Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Week is over --YEAH, and March Madness is Over -- YEAH . . .

Last week -- Holy Week at our house -- is now over and yesterday was a serious resting day!! But that means that I can now get into some heavy-duty reading after having so many distractions. I got through two books which I am reviewing for The Book Binge, read the second Tessa Dare book in the Goddess Series (reviewed below), the first and second in Olivia Parker's series entitled The Bride Hunt Ball and To Wed A Wicked Earl, -- not a bad haul for one day. It made it easier to get through the day without thinking about the aching back and the tired muscles from all the Easter extras.

AND . . . that infernal annual college basketball tournament it over, thank you very much. After being married to a sports FANATIC for all these years, it is still a relief to not have to read to the background noises of a championship basketball game. (My team lost by two points anyway.) So now I can concentrate on the really important things like books, books, and more books. The granddaughters are on Spring vacation and will be here for a day or two, so had to read while I had the day all to myself!

Tessa Dare has become one of those authors whose books seem to call out to me. Having begun my big-time reading binges with historical romances, it is not a great leap to realize that this genre still holds some real "pull" for my reading cravings. I reviewed the first of this Goddess series -- Goddess of the Hunt -- for The Book Binge and I really liked it. So I was able to get a copy of this second book and started out this week with it.

Sophia Jane Hathaway figured prominently in the first book -- Ms Dare set up her character very well there -- and as that story is ending, Sophia has disappeared, left her fiance and her family, walked out on the fru-fru haut ton wedding that was being planned, leaving a note that she has run off with her drawing master Gervaise. Truth to tell, no such person exists, and this second book begins with Sophia seeking passage on the Aphrodite, a Jamaican sailing vessel leaving England bound for Tortula in Jamaica. However, on this adventure she is known as Miss Jane Turner. She has managed to con the bank manager out of 500 pounds of her trust fund, strapped it to her body, and talked the owner of the Aphrodite into taking her aboard and transporting her, convincing him that she is a governess bound for a position with the Walthams, cousins to her friend Lucinda Waltham, Countess of Kendall. The ship owner, "Gray" Grayson, formerly a privateer during the Napoleonic Wars, has determined that he is becoming "legitimate" and is now beginning to live as a gentleman, having connections through his mother to the English aristocracy, and wanting a London Season for his sister Isabel Grayson.

Dare has set this story completely within the context of this voyage and all its challenges with weather and the problems of being the only woman aboard without a proper chaperone. Gray is a delightful character, multilayered and complex, with a history that might have been daunting to overcome if it were not for his inner strength. But like all humans, he fights with his past and his inner demons. Joss Grayson, captain of the ship is a solemn, withdrawn character, half-brother to Gray, widower, with the same father, but illegitimately conceived by a slave mother. He and Gray had sailed the Seven Seas as privateers, and this is his opportunity to captain a merchant vessel and to move forward after the death of his wife. The tension between the two brothers is an interesting part of the context and background that swirls around the developing attraction and relationship between Sophia and Gray.

Sophia wants a life that is not "proper" and ordered by a restrictive set of society rules. She is artistic, talented, hopeful, naive, passionate, and bound and determined to live her life in her own way. She is fully aware that by running off as she has done, without a proper chaperone, jilting a man of the ton and damaging her social reputation, she is no longer welcome in London Society and thus must find a way to move forward with her life. She is beautiful in that English Rose sort of way, and she is bone weary of being paraded and "put up for sale" by parents that are using her as an entre into the upper eschelons of English aristocratic social circles. She is only a few weeks away from reaching legal age when she will have full control over her trust fund, and she has chosen to set her own life course, secure in the knowledge that she will have the financial security of those 20,000 pounds sterling.

Lots of color in this story, lots of wonderful characters, lots of variants in pesonalities that give this tale its dimensions. Both Sophia and Gray are living just on the edge of polite society, but both are also so keenly aware of the other's penchant for wanting to make one's own rules in life. Gray has promised his brother that he will keep his hands to himself where Sophia is concerned but their attraction to one another is marked and felt by all aboard ship. There are the usual misunderstandings and miscommunications that seem to be particularly present in romance fiction -- these are not too extensive and do not bog down the story to any great degree. The sexual tension does increase at a steady rate and I think Dare manages that well. The twists and turns at the end are fascinating because they not only bring Sophia's story fully into the light in an interesting way, but Dare finds a way to set up the characters for the next book in her series very adroitly. This is, in my opinion, the mark of a writer that has truly learned one's craft.

I liked this book a great deal -- read it from start to finish and didn't have the urge to flip through bunches of pages as is sometimes the case. It is a very good, solid and well-written historical romance. I give this book a 4.25 out of 5 rating. Oh, and By The Way, if you would like a very good review of the third book in the series, be sure to stop by to http://www.ahhhhhromance.blogspot.com/ (Tracy's Place) and check in on that and some of the other books she has read recently.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

*sigh* I loved Gray. He just made this book for me.

And thanks for the mention. :)