This book was a delight: 5 stars hardly seem enough to shower on it. This is another of Carla Kelly's books that I stayed up most of the night to finish; it was simply too engaging to set aside. This is a wonderful adventure story as well as a great romance.
This tale harkens back to the early 1800's when Great Britain and France were slugging it out on land and sea. Hannah Whittier is on an American ship, sailing to Charleston, South Carolina. However, that ship becomes a pawn of the two warring factions and it is blown out of the water. Hannah is the only one to survive.
Snagged from the ocean, Hannah recuperates on the ship of an honorable British naval captain, Sir Daniel Spark. Because the voyage is so long, Hannah looks for ways to be useful while onboard. She thinks the captain is a 'perfect beast.' It is fairly obvious that Daniel is smitten immediately with the little 'spitfire.' Hannah is honest, fairly fearless, very outspoken and very much a Quaker.
I felt I was there during the fight between Capt. Spark's and the French frigates crews. I didn't realize what perilous lives seafaring men lived until I read this book. There was a shocking loss of life during the fight; then Daniel's crew sank the French ship.
Hannah and Daniel seem to be poles apart when the story begins; however it soon becomes obvious that both of them are deeply committed to family obligations, duty and honor, honesty and integrity between friends. As with most (or all) of Carla Kelly's books, these are everyday people reacting to extraordinary events and showing their mettle.
The secondary characters are very well-drawn often with few words; we see them through their actions. The two main characters grow and develop before our eyes. One way we see this is by Hannah's listing of a prospective husband's necessary attributes at the beginning of the book. It doesn't take her long to realign her priorities; she recognizes that being blond with blue eyes is irrelative, for example.
We find out that Daniel has also made a list of the things he most admires about Hannah. Daniel was surprised to hear that Hannah was only 17; by that time he was already half in love with her. It is easy to see why he thought that; Hannah showed good common sense throughout the story and was quick to step forward to complain when she saw (or thought she saw) injustice. She also knew that she owed something to the ship's crew (and captain) and set about doing (often thankless) jobs on the ship.
These were amazingly interesting characters; the situations they faced seemed realistic. This story was much more appealing than hearing about the Ton or seeing endless galas.
Not my favorite Kelly book but, as always, a good read!