The Tiger's Bride
Retired Air Force Colonel Merline Lovelace is quite prolific, writing full-length suspense, contemporary, series, and historical romance. Until now, my favorite book by her was the medieval, Lady’s Ransom. What struck me so much about that book was the sense of honor and responsibility the hero and heroine felt, and the fact that neither whined, even when blamed for something they didn’t do.
The same could be said for Privateer James Kerrick, Third Viscount Straithe, and Sarah Abernathy, an on-the-shelf daughter of a missionary stationed in Macao, who has spent her adult life looking after her siblings. In a letter, Sarah has asked to accompany Kerrick on his ship to locate her missing father, who, with misguided zeal, often lands himself in trouble on his religious missions. Kerrick, known as a rogue who was drummed out of the Royal Navy, has not responded. And so Sarah illicitly makes her way to the brothel he is known to frequent and confronts him there.
Their attraction is immediate and strong and wonderful. Though he will not take up her cause, he finds himself drawn to this strong, impressively-chested woman. He gets a taste of her humor, and senses her courage and passion. On the other hand, Sarah thinks she has learned, first-hand, why James has his roguish reputation, although he is far more honorable than the very men who ruined his name.
James soon learns just how strong and courageous Sarah truly is, when he discovers her as a stow-away during his next smuggler’s run. His sense of honor and responsibility dictate that she be returned to shore immediately, but she soon wins the crew over to her side, and after she helps wheedle a good deal for him, he allows her to stay.
Author Lovelace has written a wonderful sea-bound road romance in Tiger’s Bride, one that is brimming with humor, passion, and honor. There’s even a desert isle thrown in for good measure, on which Sarah and James become intimate. Enough details of China during the 1800’s are provided to give a strong sense of time and place, but the story never has that history-lesson feel to it.
The secondary characters are not as well developed, and seem included simply to advance the love story. Sarah’s father, until we meet him, seems a comical sort, and her beautiful-but-prissy sister Abigail is a bit too wan for my tastes. Because Abigail is so lovely and Sarah is such an unusual beauty, Sarah fears that James will prefer Abigail to her. And, for a time, Sarah decides that this would be for the best because, while she wants James, she feels Abigail would be “good” for him. Lucky for us, James doesn’t pay much attention to Abigail beyond an initial once-over. Sarah’s insecurities are realistic; however, Abigail’s secondary romance with James’ second-in-command seems unnecessary.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Tiger’s Bride the continual reference to an ancient sex manual. James and Sarah are a lusty pair, and it was fun to read love scenes filled with joy, and often, humor. There is adventure and enough conflict to satisfy most any romance reader. If you are looking for a feel-good romance, feel free to try this one.