Across a Wild Sea
Watch out, Bertrice and Virginia: There’s a new girl in town!
With prose so purple I noticed a lavender tinge suffusing my hands as I held the book, Across a Wild Sea features a perfectly beautiful, perfectly sweet, perfectly spirited, perfectly nauseating heroine and a standard-issue (well, in the 1980s, anyway) “dark and tormented” hero involved in some pretty standard-issue (well, in the 1980s, anyway) tempestuous, w-a-a-a-y over-the-top doings, culminating in (what else?) your 1980s standard-issue HEA.
See, heroine Alannah was raised on an isolated island by a mysterious old woman she calls “grandmother” and there’s nobody to keep her company on this island except grandmother and a pack of wild horses who roam the land. Now, even though Alannah is blind, she still manages to ride bareback and stride about so confidently that she fools washed-up pirate (I kind of like describing him that way) Xanthier O’Bannon into thinking she can see.
Now, Xanthier is permanently pissed-off at some kind of familial thing – there’s some deal with his brother and the family lands and all that – and he’s also not happy about being shipwrecked alone and loosing all his valuable cargo. (Well, now who wouldn’t be annoyed at that?) Still, there’s this beautiful chick and her grandmother who take him in and tend his wounds.
Soon enough, Xanthier finds himself charmed by Alannah and Alannah finds herself intrigued by the first real chance she’s ever had to do the deed and pretty darn soon they’re doing it. And, of course, mean old Xanthier is starting to see the world in a different way through the wise and unworldly and “eyes” of the beautiful Alannah. So, then, gosh darn it, wouldn’t you just know it that his crew would finally figure out where he got, ah, washed-up? And then grandmother gets sick and, well, all heck just breaks loose and he ends up having to forcibly abduct Alannah from the island (for her own good, of course) and they both wind up getting caught up in all that family stuff that permanently pissed-off Xanthier before he got so, well, washed-up.
Frankly, I had trouble keeping a straight face through most of the book and, since there’s absolutely no intended humor to be found anywhere in the pages of this book, I don’t think that’s the reaction the author was going for. As for the prose itself, hey, let’s let the author speak for herself. Here’s how Ms. Lord introduces Xanthier:
“Thunder crashed overhead and the ocean roared with fury. Commodore Xanthier O’Bannon, cast-out heir to Scotland’s Kirkcaldy, shouted at the elements, daring them to fight. His tormented soul matched the anger of the storm, and he stood at the helm, like a devil at the gate of hell.”
I could go on and on (really, there’s a gem or two on every page), but you get the point. Across a Wild Sea is an unwelcome throw-back to the bad old days of romance when paper-thin, one-note characterizations; plots complicated and resolved by implausible coincidences; and, above all, purple prose of the most turgid sort reigned supreme. Appropriately, the book features cover quotes by the aforementioned Bertrice and Virginia, but it must be noted that one is also inexplicably included by Lisa Kleypas who hails Ms. Lord as “a remarkable new author” and goes on to praise her “self-assured prose and blistering sensuality”. Frankly, the generosity of this astounds me and I can only counsel that if you like Lisa Kleypas, you’re most definitely not not going to like Sasha Lord.
A visit to the author’s web site shows that Ms. Lord is a veterinarian, a profession I respect and admire. But, as somebody who loves both animals and good romance novels, I’m hoping that she will eventually be persuaded to stick to that day job. Those animals need her.