Unclaimed Heart by Kim Wilkins (published by Razorbill, July 9, 2009)
Seventeen-year-old Constance Blackchurch has grown up in England with her aunt and cousin. Her father, captain of a merchant ship, has always been away at sea for months at a time, and Constance feels she barely knows him. Her mother disappeared one night when Constance was a baby, and no one has heard from her since. Then, shortly after returning from his latest sea voyage, Constance’s father receives a letter telling him that his wife was seen in Ceylon years ago, not long after her disappearance. He immediately decides to sail for Ceylon to see if she is still there.
Constance’s father, who still thinks of her as a child, tries to hide the news from her and is upset that she has found out. Frustrated with him, and determined to find her mother, Constance decides to stow away on his ship - quite a daring plan for a young lady of 1799. When her father finds out he is furious, and she expects to spend the rest of the voyage in lonely solitude. Until she meets Alexandre, a young Frenchman not much older than her, who works as a pearl diver near Ceylon and has escaped his cruel and greedy employer. Constance and Alexandre are instantly drawn to each other, but she knows a relationship between them would never be accepted by her father because of their different social classes. As Alexandre helps Constance search for her missing mother once they arrive in Ceylon, they grow even closer. Will they find a way to be together despite the rules of society?
Unclaimed Heart was a very quick and enjoyable read full of romance, adventure, and history. The love story was very sweet, and the setting was unique and exotic. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy romance and historical fiction, and I hope to see more books from this author in the future. And as a side note, I love the cover. It's so pretty!