The Sea Wife
by Holly Cook, historical (2003)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5207-5

Sabina Grey almost drowned when she is rescued by our seafaring hero Miles Dampier. He is on his way from Australia to England, and unknown to Sabina, he is actually a man filled with demons. The besotted dingbat marries him, but upon reaching England, she realizes that he has married her with less than scrupulous designs in mind, and worse, he turns into a cruel and thoughtless jerk. Never mind, our heroine begins trying to make the hero see that he really must love her, he must! Our twosome hence begin working through a plethora of issues, including some Tortured Hero Wants Revenge bit.

The premise of this story is very interesting: Mile's sanity is sometimes worth questioning about, and there are times when he is more of a villain rather than hero. I won't really dwell on the plot, because the author is trying something interesting here, and I think it's best for readers who want to try this book to experience the story with minimal spoilage.

Unfortunately, the heroine is a dim-witted creature who does many questionable things in this book in the name of love, misguided concepts of independence, and obligation. When she's not being unable to finish her sentences, she's talking in a rather overwrought manner, her lines filled with exclamation marks to make her come off like a hysterical loon. This is one character who wants to be feisy but is anything but.

Also, after all the build-up of the hero's jerkish behavior, the author ruins everything by having Miles make a turnaround in character in an unbelievably abrupt manner. It is as if Ms Cook has taken a pin and punctures the balloon that is her story.

Still, The Sea Wife has interesting ideas, even if the execution leaves much to be desired. I can't help thinking that with a little polish and a little less reliance on formulaic character development, The Sea Wife would have been a worthy debut from Holly Cook. Still, for being interesting, it's still a pretty good job - well done indeed, Ms Cook.

Rating: 76

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