Thursday, February 28, 2013

Best Pirate, Privateer and High Seas Romances!

Who doesn’t love a good pirate or privateer saga? All that capturing, swashbuckling and romancing on the high seas—oh yes! My blood is boiling just thinking about it. While there are lots of pirate and privateer romances out there, not all are great ones. Here’s my list of those I have read and rated 4 and 5 stars. Some do not have pirates as such, but may have a swashbuckling sea captain or a privateer. In almost every case, part of the story takes place on the high seas.  

·       Across a Moonlit Sea, The Iron Rose and Following Sea, Pirate Wolf trilogy by Marsha Canham
·       A Kiss in the Wind by Jennifer Bray-Weber
·       A Pirate’s Pleasure from the North American Women trilogy by Heather Graham Pozzessere
·       Bound by the Heart by Marsha Canham
·       Broken Wing by Judith James
·       Call of the Sea by Rebecca Hart
·       Captain of My Heart by Danelle Harmon
·       Crimson Rapture by Jennifer Horsman
·       Desire in Disguise by Rebecca Brandewyne
·       Desire in the Sun by Karen Robards
·       Devil's Embrace and Devil's Daughter by Catherine Coulter
·       Embrace and Conquer by Jennifer Blake
·       Fields of the Sun by Nadine Crenshaw
·       Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey
·       Island Flame and Sea Fire by Karen Robards
·       Lady Vixen by Shirlee Busbee
·       Magic Embrace by Jennifer Horsman
·       Master of My Dreams by Danelle Harmon
·       Master of Seduction by Kinley MacGregor
·       My Wicked Pirate by Rona Sharon
·       Passion’s Joy and the sequel, Virgin Star by Jennifer Horsman
·       Passion’s Ransom by Betina Krahn
·       Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer
·       Pirate Royale by Cordia Byers
·       Sea Mistress by Candace McCarthy
·       Sea Mistress by Nancy Morse
·       Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale
·       Silver Storm by Cynthia Wright
·       The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole
·       The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss
·       The Game by Brenda Joyce
·       The Hawk and the Dove by Virginia Henley
·       The Hidden Heart by Laura Kinsale
·       The Pirate and the Pagan by Virginia Henley
·       The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries
·       The Pride of the King by Amanda Hughes
·       The Rogue Pirate’s Bride by Shana Galen
·       The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake
·       The Wind and the Sea by Marsha Canham
·       The Windflower by Laura London (aka Sharon and Tom Curtis)
·       Till Dawn Tames the Night by Megan McKinney
·       Treasured Embrace by Marsha Bauer
·       Velvet Chains by Constance O’Banyan
·       With One Look by Jennifer Horsman

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Review: Betina Krahn’s PASSION’S RANSOM – Absorbing American Revolutionary Story of a Smart Heroine who Becomes a Pirate Captain’s Woman

First published in 1989, this is a “keeper” story that blends the period of the American Revolution and the pirate/privateer culture. Krahn weaves a compelling, absorbing tale with great emotion (slowly developed), rich layering of endearing characters, meaningful introspection, a believable plot, detailed historical elements and subtle humor. PASSION’S RANSOM is yet another one that quickly grabbed my attention and held it to the last page.

Set in 1768 (prologue) and then ten years later in 1778, this is the story of Gabriel Prescott, a baron’s younger son who was playing the smuggler, rebelling against both his father and England’s taxation, when the pirate Bastian Cane captures Gabriel and forces him into the scoundrel’s services. Now, ten years later, the two are partnered and our hero has become the pirate captain Raider Prescott. Hoping to find a northern market for their goods, they sail to Philadelphia where Bastian captures Blythe Woolrich expecting she is the daughter of a wealthy merchant and planning to hold her for ransom. Unhappily, they discover she comes with no money.

