Love On The High Seas
by Yasmin Sullivan, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86331-0

Angelina Lewis is a caricature of an "intellectual". She is a professor who has the body proportioned in a way that makes men drool, but she is somehow oblivious to the fact that she is hot. In fact, she gets hysterical and paranoid when you even suggest a little that guys may appreciate a booty call from her now and then. Determined to be a martyr to her own neurotic insecurities, she nonetheless gets dragged by her sister Safire to take Safire's place in a singles cruise.

As "Safire", she meets our hot hero, Dr Jeremy Bell, and oh no, her uterus is on fire for the first time in her life and she starts acting like she will die if she has sex with him, and she will also die if she doesn't. Thus begins a truly painful "courtship" which is basically a prolonged and exhaustive effort to get through Angelina's weird self-esteem issues and make her understand that it is okay if she enjoys coming in physical contact with a pee-pee now and then.

Love On The High Seas seems like a fast-paced exciting story if I am to judge by the title, but as it turns out, this is an excruciating read as it's basically everyone trying to get the heroine to understand that she is not as loathsome and worthless as she insists she is while she wrings her hands and acts like an imbecile.

The author has a very dry and boring narrative style, which only adds to the pain of following the antics of these main characters. There is too much telling, when I would appreciate some insight into why these characters, especially the heroine, end up being as stupid as they are. These idiots overreact to everything, to the point that even a minor disagreement would have them hurling wild accusations and breaking into hysterical sobs. The only good thing here is that, being a doctor, Jeremy would have easier access to sedatives and antidepressants when the two of them inevitably fall off the edge one of these days.

The author also has a bizarre tendency to waste pages after pages describing to the smallest detail every furniture and every item of clothing in a particular scene. The end result of all this is that the furniture end up coming off as the sanest things in the scenery, and I start to wonder whether I should have just read the IKEA Christmas catalog instead.

Having said that, the author also has a rather... interesting preoccupation with eyes. In the first 14 pages alone, I have "calm, elliptical eyes", "simmering brown eyes", "sensual ebony ovals", and "warm brown eyes", the last one repeated three times. The last three are also used to describe the hero's eyes alone, and really, I have no idea why the hero's eyes need to be described each time he's in the scene. Random flicking of pages would yield "big brown eyes", "cold stare", "watchful eye"... the pages have eyes, people, they have eyes!

The biggest problem of this story is the author's one-dimensional use of self-esteem issues as a substitute for the heroine's personality, and has her keep doing all kinds of stupid things that sabotage her life, leading to non-stop predictable melodrama of the stupid kind. The hero is an idiot in many ways too, but at least he is reasonable when he needs to be, while the heroine just keeps running around like a twit and the author uses the heroine's martyr tendencies as justification for such stupidity. This is more of a contrived and lazy rescue fantasy than anything else, and the author's stilted yet purple writing style only makes things worse. "Sensual ebony ovals" - are you kidding me?

Rating: 41

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