I have had really good luck with Shadow Mountain Press’s romances. They are proper and sweet and I have enjoyed almost every single one that I have read. So whenever I see a new one up for review, I usually grab at it because they are always well written and enjoyable. This one sounded really interesting, as a girl hiding in plain sight on a ship disguised as a boy who ends up falling in love with one of the officers.
This particular publisher is kind of off the beaten path, it’s obviously not a huge powerhouse of romance novels like Harlequin or Thomas Nelson which is known for its sweet or proper romances, but the romances I have read from Shadow Mountain have always been believable and full of chemistry. I am happy to report that this book lived up to those expectations I had of this publishing house.
While I did love this romance there were times when I was shocked that some of the characters didn’t leap to other conclusions about George and Dominic. There was much of the story where I was thinking to myself……so if everyone thinks George is a boy, why aren’t they thinking that Dominic and George aren’t lovers. It was difficult to imagine that no one thought that from the get go, but in the end this was a mild thing for me. If you like historical romances that are more proper in nature you need to check out some of their titles!
A Regency romance on the high seas. Two hearts yearning to find a safe harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.
As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”
Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. While trying to adjust to a new crew, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.
Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband are quickly slipping away.
Let me start out by saying that the setting was wonderful. I thought that having the romance set on the high seas during the Napoleonic Wars was such a great choice. I loved the setting and all the exoticness and adventure of the story. All of the maritime details truly made this story stand out to me. I am not really a lover of sailing but I fully believe in the romance of the sea and in this book the author captured the magic of that feeling. I loved how authentic the story felt too. Not just the romance, but the time period setting. The author clearly did some research for this one.
The author knows a lot about sailing or she researched the shit out of it. I loved that she incorporated all the different terms of the era. It really brought the ship, characters, and sea to life. On more than one occasion I went down a rabbit hole of research because I had no idea what a frigate ship looked like or what the rank Master and Commander meant compared to a Captain. The next thing I knew I was researching all the maritime things. But as much research as the author put into this one, there were times that I think some things needed to be cleared up. I would have liked to have had more of a description of what a frigate was compared to a schooner. Does one have a single mast or maybe one has three? I wasn’t sure so I would stop reading to Google what those things were so I could have a better, more clear picture in my head.
I would have liked to have seen her give a little more context to the descriptions as well as some of the historical details. Another example was when the crew came upon an American vessel and they had to board to inspect the ship…..I didn’t really understand why that happened historically. Same when the crew wanted to come home with prizes, what exactly did that mean? Why were ships attacking merchant vessels? While there was a substantial amount of historical research in this one, there were times that it brought about more questions than answers for me.
The chemistry between George and Dominic was believable and I loved how they developed a friendship first and as the story went on it became something more. As I mentioned before there were times when I was like……why is no one questioning if they are gay lovers? But ultimately I felt satisfied with their romance and friendship and how things progressed in-spite of the questions I had. Dominic was heroic, brave, and kind. It was hard not to love him and I loved watching George come into her own and break free of some of her self doubt all thanks to Dominic.
This was a wonderful romance that was a quick and easy read with lots of rich historical details. I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the historical details throughout. If you prefer sweet romances this is a great title and a wonderful story to check out.
Book Info and Rating
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by Shadow Mountain
ISBN162972792X (ISBN13: 9781629727929)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Shadow Mountain in partnership with Austen Prose in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical fiction, romance, Regency lit
“Hawks crafts a spellbinding tale featuring rich characters and raw emotions set against the atmospheric backdrop of sea life in all its danger and beauty. Georgana is a tough protagonist holding her own in a world dominated by men, while Peyton’s charm and sensitivity marks him as a true gentleman. A hidden identity, flirtation, and treachery make for a rousing tale to captivate lovers of historical romances.”— Publishers Weekly
“This tale felt sweepingly cinematic at times and was both action-packed and heart-wrenching with an immersive narrative.”— Katie Jackson, RegencyProofreading.com
Arlem Hawks wove a magnificent tale of adventure and deception and delivered a happy ever after that was as unconventional as the rest of the story. With so many stories of romance out there, it is refreshing when one comes along that is very different than the stories that I am used to. A little adventure always livens things up fabulously.”— Emily Flynn, Reading with Emily
“Fans of sweet love stories as well as readers who fondly remember those marvelous old traditional Signet Regencies will quickly succumb to the siren song of Hawk’s expertly crafted novel, which delivers the perfect blend of Jane Austen-smart romance and Patrick O’Brian flavored seafaring adventure. Teen romance readers will cheer on the plucky heroine as she finds the courage to forge her own path in life and love.”— Booklist, starred review
About the Author
Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn’t writing, Arlem is baking her characters’ favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.
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