‘290’ Vol. II: The Laird Gunboat
Thursday, July 4, 1861, Liverpool – Yesterday, James Trenton Grey arrived in this pro-Southern city to restore the faltering fortunes of Davis & Grey. Today, he is meeting with an old friend, Charles Prioleau, a partner in the British arm of George Trenholm’s Charleston firm. Grey is focused upon the blockade and building a new steamship to run it. Prioleau is focused on building a vessel, too. But for a very different purpose.
Against his better judgment, Grey finds himself drawn into a world of intrigue in England, one where the words “espionage” and “sabotage” are no longer confined to a dictionary. A new Confederate cruiser, known only as ‘290’, could tip the War in the South’s favor – if the vessel can be finished and launched before the British government impounds it. Union agents discover their plot, and Grey and his Confederate co-conspirators must side-step British law, federal spies, and diplomatic scheming in a race against time.
In Virginia, Joanna Stuart Davis is perfecting plans to grow her business and promote a marriage. Her wealth and her security are tied to both. With her firm’s trade expanding on the rising tide of war, she sails to Nassau, hub of a burgeoning war commerce. There, new worlds of politics and influence open wide. But new worlds expose old wounds, causing her personal and professional needs to collide.
In the turbulence of these events, Grey’s decisions in Britain – and Davis’s indecision in New Providence – set them on unforeseen paths and force them to choose between their personal motives and their deepest desires . . .