Raider calls Blythe “Wool-witch” for her headstrong nature, but in reality she is a young, virtuous woman who has been carrying the heavy load of responsibility for her somewhat bizarre family. Soon Raider and his crew find her irresistible and the very responsible Blythe finds herself falling in love with the pirate captain.

Krahn has created a wonderful pirate crew…not terribly debauched like a certain band who will appear in the story, but still genuinely salty dogs of the era with unique quirks.

One of my favorite lines from the book, spoken by Raider to Blythe when she regrets having to leave the island where they shared their love: “Everything worth having can be carried in your heart.”

This one won’t disappoint!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Review: Constance O’Banyon’s VELVET CHAINS – Superb Storytelling in this Privateer Adventure from the American Revolution

Set during the American Revolution, 1779-1781, this tells the story of Lady Season Chatsworth, a young English beauty who fakes a tumble in the hay with the stable boy on their English estate to avoid a dreaded arranged marriage. Her reputation in tatters, her father the duke sends her away to America to marry her cousin, Sir Edmund Kensworthy, captain of His Majesty’s Guards in New York. But her reputation as a loose woman, false though it may be, has followed her to the Colonies and both Edmund and his handsome friend Lucas Carrington, to whom Season is immediately attracted, assume she is free with her favors, much to her chagrin. Meanwhile, there is an American privateer called “the Raven” terrorizing the British and winning the praise of the patriots.

This is a great story of a worthy heroine who is constantly faced with the foibles of men who underestimate her. She put up with so much one could only wonder at the wisdom of a 19-year-old girl. When she is captured by the Raven and held for exchange of an American prisoner, the adventure begins and Season finds herself in love with the masked man who takes her innocence.

O’Banyon did a good job of integrating the varying emotions of the Colonists as the British lived among them. Our hero is a spy as well as a privateer and I loved that! This is one that will hold your interest. And though I might not have wanted to wait until the very end for Season to learn The Truth, I cannot deny I was absorbed enough to hang in there.

A few nits: With her careful attention to historical details, it was surprising O’Banyon got the forms of address wrong for the British nobility. If her father was the Duke of Chatsworth, their surname would not be “Chatsworth,” and she would not be “Lady Chatsworth” (that would have been her mother); she would be “Lady Season (surname).” Also, I just have to say that naming your daughter “Season” in England at that time (when “Season” referred to the London social season) would be like naming an American girl “Cotillion.” Seemed bizarre and it distracted. But this was minor in the scheme of the whole story. I recommend it as a classic bodice-ripping privateer tale—and a patriotic romance!

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Review: Cordia Byers’s PIRATE ROYALE – Absorbing 17th Century Pirate Story

A classic tale of adventure and love, first published in 1986, it is set in the late 17th century and featuring (as a character) the pirate and privateer Henry Morgan and his buccaneers who successfully attacked the Spanish settlements of Puerto Principe in Cuba and Porto Bello (in what is today Panama).

She was John Carrington’s daughter, and as such, Royale Carrington commanded the respect of the seamen who served under her when she dressed as a man and wielded a sword with fierce expertise. As captain of her own ship, she was prepared to fight King Charles II’s wardship and refusal to grant her a letter of marque and took to the sea as a pirate robbing the Spanish of their gold. But on the night before they were to set sail, Royale was kidnapped by men who sailed under the pirate El Diablo thinking she’d make a fine offering for their mysterious captain. El Diablo asks for a kiss to release her but then takes her innocence instead (seduction, not rape). He decides to keep her, but she has other plans.

One of the things I loved about this story was that Royale got away from the pirate who captured her. I just love it when the feisty heroine outsmarts the arrogant male who thinks he will have his way. El Diablo (who is really Sir Bran Langston on a mission for King Charles) soon realizes that the young virgin he has deflowered is the ward of the King he has been sent to protect.

