When her husband dies and she is forced to take in paying guests, Harriet Harte feels she has come down in the world. For her lively and forward-thinking daughter Tamsin, however, their lapse from Society is a welcome release. No more tiresome balls, supper parties, and musical evenings for her; instead she is free to concentrate on her main ambition in life: to restore the family's fortunes by becoming Penzance's principal hotelier.
There are, of course, obstacles in her path, such as the dashing and attentive Standish Coverley, who already is the town's leading hotelier. Is Tamsin to succeed at the expense of a friend and devoted admirer? There is also Victor Thorne, a handsome dilletante who makes no secret of his interest in her, to the fury of his protective and scheming mama.
And then there is Newlyn fisherman, David Peters, last surviving son of local character "Captain" Benny Peters. All he can offer is his skill as a smuggler and the lobsters he sometimes catches by accident. Small wonder that Tamsin prefers to keep her thoughts strictly to matters of business until some surprising revelations about all three of her admirers compel her to consider them in an entirely different light.
When published by St Martin's in New York and Piatkus in London, in 1999, Tamsin Harte attracted the following notices:
* Set in a Cornish fishing village at the turn of the last century, Macdonald's latest historical romance evokes the moment when England's rigid class structure first began to loosen and the upper classes began to reconsider their conventional injunction against the self-made man, or, in this case, woman. ... There is plenty of social intrigue and high adventure, including brandy smuggling ... fine dining and skinny dipping. Delightful descriptions of Victorian-era practices ... add historical color. Macdonald tells a lively and engaging tale. Publisher's Weekly
* The heroine of the prolific Macdonald's latest historical novel is a feisty young entrepreneur corralled into running a bed-and-breakfast with her mother after her beloved father's death. ... No matter what she gets up to, [she] retains her light-hearted innocence and joie-de-vivre. Booklist
Andof Macdonald himself:
*He is every bit as bad as Dickens - Martin Seymour-Smith