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REVIEW: Sea Change by Darlene Marshall

Dear Ms. Marshall,

Hello down there in hot, steamy Florida. Lots of authors might choose various contemporary locations in that state for their books but I love that you’ve staked out early 19th century Florida and sea captains, privateers and pirates for yours. Then you smooth on a layer of Yanks vs the Brits to really spice things up. We weren’t quite in the same league with the British yet but with the Baltimore built schooner that Captain David Fletcher sails so successfully, we were on our way.

Sea Change by Darlene MarshallCharlotte “Charley” Alcott has been trained by her doctor father since she was a child but after his death, she has no relations in England to gladly take her in and the ones she does have would probably want her to give up what she loves best – trying to heal people. So with her square face, tall build, and blunt features helping to hide her gender, she works out a deal to act as a ship’s doctor for passage to her godfather in Jamaica. There she hopes to be able to continue her studies with him. And everything was going just fine until the “Fancy” shows up. Her masked captain and crew steal everything not nailed down including one young Dr. Alcott.

David Fletcher badly needs a doctor to help his injured younger brother. Alcott looks young but he seems competent and David gives him no choice in the matter. Once Alcott proves himself, David is also not inclined to take the man to any port where he might leave the company of the “Fancy.” The crew like him and David finds Charley to be an intelligent person with whom, as the ship’s Captain, he can relax, play chess and enjoy a good evenings conversation.

Henry Fletcher, who cleverly figures out early on exactly what Charley is up to, warns her that when David discovers her secret there’ll be hell to pay. But Charley is enjoying the respect she’s getting as a doctor and relishes the opportunities to improve her knowledge. She’s also falling dangerously in love with this man who is as handsome as she is plain. Will he ever see her as a desirable woman. Could they possibly have a future together? And where will the enemy British Navy strike next during this War of 1812?

Thank you, thank you for having Charley practice state of 1814 medicine. She bleeds people, she realizes when amputations are the only way to save someone’s life and if she’d had them, I’ll bet she’d have applied leeches left and right. She’s also a natural doctor whose first concern is always her patients and who lives for new and interesting things to study and learn about. She has a fantastic bedside manner and knows the importance of having a ship’s cat to keep down the rat population. Can you tell I love the kitties? Her confidence in what she knows also gives her the strength to stand up to Captain Fletcher’s initial overbearing manner and earns her his respect as well as that of the crew. I smiled with her to learn that the crew enjoys not only showing up for sick call but then rehashing in exquisite detail every aspect of their illnesses, injuries and what “their” doctor did to cure them.

David begins the book as an arrogant ass but quickly learns he can’t boss the stripling Charley around. And that’s when he starts to relax and enjoy Charley’s company as a way to de stress from the pressures of being in total control of his ship and responsible for the crews’ lives. He even begins to worry about young Charley who has obviously never,… um, …you know! The scene where he force marches Charley to the finest little whorehouse on the island with orders not to leave before he’s sampled the best is a scream. Never let it be said he doesn’t have the best interests of his “men” at heart. Yet Charley manages to turn the night into another wonderful learning opportunity by quizzing the ladies about their work, thoughts on men and the best way to deal with the creatures. David’s amazement at Charley’s supposed prowess – based on the way the smiling whores wave “him” off – caps the whole episode.

The Big Reveal is done in a dramatic yet funny way with Charley almost pulling David under with her after she falls overboard and he tries to rescue her. His outrage at her deception is almost as great as the delusion the crew happily indulges in when David tries to “out” Charley to them. They know a good doctor when they’ve got one. David finally realizing the truth also allows him to explore those feelings he’s been feeling for Charley and which he was almost ready to give into regardless of her gender. And the sexing is hawt! Though I wonder – just how far does sound carry through a ship? I’m glad that Charley is realistic about their relationship- if this is all she might ever have, by God she’s going to enjoy it – and willing to take it for what it is. That is until the separation then final reunion. Then I’m glad she knocks David’s block off both physically – I do also agree with Charley’s anger at David’s delay – and with her newfound feminine confidence in her improved clothes and better styled hair. Thank you also for not simply removing some spectacles and revealing a swan.

David’s ultimate plans dovetail nicely into the situation you’ve set up. Sailing is his life and one that Charley has discovered is for her too. It will also allow her to continue to heal people though hopefully not from the effects of war anymore. David and Charley are now matched perfectly with strength meeting strength as well as making up for weaknesses. I’m sure there will continue to be fireworks aboard their new ship the “Harpy,” which BTW I love the name of, but they seem to be off to a good start. But where’s Pirate? I hope they’re sailing with their First Cat on their new adventures. B+

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

21 Comments

  1. Emma Hillman
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 05:10:57

    Thanks for the review. The book sounded right my alley so I just ordered it on Kindle. Can’t wait to read it!

