Bleh. I just did not like this book very much. I wanted something historical and heartfelt and I have loved everything else I have read by Carla Kelly, so I thought this would be a safe choice. It just wasn’t very good.
There is a lot of plot packed in to one little book. James Trevenan was a sailor who survived a shipwreck and lived alone on a deserted island for five years (somewhere in the early 1800s – George III is still King, but there’s no specific date given). He is back in England and is set to receive a medal for a scientific work about crabs he wrote while marooned. He is foisted upon young widow Susannah Park’s family while in London. Susannah is the daughter of a Viscount who ran off with her father’s clerk, who promptly died in India. Susannah returned and his lived in social seclusion with her parents, her bitter sister, and her young son. They have an immediate connection and enjoy spending time together. Susannah’s godfather has a scheme to get James to marry Susannah, but they agree that they could not possibly fall in love in the two weeks that James is in town, so they decide to just enjoy their friendship instead. I think we can all see where that will end up.
I liked both the hero and heroine and their interactions, but there was just something missing here. I don’t know what I was looking for, but this wasn’t it. I can’t blame James for his demons and all the craziness that followed with him. His experiences were traumatic, so that response is reasonable. But, it was too much of a melodramatic turn for me with the cannibal ghost following him around. Just – too much. And the insane ex-mistress is never a trope I enjoy. (Serious question to romance authors: why is this even a thing? Can we move on from the anti-feminist crazy ex-girlfriend thing please?). Susannah was nice. She had her own comfortable life that she made the best of, and I liked her for it. She just wasn’t very compelling.
I have really loved the other Carla Kelly books I have read, so I’m not giving up on her after this disappointing one. I read her Channel Fleet trilogy last year and adored it. I never reviewed it because I powered through and read all three in a week and couldn’t keep them straight, but they were all great – I highly recommend those if you’re looking for a good place to start with Kelly.