Darlene Marshall

Books: Romance | Historical

Sea Change (2011), Castaway Dreams (2012/2016)

Sea Change (2011)

One of the more unusual for me pleasures in my RSS feed is Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It's unusual because as a rule I do not enjoy romance. I just don't. But when I browsed the review for Sea Change I decided that the premise was interesting enough I wanted to read it.

Charley was raised by her physician father, and as a single father he quickly found it easier to dress Charley in boy's clothes and take her along on his calls. Charley was fascinated with his work, and quickly became his assistant and apprentice, however, after her father's death, people were less willing to put up with the oddity of a girl dressing in men's clothing and practicing medicine, so she decides to travel to Jamaica where her godfather (also a physician) lives in the hopes that at best he'll allow her to continue her apprenticeship, but at worst he'll take her into his home as she no longer has anywhere to go.

To get to Jamaica she continues her masquerade as a young man, and barters are trip from England to Jamaica by acting as physician on a ship making to voyage.

You can probably see right away what caught my attention. The fact is that women dressing as men did happen, when it was the only way to allow them to travel freely/practice their desired profession.

So. What did I think of the book.

First, I like Charley a lot. She liked being a doctor and helping people, and her desire to help people was in large part what led to her charade.

Second, I liked the setting, during the war of 1812 between the fledgling US and England.

Third, the hero was–okay. I was amused by many of his reactions to Charley when he thought she was a young man, but he wasn't anyone I'd be attracted to. Personal tastes.

As far as the story, I loved Charley and her experiences on the Fancy. I loved them men who served on the privateer. As far as the romantic bits? I mostly sped read through them. They weren't bad, it was just that I found them to be interruptions in the bits I liked–life on the ship, medical practice in the early 1800s, etc.

Again, personal tastes.

But despite that, I did enjoy the book, and I do recommend it–as long as you know you're getting a kissing book. :)

Published by Amber Quill Press

Rating: 7/10

Castaway Dreams (2012/2016) 

Set in the Atlantic ocean and England in 1817.

Alexander Murray is returning home after serving for years as a naval surgeon.

The war brought advances in surgery and medical techniques, some he'd experienced firsthand, but it was time to catch up on those other innovations uncovered by his brother surgeons.

Unfortunately, this trip has Daphne Farnham, an empty-headed heiress who ends up Alexander's charge.

"With her reputation in tatters and Tyndale dead, it's a grand opportunity for me."

"Her father's a nabob," Captain Franklin said repressively, reaching for the plum jam. "He'll be looking to buy a title for her, boy, not wanting to marry her off to a sailor. There will be some lord with pockets to let or gambling debts who will take her, you mark my words. Farnham's money can cover all of her sins, especially with her looks!"

A shipwreck forces the doctor and Miss Farnham to work together, at which point Alexander discovers that Daphne isn't quite as useless as he first thought.

"Your task is to hold the valise."

"You are putting live crabs in my valise?"

"How hungry are you, Miss Farnham?"

"That is a good point, Dr. Murray," she acknowledged.

My problem with this story is that I just couldn't care about Daphne. She wasn't a bad person, and after the first couple of chapters she wasn't annoying anymore, but I didn't get what Alexander saw in her (besides her beauty and their survival and reliance) and I just had a difficult time believing their relationship would last.

I also kinda could have done without the surprise the doctor received when he returned to England. It felt entirely too pat.

To be clear, this wasn't a bad book, it just didn't do much for me.

Publisher: Eve D. Ackerman 

Rating: 6/10