This is a well-written tale with lots of action—a classic tale of pirates and love in the Caribbean as the British fight the Spanish for control. Byer does a wonderful job of integrating the real history of Henry Morgan’s escapades and his personality into the story. I loved the heroine who was strong, smart yet very feminine. And the hero, while certainly not perfect, was at least consistent in his pursuit of the elusive female pirate who takes her revenge by seizing ships in El Diablo’s name. If you like pirate romance and tales in the Caribbean I recommend this one, though you’ll have to buy it in paperback, used as I did.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Review: Jennifer Bray-Weber’s A KISS IN THE WIND – Well Written Saga of a Dysfunctional Pirate Family and the Brethren in the Caribbean

Well written, action-packed and reflecting considerable research, this gritty tale of a dysfunctional pirate family held my interest.

Set in 1726, beginning in Puerto Plata, Hispaniola, this is the story of Marisol Castellan, independent and unafraid, who sneaks off her pirate father's ship to intercept a message meant for a rival pirate captain, hoping to locate her younger brother Monte. In the process, she kills a man and runs into pirate captain Blade Tyburn for whom the message was intended. Blade is not pleased to discover the beautiful thief has also stolen a precious cameo. The note, which he recovers, provides the location of a silver-laden ship he and two other pirate captains are supposed to be guarding. When he departs to catch that ship, Marisol wants to go along to find Monte who she has heard is on that ship. However, a big surprise is waiting for them when they find the silver ship.

I liked the sparing between Marisol and Blade; the dialog was excellent, even clever. The shipboard scenes were real with correct terminology (so refreshing). However, I’m not fond of sexually experienced heroines in historical romance (I assume this was done to facilitate a hotter love scene). Nor did the dripping hot candle wax onto sensitive body parts or love over a cold boulder appeal. While the lust between Marisol and Blade was convincing, I had more trouble believing either came to feel real love but there’s no denying that it was exciting along the way.

If you’re looking for an authentic pirate romance, one with all the grit, killing and savagery, this one has it. And the writing is superb.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Review: Nancy Morse’s SEA MISTRESS – Naïve, Headstrong Young Woman Meets Jaded Pirate for an Interesting Romance!

Set in New Orleans in 1813 during the War of 1812, this is the story of Raven De Lys who in order to save her family’s plantation seeks to recover the De Lys sapphire, a very costly gem her wastrel brother lost. In the process she must also search for a much-loved family servant, Toby, who’s gone missing. All that takes her to the high seas, to privateering and into the arms of the pirate, Dominique Sauvinet, who is known to have the jewel.

I was initially confused when despite the introduction of the handsome and arrogant pirate, Dominique Sauvinet (the hero according to the book’s description), innocent Raven was suddenly in bed with a cad named Andre Dumaine, having made a bargain with him to give him her virtue for locating her lost servant. That made me wonder until I realized Andre and Dominique must be one and the same. In the course of pursuing both her lost servant and the lost jewel, Raven is befriended by a merchant named Maurice D’Arcy who, while lacking funds to help her regain her beloved plantation, somehow finds the money to finance a ship and crew to enable her to become a privateer captain (lack of experience aside) to sail into the pirate’s lair in Barataria. Lacking any Letter of Marque, she is really a pirate (though once she joins with Dominique, she seems to forget she has a ship or a crew.)

I have to say it was a bit hard to believe that a virgin in 1813 would give her virtue to a virtual stranger with no hesitation in order to locate a lost servant; and when she wakes up alone the next morning, feels no remorse and decides she is suddenly in love with the cad. She was brave and reckless one moment and nearly stupid the next. Ah well…despite that, the story drew me in and, setting aside the improbable, I enjoyed it.

Morse writes beautifully and is clearly a good storyteller. Her story reflects deep research on the War of 1812 and New Orleans and I really liked that. For all those things, she gets full marks. And the SEA MISTRESS has all the elements I like: strong alpha male hero, interesting history, high seas adventure and a winning plot.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

New Review: Danelle Harmon’s MASTER OF MY DREAMS – Unusual 18th Century Romance with an Irish Heroine

This is part of Harmon’s Heroes of the Sea series (and the first if you’re reading them in chronological order). It begins in Ireland in 1762, but then moves to the British colonies in America (Boston) on the eve of the Revolutionary War in 1775.

