Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The "Pirate" And The "Governess"

Reading historical romances like Surrender Of A Siren by Tessa Dare always reinforces my joy that I was born in the latter half of the 20th century. While I'm certain there are some corners of the feminist ranks that would disagree with me, the truth is - I had (and still have) options. Women of the 19th century? Yeah, not so much.

Sophia Hathaway has been born, bred, and raised to look pretty, keep her mouth shut, and marry "up." Her family is counting on it. However our girl has bigger ambitions in life - oh, like namely having one. So just before she is to walk down the aisle with Sir Toby, she empties a bank account, and boards a ship heading to Tortola posing as a governess. The plan is to stay out of sight until her 21st birthday when she stands to inherit a chunk of money. Then she won't be forced to marry and can tell everyone to go to the devil.

Benedict "Gray" Grayson is a scoundrel trying to reform his privateer ways. This will be the Aphrodite's first legitimate voyage, and on that score, Gray is looking at the bottom line. Sophia, posing as "Miss Jane Turner," tells him she's a governess and she's been employed by a family he knows on the island. But something about the girl just doesn't add up. Worse still? He's attracted to her, and it certainly doesn't help matters that she's practically begging to be seduced. But he's promised his half-brother, the ship's captain, to behave himself, and that means keeping his hands off the delectable governess.

I was not surprised to learn that Surrender Of A Siren was the one book from this trilogy RWA chose to recognize with a recent RITA nomination. One thing I've learned over the years? There is a huge segment of the romance reading (and writing) community that cannot say no to shipboard romances. Sort of like me with westerns. And category romances. And books with cheesy clinch covers.

Hey, we all have our vices.

Much like Goddess Of The Hunt, this was a second half book for me. I'll be honest, this one was a slow-starter. I'm not sure if it was my mood, or the actual story, or what - but this one failed the pick-up, put-down test for the first half. It was certainly pleasant reading, but it never lit a fire in me to keep going.

The tide turned during the second half. By this point Gray and Sophia are no longer tap-dancing around each other, and the truth they've been hiding from each other begins to tear at the seams. And even with her moments of naivety, God bless her, Sophia has gumption:
"Now there is a falsehood. No one ever wants the truth from me. They just want the pretty package it comes in. If you really wanted to hear the truth, you'd listen. My feelings for you, they're as true a part of me as my name, or my place of birth. But you never want to hear them. You just keep running away."
Between their growing attraction, the realization that they're falling in love, coupled with some added drama that meets them on the high seas, the second half of this story positively cooks. It's also great fun to read about Gray. Here's a guy who has spent his life making selfish decisions, skirting the law, and seducing women of varying reputations - and now he's getting his head turned by a pretty, innocent governess who likes to get lost in fantastical daydreams.

This was a pleasant read once I got over the hurdle of the slow start. Not the greatest historical romance I've ever read, but a nice addition to the trilogy, and an impressive sophomore effort. The author also does a lovely job of setting the table for the final installment of the trilogy, A Lady Of Persuasion.

Final Grade = B-


Katharina said...

I preferred it to the first book in the series, but I belong to those with a definite weakness for nautical romances (which doesn't mean I haven't DNFed my fair share of them). I think it had one of the most daring love scenes I've ever encountered in mainstream romance, a virgin heroine that masturbates in front of the hero. I can't stand those romances with heroines who have never touched themselves down there and up here (do they ever get clean when taking a bath, or are they so pure they don't get dirty?), though I know that masturbation was a huge taboo not 50 years ago. It was a fun read and IIRC a B+ for me.

Tracy said...

I have to admit that I'm a shipboard romance lover. I'm not sure what it is - and I have been known to pass them by - but I've been known to buy a few. :)

And I really liked this one.

JamiSings said...

Thanks so much, Wendy, between this and the over done one, I've totally got The Love Boat theme stuck in my head!

o/` Love --- exciting and new
Come aboard, we're expecting you
Love, life's sweetest reward
Let it flow, it floats back to you

Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure
Your mind on a new romance

And love --- won't hurt anymore
It's an open smile on a friendly shore
It's love
Welcome aboard
It's love! o/`

As for disagreeing - I have to start off by saying I'm not a "feminist" because I've met too many psychos who call themselves such as an excuse to treat men worse then women were ever treated. I wish there was another term for women who want to be treated with respect but also believe men should be treated the way women want to be treated.

Does that even make any sense?

I do have opinions and probably would end up an old spinster or locked up in an assylum back then. However, I do love the fact men back then weren't afraid to tell a woman she was pretty! I meet nothing but wimps and whiners who think that women have to make all the first moves and that men shouldn't speak until spoken too. UG!

That's probably why I like time travel romances. Modern woman meets not so modern man and they make it work based on love and mutual respect and he isn't afraid of her!

I'll stop insanely rambling now. Too much caffiene and Love Boat earworm!

Wendy said...

Katharina: And it was a daring love scene that fit with the heroine's character - a girl hungry for adventure, excitement and....a life.

Tracy: I liked this one too. Didn't madly love it - but did enjoy it.

Jami: And now you have successfully inflicted that earworm on to me. I can't get the dang Love Boat theme song out of my head!!! ARGHHHH!!!!

Seriously, they just DON'T write TV theme songs like they used to.

JamiSings said...

Wendy - All day today I've thought about begging Portia to write an erotic romance about a 30-something woman who goes on a cruise because she loves The Love Boat so much, but ends up seasick and getting some special care from the ship's doctor - or bartender - or the main musician.... LOL

I've successfully banished the earworm by listening to Neil Diamond's Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show. However, you're right, they don't write good tv themes anymore, except for Monk and Psych. Also commercial jingles suck too.

Ooo - Crunchy Granola Suite just came on!

Anne Pages said...

I love nautical romances and suspense-full books. I have a couple but I will be looking out for this one.