The Marsh Hawk
Grade : C-

The Marsh Hawk is a Regency-set historical romance that features a Cornish setting, highwaymen, a Robin Hood hero, a feisty heroine, and an evil ex-fiancé villain. Add not one, but two big secrets, some hot love scenes and you have the ingredients for what should have been a fun read. If it wasn’t for just a few things…...

When Lady Jenna Hollingsworth’s father is attacked by a highwayman, the encounter disturbs his heart so much that he dies. The authorities are not inclined to investigate the matter, so Jenna takes action herself. From the description, she knows the highwayman is the notorious Marsh Hawk, so she disguises herself, waits for him, and shoots him in the shoulder. Alas, he escapes.

Several months later Jenna is celebrating her engagement to the Viscount Rupert Marner at a masked ball. Actually, she isn’t at all attracted to Rupert, but a woman has to marry, her own parent’s marriage was not a love match, and so Jenna is prepared to make the best of things. At the ball, Jenna sees a man dressed as a highwayman and she faints from the combination of the costume and his magnificent blue eyes. When she comes to, she meets the masked man - Simon Rutherford, The Earl of Kevernwood. Simon fought with Admiral Nelson and has become a rebel against the aristocracy. He is especially angry with the way the establishment treats former members of the military. His rhetoric angers Rupert, who challenges him to a duel. At the duel, Rupert reveals himself to be a cheat and coward. Jenna, having seen her fiancé’s true colors, elopes with Simon. She has fallen in love with him and he with her.

However, there are problems whenever two people marry as hastily as Simon and Jenna do. On their wedding night, she notices a recently healed scar on his shoulder right at the site where she shot the Marsh Hawk, and some of the things that Simon has said lead Jenna to wonder - did she marry the man who was responsible for the death of her father?

Dawn Thompson's first release as Dawn MacTavish has potential, but it’s marred by several problems. The biggest is that the author goes way overboard with descriptions. I like to know what people, places and things look like as much as the next reader, but this book is description overkill. It describes every outfit Jenna wears, every room she enters, every garden she walks in, every bite of food she eats and at one point, not only did we get a description of the green dress she is wearing, but also a description of the burgundy dress she decided not to wear! Also, the author has a knack for awkward phrases – Rupert dosed him with a disdainful glance and Phelp’s encrypted knock at the dressing room door called Simon from his marriage bed. Dosed him? Encrypted knock? These were just a few examples. The book is riddled with sentences ruined by a single word.

Simon and Jenna were both hotheads. She is a classic example of TSTLness, especially when she decides that she simply can’t live with Simon and she is going back to her mother right now!! Never mind that there are highwaymen on the road, she wants to go immediately - if not sooner - and so she does. Of course she is accosted by a highwayman and of course Simon saves her and of course they end up misunderstanding each other. Sigh. There’s also a part where Jenna struggles with jealousy toward Simon’s niece Evelyn, who is semi in love with her uncle. Ick!!

Simon has some nice qualities, especially his sense of social justice and his longing to help his fellow military veterans, but like Jenna he is prone to fly off the handle. Simon is also the world’s worst communicator. There’s one section when his minister friend Rob (who is the nicest character in the book) is trying to remonstrate with him about Jenna, but Simon is unmoved. He doesn’t need to talk to her – she should know how he feels!

And by the way – this book has the most silly sex euphemism I’ve seen in a long time. On their wedding night, Jenna gets her first look at “his greatness”. Pardon me while I wipe tears of laughter off the keyboard.

The Marsh Hawk isn’t all bad – I’d call in an attempt to emulate the larger than life old-school romances of the Woodiwiss/Rogers school. It moves quickly (especially if you skip all the description) and there are parts that are fun in an over the top sort of way. I’ll admit I cheered for Simon when he dons his highwayman garb, robs Rupert, and horsewhips him to pay him back for trying to rape Jenna. I know that other readers may not mind the funky word choices, the lack of communication and/or all the Big Misunderstandings. If you miss the good old days of romance, give this book a read. You might enjoy it.

Reviewed by Ellen Micheletti
Grade : C-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : July 12, 2007

Publication Date: 2007

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