The heroine, Sophia, is an heiress whose family's sole desire is that she marry well; not only does she think they don't understand her, they really don't understand her (this is not hammered home). She's an artist and wants more, and has spent her life making up stories and/or lying about things to make them more interesting. When the book begins, she's run away from an engagement and is trying to find passage to Tortula. She lies in her note to her family, saying she ran off with the mythical French artist Gervais, and she lies to the ship owner, telling him she's traveling to take up a post as a governess, when actually she plans to travel further once she's overseas. Waht I liked about this crazy plan is that it felt true to the character. She wasn't "too stupid to live," just impulsive and desperate.
The hero, Gray, is an excellent match because he's also done stupid and impulsive things in his time, mostly as a result of guilt issues related to his family. His recently-widowed brother, Joss, is the son of his father and a slave, and their relationship is wonderfully rich and complex - I would love to see a book about Joss. We don't meet his sister until the end, but she's the heroine of the third book in the trilogy. Gray is trying to reform from having an impulsive, dangerous lifestyle as a privateer. He wants to set up Joss for life with a shipping company and give his sister a season in London so she can marry. Then he meets Sophia, and is unbearably tempted by her.
The best thing about this book is the characters, though I also enjoyed the ocean voyage details. The ending might seem too dramatic, but I thought it perfectly suited these characters and the book's themes.
So far, everyone I've asked has liked the first book more than the second, and I will admit the first one has one of my bulletproof kinks, the Stoic Hero. But this one is just as well-written and entertaining, and deserves equal attention.