Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-223112-3
Historical Romance, 2014
Destiny’s Captive has a standalone plot, but do take note that the story soon has the characters from the previous two books in Beverly Jenkins’s Destiny series showing up to hog as much limelight as our hero and heroine. Perhaps it is better to read the other two books (Destiny’s Embrace and Destiny’s Surrender) first.
Noah Yates had been forcibly abducted and conscripted into the crew of a very evil Captain when he was 18. The experience changed him from an artistically-inclined sensitive young man into a man of action, and today, he is the captain of his own ship, making a good living from transporting goods from all over the world while posing like the most dashing swashbuckler in the land. It’s all good… until Cuban revolutionist Pilar Banderas steals his ship right after tying him up to a bed. She needs the ship for a good cause, but he isn’t amused. He’ll catch her, he’ll… he’ll… marry her?
The first half or so of this story is pretty intriguing. There is a cat-and-mouse chase, the hero and the heroine being all sensible, capable, and likable even when the author tries to get Noah to behave more like an alpha male, and some good sexual tension. The author seems to be on a roll here. The narrative is far less stilted and heavy-handed in the exposition compared to that in her last few books, and for a while, things are looking cheery and sunny here.
And then, the author shifts the setting to one where the previous characters show up to congregate around our hero and heroine. Readers unfamiliar with the previous books will have to be very patient during these parts if they don’t take an instant liking to these characters, while for me, I’m disappointed because the heroine’s affiliation with the revolutionists in Cuba takes a backseat to more familiar scenes of domesticity. Whether this is intentional or not on the author’s part, Pilar ends up being one of the many heroines whose principles and beliefs seem to be mere distractions to pass the time until they find what really matters: a man. The conflict in this part revolves around the hero being stupid and a secondary character (female, of course) trying very hard to drag our heroine down, and I find myself wishing that these two have gone to Cuba and shoot some people instead. That would have been more interesting than the current drama involving played-out villains and sequel baits.
Also, the main characters go through some situations that would make most people at least spend a few days trying to get over the shock and grief, but these people behave like they have been stung by a few mosquitoes instead. While I do like how Pilar can take care of herself with her chin held high and how Noah still comes off as a pretty decent (if a little thick in the head) fellow even when he’s trying so hard to be a fool, this aspect of their character makes them seem less realistic than they would otherwise be.
But really, my biggest disappointment with Destiny’s Captive is how, despite this being the best-written book from the author in a while, the plot goes from something interesting into something mundane and even boring. It’s hallelujah at first, then what-the-hell-yeah by the time I reach the last dozen pages. Such a disappointment, and it’s not even Christmas yet.