Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Review: Cordia Byers’ CALLISTA – Suspenseful Bodice Ripper set in 19th Century Georgia

Set in the mid 1800s aboard a ship and then in Georgia, this tells the story of Callista Drummond and the English aristocrat, now sea captain, Corbin Wolfram Gainsbough (the latter name only showing up briefly).

When her aunt betroths her to the old and cruel Lord Condor to save their fortunes, being the half Scot, half gypsy that she is, Callista Drummond decides to find her way back home in Scotland and to her father’s Keep, Tantallon. Disguising herself as a lad, she gets lucky and is befriended by the first mate of the ship Peregrine captained by the stern Corbin Wolfram. She hires on as a cabin boy, but forgot to ask where they were sailing. Instead of Scotland, the ship is headed to Savannah, Georgia.

You might as well know up front this is a bodice ripper and Corbin Wolfram is basically a bastard for most of the book, forcing a seduction (since she was an innocent, some would call it rape), then dumping her on his first mate, then beating her, then forcing her to be his whore “for six months.” (No mention is made of what happens should she become pregnant). So, right there I’m thinking, to redeem himself, this guy is going to have to grovel big time.

Of course, she could have left him at any time but she “gave him her word” and it takes her a while to figure out one should not make promises to such a man. When she finally does leave him, she heads to the Georgia gold fields led by a vision she had of her father digging in red earth in America.

Byers tells the tale well, as she always does, and kept me turning pages late into the night. So, for all the negative things I said about the hero, it is a page turner. Callista is, in most ways, a courageous and clever girl. You want her to succeed (and you want Corbin to drop into the sea, no matter he had a difficult childhood or his mother wasn’t perfect or a certain Lord Condor destroyed his family—yes, there is that coincidence). If you don’t like it when the hero sleeps with other women, you’ll like it even less when the heroine sleeps with another man. Just know this is a bit different.

The storms at sea are vividly portrayed and there are some wonderful secondary characters. All in all, if you like bodice rippers, this is a good one.

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