserts.
Contrived (down to the un-punny title), although the fast pace and swashbuckling style lend a certain readability.
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