Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recent Reads

From one end of the spectrum to the other

It’s rare that I have two such different responses to books by the same author. The first one I read is an keeper and the second I’m sad to say will probably be a DNF. Though I read the keeper first, I’ll start with the probable DNF; just so we end on a happy note.

Captain Sinister’s Lady by Darlene Marshall

Why this one: I loved the previous book I read by her and this one sounded like adorable follow-up.

Steam Level: Chances are good this one will be a DNF and I didn’t get far enough to reach steam level

Blurb: Morgan Roberts, AKA Captain Sinister, dreams of leaving the sea and running away to farm, but when the Zephyr comes across a damaged ship wallowing in the Florida Straits, it's just too good an opportunity for any self-respecting privateer to pass up.

Amanda Stephenson is a widow traveling from Yorkshire to Charleston in the 1820's to set up her soap-making business. It's a grand adventure, just as she's always dreamed—until her ship is boarded by the crew of the Zephyr. Amanda’s plans for her future do not include large, hairy, uncouth pirates.

Morgan Roberts has his work cut out for him, but he's prepared to try his most piratical tricks if it will convince the luscious widow to become Captain Sinister's Lady.

My Thoughts: As I said, this one sounds adorable – a pirate who wants to run away from sea and become a farmer. Who could resist such a premised based on that and a love of a previously read book. Not me, that’s for sure. But alas, I was SO disappointed with what I’ve read so far. My favourite books are the ones where I can feel the characters, where they almost seem like real, fully developed characters, but neither Morgan or Amanda felt like real people to me. I don’t really know how to explain why not, except maybe they weren’t developed enough – we didn’t really get to know them that much so far. Amanda is a widow whose parents had both died but I didn’t get a sense that none of the deaths affected her; they didn’t shape or form her personality at all. There wasn’t anything wrong with her, there just wasn’t that much to her.

I had the same issue with Morgan. At least as far as I got, it was briefly mentioned that he was an orphan but again, this didn’t seem to affect him all that much. For a pirate – or rather privateer – he’s actually kind of, well, boring. And one doesn’t like to read about a boring pirate. They should be larger than life. Maybe not quite as large as life as Captain Jack Sparrow – he’s a difficult one to match. But despite having a great pirate or rather privateer name, Morgan just didn’t do it for me. It didn’t help either that he was described as having a full bushy beard, I am so not a fan of hairy heroes. Even worse, later on he is described as having very bush eyebrows and all I could think was “EEEWW, EEWW, EEWW, Andy Rooney, yuck!”

Now all of this I could have overlooked but then the hero does something that took him out of hero range for me. He wants to “court” Amanda and rather than just ‘court” her, he arranges to have them dropped off on a deserted island for a few days so they could bond. But this turned into a TSTL thing to do as it was kind of a pirate hang out and at one point some bad pirates showed up, risking their lives. I don’t like a TSTL heroine and I also don’t like a TSTL hero.

Combine those factors along with the fact that I have way to many books that remain unread to keep going on one I’m not really enjoying and you end up with a DNF. Maybe if I hadn’t enjoyed the first one so much, maybe if the hero shaved his beard off (which he probably does later, but too little too late), if I could get a younger Andy Rooney out of my head, this might not have been such a disappointment and I might have continued.

Grade: DNF

Sea Change by Darlene Marshall

Why this one: I have meant to try her for a while now but she is primarily an ebook author and I didn’t have an ereader. By the time I did get one, I had forgotten about her until a review came up at AAR and some discussion of this book on the same site. The review was good, the posters enjoyed the book and I love a good pirate – excuse me, that would be privateer – book so I took the plunge.

Steam Level: Very nice cozy temperature

Blurb: American privateer Captain David Fletcher needs a surgeon for his wounded brother. But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs take priority over skill, and Captain Fletcher whisks the prisoner aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he'll be walking the plank. Charley Alcott's medical skills are being put to the test in a life--or--death situation--Charley's life as well as the patient's. Even if Charley can save the captain's brother, there will still be hell to pay, and maybe a plank to walk, when Captain Fletcher learns Charley is really Charlotte Alcott. A war is raging on the world's oceans, and two enemies will fight their own battles and their attraction to each other as they undergo a sea change neither of them is expecting, but cannot deny...

