Desert Isle Keeper
The Sea Wife
The best thing about being a reviewer for AAR is that it leads me to read books I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up. The Sea Wife is a one I probably would not have discovered on my own: not only have I never heard of this author, but the horrid cover art depicts the hero and heroine sailing the seas of cheese. I’m happy to say that the cover is entirely deceptive. This is a well-written, fast-paced, passionate, and red-blooded love story.
Sabina Grey is the innocent young daughter of a naturalist; she was with him when he died in South America. She is on her way home to England when catastrophe strikes and the ship she’s on sinks. She is saved from drowning by a fellow passenger, Myles Dampier, and the two are soon picked up by another passing ship. Grieving, shocked, and bereft of every possession she has ever owned, she is unable to resist the compelling Myles. In a hasty ceremony, fraught with misunderstanding and manipulation, they marry. Only after Sabina and Myles have returned to England does she realize the full extent of her predicament. She is in love with her enigmatic, arrogant husband – but she is only a tool in his scheme for vengeance against the family that betrayed him.
I can’t tell you much more about the plot of this book, because Myles keeps lots of secrets, not just from Sabina but from us as well. The revelations are nicely paced and kept me on the edge of my seat, and the big one made me gasp aloud.
Sabina is our only point-of-view character in this book, and she’s not always easy to like. At the beginning she is naïve to a fault, and when she’s afraid or crossed she has a tendency to be petulant. Some readers might think her a doormat. I didn’t. Sabina regards herself as the most ordinary of girls, but she has a core of dignity and strength that serves her well in her dealings with Myles. She matures a lot over the course of the book, and though she is inexperienced, her idealism and stubborn faith in Myles are inner strengths that he never manages to defeat. And speaking of Myles – he is maddening, arrogant, frustrating, and completely irresistible.
One of the nice things about this book is that nothing distracts from the central drama. There’s no secondary romance or mystery subplot. As a result, the author is able to keep the emotional tension screwed up to a fever pitch throughout the book. It’s extremely suspenseful, not because there are crimes and clues, but because I just couldn’t wait to find out what happens between Myles and Sabina. I was up half the night reading this thing.
Not everyone will like this book. Myles is, frankly, a magnificent bastard, and the way he treats Sabina is far from gentlemanly. Personally, I love a book in which a magnificent bastard is redeemed by true love. If you also enjoy that sort of thing I suggest you avert your gaze from the cover art and grab a copy of The Sea Wife immediately. As far as I know, it’s Holly Cook’s first book; I know I’ll want to read her next one.