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  • Location: Natal, Valparaiso, Atlantic Ocean, Bristol, London

On Starlit Seas

On Starlit Seas

Why a Booktrail?

1824: Chocolate. Smuggling. Secrets and Lies. Travel the seven seas from Brazil to England on the Bittersweet ship….


  • ISBN: 978-1785300387
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Maria Graham, a celebrated writer and the toast of Georgian London,  has been charged with a mission by the Empress of Brazil. Times are not easy for women to travel alone and the Brazilian Civil war is at its height. So, she seeks protection and a passage with Capt James Henderson.

On the journey to England, she soon discovers that all is not as it seems on that ship and no one can be trusted. Capt Henderson has his own reasons for the journey and there is a dangerous secret hidden deep within a stash of chocolate.

But it’s not just the chocolate that is tempting for the roguish charms of the Captain too. However both could lead to a great deal of danger. There are smugglers everywhere and where smugglers go, trouble soon follows…

Travel Guide

The journey across the Atlantic on onboard the Bittersweet:
From the beginnings in chocolate heaven ie Brazil to the journey on the ship to the adventures in Bristol, Cornwall and london, this is a adventure of the highest order and based on true facts which makes it all the more unbelievable.

Brazil – Natal and Recife

Natal was the port from where the Bittersweet started its journey. Where Will gets on board and where the real adventure of chocolate begins. Further down the coast is Recife where MAria gets on board the ship to Natal. Both ports feature heavily in the story as where the chocolate comes from

Maria Graham was a real historical figure who worked for the  Princess Maria de Gloria and wrote books for the also very real John Murray..


As for the journey of chocolate! Richard Fry and his father  Joseph Fry are famous names in the chocolate world and although fictionalised here, their presence in the novel is sumptuous. The way they buy chocolate, seek out the best ships for transporting it, wanting to open it to new markets or discussing the latest  ways of farming cacao or buying the best chocolate presses, this is the story of chocolate and its popularity within society. Yes there was a time before chocolate. who knew? Joseph Fry is particularly keen to have fair trading when he buys his chocolate stock and this would later become the norm in the Fair trade movement.


Many port towns feature in the novel including mainly Bristol, Cornwall (smugglers paradise ) and London.  Bristol is where they meet the Fry family, renowned in the chocolate world

London is the destination for the ship and for the Capt who has dreamed of returning here for many years. Where “London is opened like a book, an familiar illustrated tale”

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

The book came with a bar of chocolate and just as well as I was craving it by the second page. On Starlit Seas had a spell binding cover but the story of chocolate was just one of the most interesting and historically factual I have ever read. I loved meeting Joseph Fry in the novel – it was like meeting an old friend and as for the renowned publisher John Murray,this was like a dream, steeping into the novel and meeting such historically important people.

I admit I hadn’t heard of Maria Graham but have since read up on her as I am intrigued by her achievements and her strength. The journey on the ship was a brilliant adventure and it was  really interesting to find out what such a journey was like. It was so evocative and real that I felt a bit sea sick at times with the struggles and waves, but then maybe it was the fault of the chocolate I was eating.

The story flowed very well from one location to the next and it was such  a fun journey to be on. Brazil with its hot and heavy possibilities, the danger of the open seas and the smog of London. And that hidden batch of chocolate just waiting to be discovered. Who knew chocolate could be so dangerous?

This really is an amazing story and Sara has plotted it well, and painted a tapestry of such a vivid picture with her words. Very cleverly done and I felt I learned so much at the same time.  It’s hard to praise this novel more than to say if you love books and chocolate and want to know more about both, then this is the book for you.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information: Starlit Seas

Author/guide: Sara Sheridan   Destination: Brazil and London   DepartureTime: 1824

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