The Captain's Daughter
Many historical romances are full of high drama and characters whose daring and tragedy flood the page with emotion. The Captain’s Daughter comes to us from an author whose style is a dip into warm and calming waters. I was immersed immediately in the flow of the writing and the struggles of people who have simple goals – to rise above poverty, have a safe place to live, enough food to eat, be surrounded by loving family, and live guided by divine purpose. This is the first book in Ms. Delamere’s London Beginnings series, which follows the lives and loves of three sisters raised in an orphanage.
The story opens in 1873 with Rosalyn, Julia, and Caroline Bernay poised on a Dartmoor cliff, literally and figuratively. After their mother’s death and father’s disappearance at sea, the Bernay girls are placed in George Müller’s orphanage, and now, the eldest sister, Rosalyn, is leaving to assume a housemaid’s position. Six years later we find Rosalyn fleeing her position to avoid the unwanted attentions of her employer’s new husband and accusations of theft. Her plan is to catch a train to Bristol to be with her sister Julia and hopefully find a solution to her current dilemma.
Nate Moran was a supply sergeant in the British army before an attack on his regiment in Peshawar, India, left him with a seriously injured hand and a forced medical leave so that he can recover at his London home. He blames the attack’s success on his preoccupation with a “Dear John” letter he had received that day from his fiancée. Appalled by his costly mistake, Nate vows to pass the upcoming physical examination and rejoin his regiment so that he can try to make amends. At a London train station, he sees a young woman being harassed by an unsavory man, and he steps up to offer his help. Another woman flies into the picture claiming to be the young woman’s Aunt Molly. The ladies leave arm-in-arm, and Nate goes on his way, uncertain he has done the right thing by the young woman he had tried to help.
Instead of the savior she thought Molly might be, Rosalyn discovers that she has been duped into a house of prostitution and escapes to find herself on the street, penniless and homeless with no way to get to Julia. A series of fortunate happenstances culminate in her employment in the theater company of the Gilbert and Sullivan hit comic operetta H.M.S. Pinafore. Nate is working backstage at the theater, and he and Rosalyn renew their acquaintance and begin a friendship.
The romantic conflict is straightforward. Nate is attracted to Rosalyn but determined to return to the army, not from passion for the work but from guilt for the injuries he feels he caused. On her side, Rosalyn’s affection grows for Nate in whose arms she feels protected and loved. But he is returning to India, and going with him would mean leaving her two sisters behind. In addition, having previously experienced the pain of bidding a loved one farewell with little assurance of his safe return, Rosalyn is reluctant to risk her heart.
The inspirational themes are taken from the biblical books of Proverbs and Lamentations. The proverb states that man plans, but God orders his steps, and in Lamentations, the lesson is that God’s compassion will not fail and His faithfulness is everlasting. Throughout the book we are shown that God is watching out for our hero and heroine and gently maneuvers circumstances so that in time, Nate and Rosalyn may have their happily-ever-after.
The author puts her passion for Gilbert and Sullivan operettas into her behind-the-scenes theater descriptions and uses her knowledge to build the situations through which Nate and Rosalyn learn about God, life, and love. Ms. Delamere provides an engaging portrait of this famous composing duo, their popular music, and the legal and physical challenges of running a theater company in Victorian England. The title of the book is a clever play on words taken from the operetta as well as Rosalyn’s status as a captain’s daughter.
This is an easy book to read. Descriptions and dialogue flow smoothly to present a story that is interesting, gentle in its romance, and satisfying in its ending. After I finished it, I slipped my CD from the H.M.S. Pinafore into my computer and worked all afternoon to the wonderful music. When you need a break from over-the-top trauma and characters who are larger than life, get a copy of The Captain’s Daughter and settle in for a good read.