Danelle Harmon, $3.99
Historical Romance, 2013
Lord of the Sea is part of a series that Danelle Harmon wrote a while back for Avon – which she has now reissued for public consumption through the usual independent channels – but it can stand alone pretty well despite what seems like the entire clan showing up here. I haven’t read the other books in the series, and I can still go along with things just fine, so I’m sure other folks unfamiliar with the series would be fine too.
Rhiannon Evans and her friend and companion Alannah are at sea. Alannah, a widow, wants to travel to Barbados to be with her family and to enjoy a change of scenery from England. Rhiannon has always wanted an adventure, so she just has to tag along. Well, our heroine gets her wish when their ship are first attacked by pirates, and then the pirates are attacked in turn by Captain Connor Merrick, an American privateer who is doing his part for his country and having lots of fun in the process. As it turns out, Connor is related to Alannah (his sister is married to her brother), so he decides to escort the ladies on his ship all the way to their destination. Along the way, Rhiannon doesn’t try so hard to hide the fact that she’s really into Connor, especially when he’s shirtless and flexing those muscles just like that. Connor, an older and more worldly man, never intends to take their relationship beyond flirtation, but ah, some things are irresistible, even to a seasoned sea rogue.
Before I go on, let me point out that the guy on the cover art is actually a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts. According to the copyright notes, the hair and the face belong to two different men, put together by the magic of picture editing technology. Strangely enough, while the face and the hair look pretty well glued together – so to speak – the head and the body are the ones that look more like they belong to two different men. The end result is quite cute, although it has as much sex appeal as a radish.
Oh yes, the story. The characters are pretty adorable in an old-school way. Unlike many of the simpering neurotic heroines today, Rhiannon is spirited and feisty, although the author nicely avoids letting her go too far off the stupid end. Connor is a rogue rather than a rake – he likes to flirt, charm, and laugh at the face of danger, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to mess with Rhiannon downstairs because he’s not that kind of blackguard. Too bad his little head has other thoughts. These two have a thing that is sexy, fun, and humorous at times. I also like that Rhiannon recognizes that she may just be infatuated with Connor, although like any girl her age (she’s eighteen), she’s confident that she’s smart enough to know it’s true love she is feeling for that man, snort.
Unfortunately, the lack of conflict soon bogs down this book. This is a full-length novel, but there is little tension or suspense, so once the two characters are forced to get married (they are found in a compromising situation by his brother-in-law who has taken on the role of Rhiannon’s guardian during her stay in Barbados), the story dies. It dies because it starts to resemble a day-by-day account of folks who go about doing things without a clear indication that there is going to a grand denouement of any sorts. No villain, no mystery, nothing. The internal conflict hints at various kinds of drama – he has a “secret”, ooh – but things never become really compelling.
Let’s put it this way: Connor is an American privateer while his sister is married to a British military officer, so by right they are on opposite sides of the fence. But because Connor is family, he is never in any danger of getting arrested, so there is no compelling loyalty drama there. Connor claims that he is not man enough for Rhiannon due to his secret, but he doesn’t seem to get too worked up over that matter beyond whining about it now and then. Our hero and heroine are surrounded by powerful people who can protect them from most circumstances, so again, no conflict there. The few major developments have me rolling up my eyes. For example, his family help Rhiannon stow away in his ship when he’s off to do his privateer thing after they are married. Are these supposedly experienced seafaring people (one of them is a former “Pirate Queen”) insane, sending an inexperienced 18-year old girl to the hero while he’s going to get into violet battles with pirates and what not? Of course, Rhiannon would then go, hey, Connor is being dishonest in his daily dealings, and I can only press my forehead against the table. She wanted to sleep with a privateer – does she think men like him invite pirates to come on board their ship for tea?
Okay, let me rephrase things a bit: not many interesting things happen here, and one of the biggest things that happen is the story becoming dumb-dumb.
The author has an interesting and fun lively couple, but she then puts them in a story that doesn’t have much reason to go for as long as it did. Lord of the Sea sails off from the port with great fanfare, making me feel that there would be great things to come, but it soon drifts aimlessly at sea for an interminable length of time. This is one story that should have been much shorter for its own good.