My original plan for this post was to write a follow-up to last month's Scottish-set romance recommendations.
But that will have to wait for another day. Because, once again, my
family’s snow/sleet/cold/gloom tolerance has maxed out after a
particularly nasty Marchuary, and we are dying for some sun and surf. I
have a sneaking suspicion there are droves of others out there in the
same boat (or sleigh).
My suggestion? Flee the hinterlands for southern climes! And if you
can’t make it to the real thing, plant yourself in an armchair, switch
out your reading lamp’s florescent bulb for a full spectrum one, pour
yourself a tall frosty drink, pop a paper umbrella into it, and set sail
between the pages of a book. It’s time for a beach party!
And what’s a beach without a pirate? I’ve got a couple of yummy sea wolves for your consideration.
First up is Marsha Canham’s Across a Moonlit Sea,
a classic rip-roaring, Elizabethan swashbuckler, pitting French
nobleman and privateer Simon Dante against cartographer Isabeau Spence.
Both protagonists are overcoming past betrayals, and the sexual tension
is hotter than a mutineer’s broadside. But the real pleasure here is
Canham’s first-class historical detail. You can practically feel every
swell in the ocean (naughtier ones amongst you, feel free to imagine me
wiggling my eyebrows suggestively). This isn’t costume drama, it’s high
seas drama at its best.
I love a good girl-poses-as-boy story. Add in a pirate captain and a
slow simmering attraction, and I’m hooked. (Resign yourself to the
marine allusions.) Darlene Marshall does both in her wonderful Sea Change.
In 1817, David Fletcher plucks a doctor from a British merchant ship to
tend his wounded brother, unaware his young sawbones is female. For
years, Charley Alcott has worked alongside her physician father, but
when he dies, she masquerades as an apprentice physician in order to
secure passage to her godfather’s Caribbean home. Uneasy friendship
grows into even more uneasy attraction and finally, with the revelation
of Charley’s gender, into a passionate love affair. But that’s just
icing on the cake in this funny, yet poignant tale of a woman struggling
to find her way in a man’s world (and on his ship).
pirates aren’t your cuppa, how about a world-weary photojournalist who
just happens to one of the most romantic, sexy men I’ve read this year?
The always excellent Christie Ridgeway outdoes herself in Love Shack.
With her trademark humor ratcheted down just a hair, this lovely story
is the quintessential romance having heart, humor, pathos, and red-hot
love scenes. In this story of heartbreak and healing, what Gage Lowell
envisions as sweet, summer fling with old friend (and unacknowledged
soulmate) Skye Alexander quickly escalates into something neither are
prepared to admit, yet cannot deny. Wowza. Simply terrific!
And finally, to my mind you, simply can’t call it a vacation unless
you read a gothic romance--and if it’s on a lush tropical paradise
during the nineteenth century where a young orphan girl faces hidden
danger, all the better. If this is your idea of gothic heaven, prepare
to sigh over Jill Tattersall’s fabulous Damnation Reef.
Marina Derwint is shipwrecked and rescued, only to find herself under
the unwilling protection of the enigmatic and brooding master (aren’t
all the best masters enigmatic?) of Tamarind, an estate in Antilla.
Murder, sunken treasure, and suicide are just a few of the obstacles the
star crossed lovers must overcome. An old-fashioned gothic with a
tropical flavor. I can practically taste the rum. --Connie Brockway