My list of shipboard romances is relatively small. There is the mediocre Moriah’s Mutiny from Elizabeth Bevarly. The much better Whirlwind from Cathy Hake and the lovely Imagine from Jill Barnett. Christina Skye’s Going Overboard is campy but fun. Then there is Rachel Gibson’s Lola Carlyle Reveals All and Burnfrom Linda Howard. I love the idea of shipboard romance but given the slim pickings in this setting, I think I may be in a pretty small group of readers.
That might be because I missed the pirate craze of the 80’s (and can’t say I am shedding any tears over it). I read the The Windflower by Laura London, which is considered by many to be among the best pirate books and while I liked it, it did not convince me to search out other novels starring men of the high seas.
Recently though, my hopes have been raised. I’ve seen a spate of books taking place on THE ship. April 10, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sailing of the Titanic . As we all know, this journey ended in a disaster which resulted in the death of 1,517 people. But while we remember Titanic for the deaths it caused, is also immortalized by the glory it represented, even if that glory was ever so brief. We make much of the celebrated staircase, the luxury of its dining room, the opulence of the chandeliers. Even in pictures, it is enormous, seeming to dwarf other, lesser known luxury liners. And what could compare to its passenger list, a virtual who’s who of the rich and famous? It was the ultimate symbol of its era. Opulent, extravagant, outrageous in both cost and luxury, it was a tribute to all that was decadent yet refined.
For romance fans, Titantic represents one of the most popular film love stories of all time. Amidst the tragedy and splendor, the film Titanic highlighted the love story of Jim and Rose, a couple who represented for many the ultimate forbidden love. She is a girl from first class on the brink of being married to an extremely eligible man. He is the boy from third class who ignites her very soul and sets her free to be herself for the first time in her life. Ever since seeing that epic film I have tried to find a book that recaptures the glory and tragedy of love aboard this fated ship. Alas, I am still looking.
My first effort was two years ago with the novel Cold April. Telling the love story of Elizabeth, a nanny who falls for her first class employer, I found the tale conveyed the beauty of the ship well but failed to deliver the romance I desired.
I followed it up with Claudia Gray’s Fateful.Young Tess is maid to a wealthy family travelling aboard the Titanic. While there she not only deals with increasing secrecy among her employers but the oddities of other first class guests who grow more dangerous and demanding by the moment. Only young Alec seems like a man she can trust but he too seems to hold some lethal secrets. While more a YA paranormal than a romance I enjoyed this novel far more than Cold April. It did a good job of capturing what life aboard the ship must have been like for those caught between the classes.
This year several new romances have emerged that take place on the Ship of Dreams. January saw the release of Promise Me This by Cathy Gohke, the story of a young Michael who stows aboard the Titanic to join his friend Owen on his trip to America. When Titanic sinks, the dying Owen makes Michael promise to care for the relatives he leaves behind in America and the sister whom he left behind in England. Annie has a hard time accepting that Michael lived while Owen perished but as the two exchange letters a friendship develops. When WWI breaks out and Annie goes silent, Michael crosses the ocean once more in an effort to rescue the woman who has come to mean everything to him. This is a beautifully written story, sweet and slow as molasses. By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer is a retelling of the prodigal son parable. Do-gooder Amelia Gladstone gives the ticket meant for her no-show cousin to a homeless man who was trying to stow aboard Titanic. Quentin Walpole had lost everything to careless business management and high living and now just wants to return home to America. When the lovely Amelia makes that possible he battles his own desire to grow closer to her with the certain knowledge that everything he loves he destroys. Can their love survive the danger that lies ahead? This novel captured the lives of the little heard of second class passengers, but failed to deliver a heartfelt romance.
In honor of the anniversary, I am still going to keep looking for the elusive perfect Titanic romance. I have Echoes of Titanic sitting on my TBR pile right now, and maybe that will be the one. How about you, do you like romances set aboard this fated ship? Do you like novels set on ships at all? Know of any good shipboard romances? What about great romantic films set on the high seas?
– Maggie Boyd