Dear Ms. McCabe,
I think this is an example of one of the best titles I’ve seen in a long time. Why? Because it basically covers just about everything in the plot. Like the first of the new Harlequin Undone line I read, “Libertine Lord, Pickpocket Miss” by Bronwyn Scott, it’s a short story – a very short story – about two people who meet and fall almost instantly in love.
Maria Gonzales has lived a hard life so I wouldn’t blame her for grabbing a chance to improve her lot. Though family connections, she’s advanced to being a maid for a young Spanish noblewoman on her way to the Caribbean be married. When the ship goes down in a violent storm, only Maria survives. When she’s mistaken for the Contessa by the ship’s crew who rescue her, she decides to go along with it. Good food, nice clothes, people to wait on her – what’s not to like? But she knows she needs to be careful around Carlos de Alameda as the man has eyes like a hawk and misses nothing.
Carlos isn’t sure of the young woman who was brought to Santo Domingo. She’s the right age, and very pretty, but her hands tell a different story than do her words. She’s known hard labor – something a pampered daughter of Spain would not. But his plans to watch her fall to pieces when their overwhelming attraction overwhelms them. So to speak.
I’m not sure if I’ll continue reading this new Harlequin line. It’s not because the story lines are bad, nor because the writing is slipshod. The short length is just too short for my tastes. Carlos and Maria are both characters I would have loved to have seen for a longer time. Maria is smart, shrewd and open to advancing herself by any means she can. Unlike the other women, she keeps her head as the ship goes down and manages to live to tell the tale. She’s a survivor and I find these characters to be fascinating.
Carlos is also a strong person. From being the son of a disgraced nobleman in Spain, he’s managed to claw his way back up the social ladder and now commands a position of importance in the New World. He’s made the most of his opportunities but without being ruthless.
However, there’s simply too much to tell for the amount of space you have. Add to that the fact that there’s a multipage sex scene and the story runs out of word count before I wanted it to end. I wanted to know how Carlos was going to reconcile his ambitions with marriage to a tavern maid and how Maria was going to be able to pull off a lifetime impersonation. Only the fact that you bring these two together with a neat twist at the end prevented the use of a deus ex machina to wrap up the HEA.
The characters interested me, the setting of the Spanish Main in 1535 makes me salivate but the amount of time is just not enough. I do plan on reading “High Seas Stowaway” and hope to see more of Carlos in it. B- for the things I liked but C for the length.
This book can be purchased in ebook format only from Sony or other etailers.