The Mark of the Golden Dragon. Bloody Jack Adventures Book 9. by L.A. Meyer. Read by Katherine Kellgren.
At the end of the last Jacky Faber book, Jacky was on board her own ship, a free woman again, and eating dinner with her beloved Jaimy and a group of other friends. Of course, something that good could never last – readers of the series will know to expect a separation if the book starts out with Jacky and Jaimy together. There is a typhoon, and Jacky and little Ravi are washed overboard, landing in Burma. With her usual talent of landing on her feet, Jacky manages to charm a powerful English-educated businessman, Chinese Charlie, befriend his daughter, and convince him to give her a shipful of treasure with which they will both be able to buy their way into England’s favor. While in England, Jacky hopes to track down Jaimy.
Once in England, though, her plan doesn’t seem as straightforward. For one thing, Jaimy appears to have gone mad at her supposed death, and has descended into lawlessness, seeking only to revenge himself on the two men he holds responsible for Jacky’s sentence and therefore her death. He is now the very romantic yet tragic Black Highwayman. For another, Jacky still has a lot of enemies in England herself, and must proceed very cautiously. Fortunately, she meets up with her old friend, the handsome Lord Richard Allan, who is more than willing to help her with her mission (at least the part that doesn’t involve her finding Jaimy.)
As I’ve been reading this series for a full decade now, I feel prone to a little reflection on why I like it so much. I’ve often mentioned how I love the wild adventures, Katherine Kellgren’s fabulous reading, and the frequent inclusion of period songs. But the books couldn’t have survived on that formula alone if Jacky herself weren’t such a great character. She’s bold and daring, with a decidedly anachronistically modern sensibility that makes her easy to relate to. But she’s also full of faults acutely aware of them – her tendency to rush into things head-first without checking, her inability to keep from kissing a similarly inclined pretty boy even while she’s determined to stay ultimately loyal to Jaimy, the ease with which she loses her temper. She is deeply emotional in general, exuberant when happy, and quick to tears when accused of heartlessness or when she hears bad news about any of her many, deeply loved friends. In short, she’s a person with the temperament that I can believe would get into the kind of adventures she does (as increasingly unbelievable as they are) and who would inspire the kind of deep, friendship-based loyalty that makes the stories work.
I had just started last year’s Viva Jacquelina! with plans to move on to the most recent entry in the series, Boston Jacky, when my love bought The Dream Thieves for me. And – well, I don’t know that it’s a weakness, per say, as I like the comfort-adventure I get with Jacky very much. It’s still on hold until I find out what’s going to happen to Blue and the Raven Boys.