It’s the story of Deirdre O’Devir, who as a young girl in Ireland, witnessed an English lieutenant (our hero, Christian Lord) press her brother into service in the British Navy. She vowed she would kill the lieutenant and bring her brother back to Ireland as she swore to her dying mother. Thirteen years later, on her way to Boston to enlist the aid of her cousin who is in the British Navy, she ends up on a ship captained by the same Christian Lord she has vowed to kill.

All that seemed a pretty straight historical setting until I encountered Lord’s crew on the “Hell-Ship.” Captain Lord has been sent out to straighten out a crew right out of McHale’s Navy, who are committed to driving all their captains mad. Among others, there’s a Scot who wears a kilt and plays the bagpipes, and a young woman from Boston, who is hidden away by his men and aspires to be a French whore. She calls herself Delight Foley (as in delight-fully) and her one goal in life is to become the woman of the “Irish Pirate.” In the meantime, she is servicing all the crew. There’s also a marine guard who habitually sleeps at his post, and a spaniel who is having puppies in the captain’s cabin. Not your average British Naval warship and not your classic historical romance.

With all that, there is some great action with a battle at sea. Eventually the story settles into a very well written historical romance that gives us a glimpse of the early days of the Revolutionary War in America with the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Minutemen. Throughout the story we experience the heroine’s love for her native Ireland. A multifaceted, worthy tale with a bit of fancy.

Heroes of the Sea series:

Captain of My Heart (1992)
Master of My Dreams (1993)
My Lady Pirate (1994)
Taken By Storm (1995)
Wicked at Heart (1996)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What I Learned About Love from Reading Romance Novels

There is much to be gained from reading romance novels—more than just a good story to curl up with on a rainy night. For those of us who love the sweeping historical sagas, there can be lessons in love as well as history. If I ever write a book about this, the list below may well be my chapter titles. For now, here’s the skinny version of what I have learned about love from reading romance novels:

1. Love is worth fighting for.

2. Love is worth waiting for.

3. Loving someone means being vulnerable; sometimes it means pain.

4. The most difficult person may be the most perfect for you.

5. Men of great character are secure enough to choose a strong, successful woman.

6. In great strength is great gentleness when accompanied by unselfish love.

7. When a man is jealous and protective, it may mean he cares.

8. Absence really does make the heart that loves grow fonder.

9. Making up often requires begging forgiveness.

10. To know all is to forgive much.

11. We are all a product of our beginnings so it is important to tell our story.

12. A single conversation can reveal the heart.

13. Life’s challenges require us to change and to grow if we are to love deeply and unselfishly.

14. It is important to say “I love you” with words as well as actions.

15. Making love with the person you love can be more than physically satisfying; it can be a beautiful expression of love.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Review: Penelope Williamson’s ONCE IN A BLUE MOON - Heart Rending Story of a Great Love!

If you've read KEEPER OF THE DREAM, you're already a fan of Penelope Williamson. ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, which was her next book after KEEPER is equally wonderful. It's the story of unrequited love that refuses to die no matter the tests it must endure.

The story was inspired by the love of Williamson’s grandparents who were kept apart for six years, but then loved for another 65 years. Here’s what she had to say about them:

“It was in 1902 that Elizabeth and Peter first met and fell in love. But Elizabeth’s father forbade the match for six long years, until Peter could prove himself good enough for his daughter. Together at last, they had nine children and sixty-five wonderful years as husband and wife. They died in their nineties, within two years of each other, as much in love as they had always been. A love that wouldn’t give up…”