My Thoughts: I went into this book without much expectations. Though I’ve wanted to try this author for a while now, I hadn’t seen any reviews or anything for her books. I just kind of liked her on line voice and knew she wrote about pirates. And I came out completely charmed with this book.

Charlotte or Charley, is a young woman on her way to Jamaica. She has learned medicine at her father’s knew and after his death wants to continue practicing medicine. But she’s a woman and at this point in history, women doctors are, to say the very least, extremely rare. So she is disguised as a male while sailing and acting as a doctor for the captain’s pregnant wife. Their ship is hailed and Charley is stolen by a privateer, one David Fletcher, who is desperate for a doctor to save his younger brother’s life. Charley does indeed save his brother’s life and David realizes the benefits of having a doctor on board and decides to keep her. It’s a riot though as it takes him quite some time to figure out that Charley is really a Charlotte. In the meantime she treats his men for a wide variety of ailments, including STD’s.

The ‘girl disguised as a guy’ is fairly familiar and can either work very well or fall flat. For me it worked very well. A few people including David’s brother figure out that he’s a she, but David is clueless. This makes for some hilarious moments that had me laughing out loud. He can tell that Charley is attracted to him and that creeps him out. It gets even worse when he has ‘notions’ about her. He’s a big bad privateer don’t you know. There is one scene where he arranges for Charley to gain some ‘experience’ that is priceless. David really likes Charley as a person too and it’s nice to see them developing a friendship first. He can talk to Charley about things that he can’t talk to with many people. And he is somewhat bemused that he doesn’t intimidate her like he does so many others. She’ll stand up to him and give it right back to him. Not many people do that to him so he is intrigued that this young man who hasn’t even started shaving yet isn’t afraid of him.

I loved David, loved him, loved him, loved him. Once he finds out that Charley is Charlotte, his first reaction is horror that she is doing this doctor thing. He expects her to start acting like women should act. But eventually he realizes how good she is at what she does and how important it is to her so he accepts her as she is. He’s an alpha type hero, but an alpha with some softness in him.

And Charley is equally wonderful. She is making the best of this unusual path life has given her and she excels at what she does. When she finally makes it to Jamaica she really does give it her best effort to adapt to the lifestyle that women of her time lead. But she is just too different. She has experienced life to its fullest and doesn’t want to go back into the box.

I was most impressed with this book and while the first book here was a disappointment, Sea Change is her latest book so I hold out much hope that some of the others will make me as happy as this one did.

Grade: 5 out of 5


Phyl said...

I'm with you on Sea Change. Really liked it. And I hope there's a sequel involving David's brother. I'll skip the other one; like you, I have way too many books to read as it is!

Kristie (J) said...

Phyllis, wasn't Sea Change a real treat? I don't know if there would be a sequel or not since she kind of gave the end of his story, but I really did like his character too. And it wasn't that Captain Sinister was a bad book, it just didn't come close to Sea Change for me. I have another one of her books to read but I think I will give it more time in between before reading it.

Anonymous said...

Since I loved Sea Change I'm disappointed to hear that Captain Sinister didn't work for you. I know she has other books in her backlist, I hope a few of them are worthwhile!

nath said...

Interesting that same author and completely different reaction to her books. And you say Captain Sinister's Lady is a follow-up to Sea Change? Yikes :(

Glad you enjoyed Sea Change so much! Ames loved it, so it's on my radar :)

Jorja Tabu said...

Pirate romance! I love it! This is a completely new subgenre for me (I am constantly surprised lately at all of the awesome subsets of romance there are, now that I'm looking). Thank you for your thorough reviews.

I wanted to compliment you too on the artwork for your title banner--it's gorgeous. Did you create it, or find it in some lush corner of the internet somewhere? It's amazing.

orannia said...

*dusts self*

Interesting. Good to know it was her latest book that works for you - that bodes well for future books :)

Alyssa from Best Books to Read said...

I like you including the "Steam Level" point of view :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you loved Sea Change. It really was a great book with fabulous characters. Just good stuff.

Tracy said...

Uh that comment was from me, Tracy. I'm logged in so I have no idea why it went anonymous. Weird. lol