    That 1-click buying is bad for my bank account, but that’s another issue…

  2. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 05:18:19

    @Emma Hillman: I’ve heard “1-click” is seductive evilness for bank accounts and thus far I’ve managed to avoid giving into it.

    If you like this book, watch for the next one in the series (which I’ve beta read) which follows the English doctor Charlie encounters twice in the book.

  3. Kate Sherwood
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 05:53:31

    Ooh, this one sounds good! Thanks for the recommendation; I look forward to meeting the ship-kitties.

  4. Sandra
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 06:13:47

    Being a (Central) Floridian myself, I’ve happily read all of Darlene’s books. It makes a book more enjoyable when you’re not only familiar with the author’s settings, but can have confidence that she got them right. Plus they’re good books and fun reads. I’m looking forward to the next one.

  5. LisaCharlotte
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 07:14:30

    Holy Crap! $16?!?! My wish list runneth over, but at these prices I’m not buying a lot.

  6. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 07:21:22

    @LisaCharlotte: Wow. I had no idea the print price was that much since I have it as an ebook. Am rubbing the bottom of my jaw and wincing at the pain from it dropping to the floor.

  7. Carin
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 07:25:09

    Is this available as an ePub anywhere? It’s not on kobo or Sony or AllRomance. The ebook price on Amazon is $5.60, I think (sorry print readers). But I read ePub and not nook. I’ve never bought from BN (and it looks like they have the print book for $37???) Anyone know what’s going on?

  8. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 07:28:02

    @Carin: Try the Amber Quill website – looks like they’ve got it in epub as well as several other formats for the lower price.

    http://amberquill.com/SeaChange.html

    ETA: it’s on sale there now for $5.25.

  9. Darlene Marshall
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 07:57:51

    What a lovely review to wake up to! (My klutzy middle-aged lady happy dance freaked out the dachshund).

    @Jayne–Of course Pirate goes with them. Dr. Alcott knows the value of a good ratter aboard ship.

    @Carin–What Jayne said. You can get the ePub at Amber Quill on sale, and Sony and BN.com will be adding it to their line-up eventually. They have my backlist up now.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and review Sea Change, Jayne. I very much appreciate it.

  10. Danielle D
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 07:59:20

    Even though I have all of her books I only read the first one and I really enjoyed it. (I bought my books over at Fictionwise.com)

  11. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 08:13:20

    @Darlene Marshall: My klutziness scares my kitty sometimes too. And from the expressions on his face, he dreads me trying to sing to him as well.

    Good to know Pirate is onboard for their future voyages.

  12. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 08:15:17

    @Danielle D: Unless the ebooks are on sale, I never buy at Amber Quill either. Most of the AQ books I’ve got, I bought from Fictionwise.

  13. Carin
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 08:52:11

    It’s not available at fictionwise. I did find it at Amberquill though. It’s tempting me from skipping my workout to just sit on the couch and read…

  14. Kim in Hawaii
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 11:56:08

    Thanks for the review on this particular day – the 197th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner. During a critical battle in the War of 1812, the US flag remained flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor, discouraging the British but inspired Key to write a poem that became our National Anthem.

  15. library addict
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 13:32:59

    Sounds good. I’ll be on the lookout for when the Sony Store lists it.

  16. Vi
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 14:15:24

    This looks good! I just bought it. Recs on other Marshall books?

  17. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 14:25:22

    @Vi: “The Bride and the Buccaneer” is funny. I’ve done reviews on all her published books which you can find by clicking on her name in the tabs section above.

  18. Tae
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 18:54:05

    I’ve never read anything by Darlene, but this sounds really interesting and I’ll look for it

  19. Carin
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 18:18:52

    I bought and read Sea Change after seeing this review. I’m so glad I did! It’s a great book!

  20. Jayne
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 18:39:45

    @Carin: Great! Thanks for posting to let me know. Do try “The Bride and the Buccaneer” and definitely look for the follow up to this book which I’m guessing will be out next year – though I don’t know what the title will end up being. It’s a lot of fun and features a great hero and heroine combo.

  21. JenM
    Sep 26, 2011 @ 17:18:54

    Okay, pirates is one of the tropes I avoid like the plague, but on the other hand, I love books with plain, smart heroines. I had completely ignored this book because I figured it was a typical pirate story, but now, after your review, I’m probably going to end up buying it. Thanks for helping my book addiction along yet again LOL.

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