Marsha Canham, $4.99, ISBN 978-1928075-05-9
Historical Romance, 2017
As the final entry in Marsha Canham’s The Pirate Wolf series, The Far Horizon allows Jonas Dante, the remaining unwed member of the Dante swashbuckler clan, to get his turn under the spotlight. He cuts a dashing figure in London despite claiming to never bother with keeping up with appearances, and everyone wants him, et cetera. He bumps into Lady Bellana Wrexworth-Harper during one of these ballrooms he frequents, and he’d love to do some bump and grind with the lady in question. She is not what she appears to be, however – Bella has to resort to thievery as her family is a hot mess of amoral sociopaths, and her late husband didn’t leave even a roof over her head. She plays up the appearance of being a genteel widow to do her thing, and of course Jonas catches her in the act. One thing leads to another, and he soon finds her stowed away on his ship as he returns to his family home. Will her enemies catch up with her, and will there be a happy ending between her and Jonas?
Well, this one certainly offers ample seafaring action, but the romance feels curiously muted. I’m told that there is an attraction, and there is certainly bump and grind between Jonas and Bella, but the bulk of the story is focused more on external conflicts. As a result, the romance feels like a quick hop from A to Z on an accelerated pace, with quite a number of alphabets skipped in between. Our hero and heroine come off as watered down versions of the author’s couples in previous books in the series, and I wish there is more chemistry and passion between these two.
Still, things won’t be so bad if the external conflicts lead to some exciting action scenes. Unfortunately, as this is the tail end book of the series, the Dante folks have become so powerful that there is hardly any suspense whatsoever that Jonas and his family will trounce all enemies without much effort. Indeed, secondary characters here actually praise Jonas for his impressive feats, with the author making it known very clearly that there is nowhere for the Dante family to go next other than godhood. They are just too awesome, and the villains are so outmatched, the whole “Dantes versus the bad guys” thing is almost embarrassing to follow.
There are also some technical issues that make this one a rather tough read. The story kicks off with what is basically a huge infodump on how all previous Dante hunks and babes are now happily in love still with their partners, and we can all be certain that constant, vigorous sex is part of their daily repertoire. New readers may find the first handful of pages a chore to read as a result, as there is no reason why they should care about these awesomely sexy and hot characters that they have never encountered before. As for me, it’s been some time, so I find myself wondering quite often, “What… who’s that again?” during these pages. This story also has abrupt point of view jumps and head hopping, so if you’re not too keen on all these, take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
Also, Marsha Canham’s writing style is on the old school side – colorful, grandiose, and sometimes even purple – so readers who prefer a more contemporary style may also want to take a deep breath. I don’t have an issue with this, as I know what I am getting into when I read the author’s titles. In fact, I actually like her brand of old school, especially when it comes with hot sizzling passion between action heroes and heroines on top of action, intrigue, and suspense. Alas, The Far Horizon delivers mostly the action and intrigue, with not enough passion and suspense for my liking. It’s a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise solid series.