The story of ONCE IN A BLUE MOON begins in 1815. Jessalyn Letty, a wild flame haired girl raised by her grandmother on the Cornish highlands above the sea, is a young woman of character and a brave heart that never varies throughout the story. I loved her for that. When she is still a tall, gawky 16 year old, she meets McCady Trelawny, then in his early 20s, and youngest brother of the infamous Trelawny noblemen known for living lives of debauchery and dying young and in debt. Wounded while becoming a war hero defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, McCady returns home to Cornwall with a vision for a steam locomotive that can carry passengers, but he is too poor to invest much in the idea. His cousin, Clarence, who could be his illegitimate half brother, joins McCady in the venture, but stands in McCady's shadow determined to one day gain great wealth that will bring him the status he craves and the woman he wants--Jessalyn. But once Jessalyn meets McCady, her heart is lost forever to the handsome dark haired rogue. Her love will be tested by years of separation and much more.

This is a compelling love story and very well told with many twists and turns, all naturally woven in with great characters and well developed historic details that make you feel like you're living it. You will laugh (her 16 year old antics are quite incredible); and you will cry as you endure her years of loving and losing McCady.

You simply must read this novel...and trust me, you won't be disappointed! It’s a great tale from the queen of unrequited love.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love to Last a Lifetime: Show Business Marriages That Lasted

On this occasion when we celebrate love, I thought it fitting to recognize marriages that have lasted in the difficult environment of show business. In Hollywood, where forces conspire against a lasting relationship, particularly when both parties are actors, some marriages have endured for a lifetime. Here’s a list to encourage you. It did me.

Charlton and Lydia Heston (pictured) - 64 years, ending with his death in 2008
James and Frances Cagney - 63 years, ending with his death in 1986
Ronald and Nancy Reagan - 52 years, ending with his death in 2004
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans – 51 years, ending with his death in 1998
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward - 50 years, ending with his death in 2008
Gregory and Veronique Peck - 47 years, ending with his death in 2003
Jimmy and Gloria Stewart - 44 years, ending with her death in 1994
Susan Hayward and Eaton Chalkey - 39 years, ending with his death in 1966
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III - 36 years, ending with her death in 1982

And my personal favorite from an earlier time:

Annie Oakley and Frank Butler (from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show) who met when, as a young teen, she defeated him in a shooting match. He began courting her thereafter (broadminded man!) and they were married in 1876, just days after her 16th birthday. They remained married for 50 years until her death in 1926. Frank was so brokenhearted when she died he stopped eating and died 18 days later. Truly theirs was a love to last a lifetime.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Love to Inspire for Valentine's Day...Winston & Clementine Churchill

Winston & Clementine Churchill were married for 56 years from 1908 until his death in 1965. For one of my posts this Valentine’s week, I thought to begin by taking a look at this letter from Winston Churchill to Clementine’s mother upon his proposal of marriage (note I changed “vy” to “very” to make it more understandable):

“My dear Lady Blanche Hozier,
Clementine will be my ambassador today. I have asked her to marry me & we both ask you to give your consent & your blessing. You have known my family for so many years that there is no need to say very much in this letter. I am not rich nor powerfully established, but your daughter loves me & with that love I feel strong enough to assume this great & sacred responsibility; & I think I can make her happy & give her a station & career worthy of her beauty and her virtues.

Marlborough is very much in hopes that you will be able to come down here today & he is telegraphing to you this morning. That would indeed be very charming & I am sure Clementine will persuade you.

With sincere affection
Yours ever,
Winston S. Churchill”

On September 12, 1908, at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, Clementine made the wise decision to marry Winston Churchill. He was more than a decade older and already a seasoned Parliamentarian, and obviously a humble man at this point who would go on to become perhaps the greatest statesman of the 20th century. (Is it any wonder that I named my son after him?)

We may never know all that Clementine did to contribute to her husband's success and leadership of the Western world during WWII, but the love of such a woman surely held him up in his "black dog" days.

Truly a love to inspire…

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It’s Valentine’s Week on my blog!

