Thursday, February 12, 2009

Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly

Book Description:
Ever since her father tried to sell her as a mistress to the highest bidder, Eleanor Massie has chosen to live in poverty. Her world changes overnight when Captain Oliver Worthy shows up at her struggling inn. Despite herself, Nana is drawn to her handsome guest….

Oliver planned to stay in Plymouth only long enough to report back to Lord Ratliffe—about Nana. But he soon senses that Lord Ratliffe is up to something, and Oliver will do anything to keep this courageous, beautiful woman safe—even marry her!

This was the first time that I've read a Harlequin romance. I'd heard good things about this book, and happened to love the cover, but I found the book itself and story to be a bit on the light side. It was a sweet little story, but it didn't have much depth to it. The story itself was good, with an interesting plotline, but I kept wishing for more emotion and drama, something to keep my interest. Sometimes I felt like what I was reading was only skimming the real story beneath.

The plotline was appealing: handsome post captain in the British Navy circa 1807 meets sweet young illegitimate Nana Massie who is working in her grandmother's lodging house in Plymouth. He is ill and she helps nurse him back to health. It was a nice story and the author is big on realism, though I could have done without the need to mention his needing and "using" the urinal in bed! Kind of spoils the moment, if you know what I mean, not very sexy. Plus, I had trouble with her name, since it's the same name my son calls my mother! But, despite these things, her hero and heroine were regular sort of people in a real world at war, not glamorous, but their relationship had a sweet build up to it.

I tried to picture a Hornblower-esque dark and handsome man with gray at the temples, sweeping her off her feet and taking her on board with him. I thought the book would take that sort of plotline. No, alas, most of the book has them longing for one another and missing each other while he's away at sea, briefly returning for soul searching gazes and hand holding with some kissing. For the most part it was G rated until they married and then a rather tame (but sweet) wedding night is described. I almost felt the author should have just kept the book G rated, since the wedding night and a few more subsequent couplings seemed out of place with the innocent tone in most of the book. Almost as if, she added some sex scenes to appease her publishers and appeal to a larger audience.

One of the things I liked about this book was when the captain is ill and Nana is taking care of him. The image of this very well known and highly respected captain lying in bed in his nightshirt was appealing, and I liked the way he and Nana got to know one another this way. (Reminds me of Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas, another man sick in bed and being nursed romance that I loved, I guess I'm a sucker for this storyline.) I also liked the way Oliver (the hero) relished returning to Nana, sometimes just to kiss her and see her for a minute before he had to leave again. Very romantic. The way he imagined sitting by the fire with her as they grew old, talking about mundane things, this made him human - he wanted just a regular life with a wife to come home to.

I can't say I disliked this book, but it's not something I'll probably remember for long. I felt it could have been so much better if it had been a little meatier with more emotion and longer. It just didn't grab me. It was a bit of a yawn and didn't hold my interest. I put it down often. I think this book would appeal to early teens, but definitely not of the same calibre of other regencies I've read, or even close to a C.S. Forester or Patrick O'Brian in the sea faring moments.



Barbara said...

Good review. I'm a big LK fan and adored Lady Sophia's Lover. I suppose I'm a sucker for that sort of plot as well.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I simply adored Lady Sophia's Lover, my favorite LK that I've read to date. I'm still making my way through her backlist. This book was a very, very pale shade of the sort of things LK writes. I can't even really compare them, they're so different. I believe many like Carla Kelly for her realism and simple love stories with regular people, but I've realized that's not what I'm looking for when reading a romance at this point.

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