I do like ships. And I love roses! So when I noticed that Linda Windsor’s Border Rose is about a ship, I was excited and I hoped the book would be good. However, I was somewhat disappointed – Windsor came up with a good story, (interesting characters, unique setting) but she is not a storyteller. If someone had explained the plot to me, I would have said, “Hey, that’s probably a great book!” But poor characterization and odd sentence structure distracted me from the meat of the story.
It is not long after the War for Independence. Rose Beaujeu is part of a long-established, sea-faring, New England family. She grew up on ships, and if she had been male, she would have eventually been captain of her own ship. As a woman, she must be content to be owner of a ship – her Border Rose. Dillon MacKay grew up on Rose’s father’s ship, working his way up the ranks of the crew, and learning everything there is to know about command. As children, young Rose viewed the older Dillon as her hero.
It is now years later. Rose and her ship are attacked by none other than (the come-lately-pirate) Dillon MacKay. According to the laws of the sea, Rose must relinquish ownership papers of the vessel to Dillon. Spitefully, she hides them. The story progresses (I don’t want to give away too much), and eventually, Dillon and Rose are forced to marry. (Women in Rose’s family tend to marry their enemies, and, in fact, live their motto: “Love your enemy.”) When Dillon’s ships are targeted by an unknown enemy, in his efforts to uncover the truth, he keeps a few secrets from Rose, causing her to feel betrayed and turning the plot into a hero/heroine “misunderstanding.”
From the beginning, Rose does not deny her attraction to Dillon. In fact, she seems to embrace her destiny. But Rose’s character is very contradictory – sometimes she acts with self-assurance and intelligence, other times she is childish and petulant. I realize Windsor is probably trying to develop the rashness of Rose’s nature, but Rose’s actions are not consistent. I never really got a fix on her character, she seemed fake, unrealistic.
On the other hand, Windsor developed Dillon’s character moderately well. But since his actions were so tied up with Rose, I wasn’t pleased. Additionally, I didn’t like the secondary characters. They seemed like “token” personalities. I prefer novels with secondary characters that fit into the story realistically and serve a definite purpose.
I get the impression that Windsor spent a long time pouring over every word, phrase, and paragraph in this book. As a result, a lot of the dialogue seems forced and scenes seem disjointed. As an example, in one scene, Rose and Dillon are making love. Windsor starts describing the scene clearly – Rose touches Dillon, Dillon kisses Rose, both are feeling pretty good – but when things really start to heat up, Windsor switches to metaphorical language and loses the whole reality of the scene. As a reader, I lost interest at that point. I’m more interested in Rose and Dillon’s emotions and reactions than vague metaphors.
Altogether, I do admit the novel could have been much worse. I liked learning about this setting and time in history, since I haven’t read any books in this particular time period. And I liked Dillon MacKay. But the general bad writing and inconsistent characterization in Border Rose was distracting. I would not recommend buying this book, but if you see it at the library, and you like ship books, it might be a good choice.