Yes, it’s finally here! The romance lover’s excuse to celebrate love! I’ll be presenting a few articles to inspire you, reviews of romantic love stories and some insights about what I learned about love from reading romance novels. Come back each day for more good stuff!

Let’s get started with a quote from Ellen O'Connell's Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold:

"...Anne believed she would in the end hear the words she, like all women,
longed to hear, but if he never spoke of it, she would be content with this.
He loved her, and she knew it, and he was capable of such tenderness it left
her trembling, overwhelmed by her own love for him"

“Love” defined by Virginia Henley in Dream Lover:

“Love is a journey from the first blush of physical attraction
to a marriage of souls”

And a quote from Henley’s The Dragon and The Jewel where William Marshall reflects on his young wife, Eleanor Plantagenet:

“So this was love then—wanting to give only pleasure to the beloved;
constantly searching your mind for love tokens that would bring a smile
to her lips or a sparkle to her eyes. He deeply regretted it had come so
late in life, but since his heart’s desire was Eleanor who was so much younger
than he, it could have been no other way. He was grateful it had come at all.”

Lastly, the definition of “heartfire” from Zack in Penelope Williamson’s Heart of the West, words spoken by a man who loved his brother’s wife and knew he couldn’t have her:

"A heartfire, Clementine my darlin', is when you want someone, when
you need her so damn bad, not only in your bed but in your life, that
you're willin' to burn--".

Thursday, the 14th, I’ll be posting "What I Learned About Love From Reading Romance Novels!”

Friday, February 8, 2013

New Review: Rebecca Hart’s CALL OF THE SEA – Unusual 17th Century Historical Romance on the High Seas—Pirates, Privateers and a Selkie!

Set in the 17th century in England, Gibraltar and on the sea, this is the story of Elysandra (“Ellie”) Winters, the young daughter of a ship’s captain who has always wanted to join her father in his life at sea. Daniel O'Rourke, who lives part of his life in the sea as a selkie, upon seeing the love between the 10 year-old Ellie and her father, decides to take a job with Ellie’s father on his ship, Siren's Call. However, his first assignment is not as the cabin boy he will become, but to protect the captain’s daughter.

Soon, Ellie’s father sends her away to school. After five years, Ellie decides she’s had enough, and at 15, disguises herself as a boy and runs away to sea on a competitor’s ship, much to the dismay of her mother.

Years later, after Daniel has been at sea with Captain Winters and promoted to First Mate, and Ellie has become a favored crewmember on another ship, the leader of a band of bloodthirsty Corsair pirates murders Captain Winters off the coast of Gibraltar. Ellie’s captain saves her father’s ship, and Daniel and Ellie are thrown together to seek vengeance for the death of the man they both loved.

Hart weaves an intriguing tale and seamlessly integrates the fantasy element so it seems a part of the reality. Daniel is a worthy hero who accepts his lot in life but works hard to attain the approval of Ellie’s father—and Ellie’s love. One had to feel sorry for Ellie who lost years of her father’s love thinking he did not understand her. But, alas, such is life. The story has some great action scenes and some tender moments. I do think that the ending seemed a bit rushed and would have liked an added last chapter, but all in all, it was very enjoyable. I recommend it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Spend Valentine's Day in Regency London with The Shamrock & The Rose!

My new short story for Valentine's Day (and St. Patrick's Day!) is here!

Set in London in 1818, it's the story of Rose Collingwood, daughter of a baron, who wanted to play Portia in The Merchant of Venice. To accept the part at the Theatre-Royal at Haymarket, the very proper young lady assumes the disguise of Miss Lily Underwood, the actress. Who knew all of London would soon be at her feet sending her love notes? One such Valentine goes awry only to be found by the dashing Irish barrister, Morgan O'Connell. Though he would have seduced the actress, Morgan must court the lady. Given three choices much like Portia's suitors, can she resist the handsome Irish rogue?

Available on Amazon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Review: Shana Galen’s THE ROGUE PIRATE’S BRIDE – Entertaining Lighter Pirate Tale with a Dashing French Privateer!

