I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
Lady Viola Hextall is bored – of the sea, her chaperones, and the woeful lack of available dukes on the ocean voyage from London to New York. Scrambling for any diversion short of jumping overboard, Viola strikes up a conversation with the ship’s rough-hewn, blue-eyed surgeon – and discovers an immediate cure for what ails her…
To Nathaniel Shaw, Viola has the bearing of a lady and the spirit of an adventurer – an unlikely combination that he finds utterly irresistible. So he’s hoping to convince Viola to leave the stifling ballrooms of London high society behind because there is a big, wide world just waiting for them to explore – together.
I’ve kind of gone about this series all backwards, the first book I read in this series was You’re the Earl That I Want, which is the third book in the series. I enjoyed it and felt it worked well as a stand alone, so now I am working my way backwards I guess. I suppose I could have slipped this review in before publishing the other, but since that wasn’t the way I read them, it isn’t the way I’m going to present it. (Does that sound snarky? I swear I heard neener-neener-neener in my head as I wrote it.) Apparently my beleaguered brain finds posting reviews of a series out of the order I read them an even more abhorrent thing to do than actually reading a series out-of-order.
This I suppose could be considered a New Adult, but I would consider it significantly more successful than my last foray. While Viola is a bit of a twit at the start, she’s also sort of charming and funny. And in this case, I kind of think having read these out-of-order was a good thing. Since this is a short story, there wasn’t a ton of room to flesh out backgrounds and characterizations, so already knowing a lot more about the Hexall family, I think let me understand and appreciate Viola more. She is so clearly a young woman on the brink of adulthood, trying to figure herself out. I am sure I have read historicals with heroines as young before, but they always seemed more adult-like, or maybe just reading this directly after thinking about New Adult stories and themes just made me aware of her young age more.
But I especially enjoyed Nate, he was so earnest about being the best surgeon he could be, that I found him absolutely adorable. And he was so passionate about the perils of basing society on the assumed merits of the aristocracy, and I do so enjoy historicals where everyone isn’t an aristocrat.
As for the plotline, yes Viola was young, but Nate always treated her as an autonomous thinking adult woman. In fact he treated her like more of a sentient being than she seemed to think of herself. And much like the other Bowen book I read, this took a hefty dose of willful suspension of belief, especially pertaining to how quickly they bonded and started being intimate, but neither of them seemed like cardboard cutouts of characters, they felt very real.
All in all, I found this short story fairly delightful and would recommend it to anyone who might enjoy a fairly ridiculous historical with two very endearing, if not entirely believable, characters.