The Sea Nymph
by Ruth Langan, historical (2001)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29145-0

I really enjoyed the first book in Ruth Langan's women-privateer trilogy (The Sea Witch) that I am looking forward to The Sea Nymph. But halfway through I find myself wishing this story would deviate from its determined course of being as familiar as possible. In fact, wouldn't it be nice if I'm reading The Sea Nympho instead? Now that's something.

Anything but this double combo of pirate-highwayman thingie. TSN do have possibilities. But this time around the writing style just can't override my increasing sense of boredom as the page turns.

Let's see. This time around, Bethany Lambert, the middle daughter, is fresh from a sea battle when her ship Undaunted takes a cannonball and has to be repaired. She goes to the Earl of Asmeeth's place to buy some timber, but the Earl's sales come with a condition: that she stay and play house with him (do I hear the theme of The Sound Of Music playing now?). I half expect a mute, shy child to come running out of the house, but not this time, thank goodness. What I get is just a hero who has been hurt before and now lives a reclusive life amidst gossips and rumors about his infamy.

The Earl, Kane, also plays highwayman, and the reason he asks Bethany to stay with him is because previously, he has kissed Bethany after stopping her carriage in his nightly jaunts. The kiss is so overpowering, it seems, that he nor she could forget it.

Predictable dilemmas ensue. Bethany is confused - how can she be attracted to this Earl yet dreaming about the highwayman's kiss? A villainous relative who wants to usurp Kane's title provide the obligatory action thread to keep things moving.

But really, without any interesting sea battle, TSN just cannot hide its by-the-book approach to romance. Villainous relative, hero who is afraid to love, the spunky tomboy virgin heroine, the highwayman kiss in the moonlight... how dull.

Rating: 70

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