This is one of Galen’s Sons of Revolution romances, set in 1802, beginning in France but also with scenes in Gibraltar and onboard a sloop and British naval ship. It tells the story of Sebastien Harcourt, marquis de Valere (aka Captain Cutlass), a privateer sailing under letters of marque from Spain, and at the moment, seeking revenge on a Barbary pirate responsible for the death of his mentor. Long ago in the Revolution he lost his mother and brothers, or so he thinks.

Raeven Russell (named for her black hair) is the daughter of a British admiral, who she has sailed with since she was four. When her fiancé is killed in an encounter with Cutlass, Raeven vows to take the life of the man she believes to be a pirate. She finds Cutlass in a tavern in the seaport town of Brest in the far northwest of France where, dressed as a lad, she challenges him to a duel. Cutlass easily defeats her, it being apparent she has more bravado than skill with a sword (though she can throw a mean knife).

Raeven is ambivalent about killing Cutlass because what she really wants is to go to bed with him. (As one reviewer put it, “avenging her fiancé, but hot for her enemy”). Since she is not a virgin, her virtue is not an issue apparently, and she and Cutlass jump into bed with few preliminaries and little emotion--but lots of lust. At times she comes across as selfish and immature for 19, especially since she’s been raised around sailors who work hard for a living. (In those days, 19 was old for a woman.) One had to wonder how she could live on a British war ship as a child, especially when her country was at war. In any event, her father has little control over her and she seems to come and go as she pleases.

The story has lots of actions: fist fights, knife fights, sword fights, battles at sea and pirates and privateers in abundance as Raeven chases after Cutlass and Cutlass chases after another privateer. In the process, everyone gets wounded and some killed. And, of course, Sebastian realizes Raeven is the woman for him, and she solves the mystery of his lost family. It’s lighter pirate fare than the classics you might be thinking of but nevertheless entertaining.

The Sons of Revolution Series:

The Making of a Duchess (2010)
The Making of a Gentleman (2010)
The Rogue Prate’s Bride (2012)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Review: Brenda Hiatt’s SHIP of DREAMS – Adventure Aboard a Sidewheel Steamer in 19th Century America—Simply Superb!

This was my first book by Hiatt and I was impressed with how well she portrayed an historic event through the eyes of a man and woman falling in love. I love historical romances that integrate real history and real historical figures (and do not just use historical settings as background “wallpaper”). This one does it very well.

SHIP of DREAMS is a romance, yes, but a romance wrapped around the true story of the sinking of the luxury sidewheel steamer SS Central America (aka the "Ship of Gold" for all the gold it carried) that went down in a hurricane off the Carolina coast in 1857.

Della Gilliland, seller of herbal tonics and the daughter of a gold miner, and Kenton Bradford of the wealthy “New York Bradfords” meet in San Francisco onboard a steamship as Della is fleeing a false accusation of murder (for one of her tonics). Seeking to hide among the first class passengers, Della introduces herself as Kent’s wife. Startled, he plays along with the ruse and finds himself falling in love with the beautiful Irish girl, no matter he is engaged to another woman, a woman he does not love.

Hiatt is a superb storyteller and I soon found myself absorbed—both in the romance and life aboard the steamship. Della is a strong, unpretentious, unselfish heroine and Kent is a noble man whose love for the adventurous Della changes him into a better man. The emotion between Della and Kent is believable, the chemistry real and the love scenes appropriate. The steamship travel from San Francisco to the East Coast via Panama and the hurricane that hit the ship are an integral part of the story and obviously reflect considerable research. All in all, I think Hiatt did an incredible job of bringing both the Victorian period in America and this incident in history to life. I highly recommend it.

The Central America sank in a hurricane in September 1857 (wreck pictured above), along with more than 550 passengers and crew and 30,000 pounds of gold, contributing to the Panic of 1857.