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REVIEW:  His Heart’s Obsession by Alex Beecroft

REVIEW: His Heart’s Obsession by Alex Beecroft

His-Hearts-Obsession

“Kingston, Jamaica, 1752

Robert Hughes, a lieutenant–and rogue–in the British Royal Navy, is in love with his gorgeous fellow officer, Hal Morgan. Hal only has eyes for their captain–a man who’ll never share their inclinations. Night after night aboard the Swiftsure, it kills Robert to listen to Hal’s erotic dreams of a man he can’t possibly have. Determined to protect his friend, Robert stages a seduction.

But Hal demands proof of love before he will submit to the rakish Robert.

Mission accepted. After all, how hard could it be to show what’s inside his heart? Yet Robert’s move to claim Hal’s love leads to the threat of exposure, and mortal danger from the French. Will a heart obsessed ever accept defeat?”

Dear Ms. Beecroft,

My goodness it’s been a while since I read one of your novels. When I saw this novella listed as an upcoming Carina release, it seemed the perfect thing to break my Beecroft drought. It’s short enough that I sailed through it – pun intended – fairly quickly yet I finished it feeling mildly annoyed with Hal and that Robert might have his work cut out for him if he wants to hear more of Hal’s laughter.

What could be worse than an unrequited love triangle? For two of the three involved to be “inverts” – dreaded sodomites – in His Majesty’s Navy in 1752 – that’s what. Hal Morgan has nursed a pure and completely unreturned love for his captain for years. The pain of it finally threatens to unman him when the Captain seeks his Lieutenant’s advice on wooing a pretty young woman. In Hal’s despair Robert sees a chance to declare himself and attempt to win the love of a man he’s longed for ever since joining the crew of the HMS Swiftsure.

Hal’s rejection of Robert’s initial advances – which is understandable since Robert has a long earned reputation as a practical joker – is expected. But Hal’s continued woe-is-me little martyr act started to grate shortly after it began and got no better as the story progressed. Were I in Robert’s place and if it would not have caused me to be exposed to the full might of the Articles of War, I would have smacked Hal with a truncheon and yelled (like Cher) “Snap out of it!” Robert truly must be in love to persevere in the face of this determined pity party.

Once Hal had finally – finally! – snapped out of it and decided that yes, he could excise his fruitless love for the Captain and after that, accept the devotion of a happy-go-lucky man who, in spite of all Hal’s sulks, never wavered, things looked up and got better but it was a long trip to the HFN in His Majesty’s Navy. C-

~Jayne

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REVIEW: Coming Home for Christmas (Anthology) by Carla Kelly

REVIEW: Coming Home for Christmas (Anthology) by Carla Kelly

Dear Mrs. Kelly,

I know that when I start a Carla Kelly book, I’ll get a certain number of things. An honorable hero, an unflappable heroine, some idiot secondary characters who may bluster and threaten to cause the hero and heroine some problems but who usually are mainly all hot air and dismissed as the pompous stuffed shirts they are and a gentle love story of two people finding each other – often where they least expected. As this is a linked anthology, here I get this in triplicate which makes sense since all three stories involve the military and we know how much the military, the world over and throughout time, loves its paperwork.

Coming Home for Christmas (anthology) by Carla Kelly1812 Alta California and stranded Navy surgeon Thomas Wilkie wishes he were home in Scotland rather than in the Spanish held San Diego. Here by the fortunes of war and left here as a bargaining chip when his remaining shipmates finally head north to where they hope to eventually find passage home to England via the Americans in Oregon, he tends the people of the Presideo and surrounding area since he’s the only medical man between there and Tucson. When lovely Laura Maria Ortize de la Garza finds herself ostracized due to her father’s embezzling, Thomas also finds himself in the unlikely position of savior and new husband. Can this unlikely pair discover lasting love from such a beginning?

In 1855 Crimea, widowed Lillian Wilkie Nicholls trusted what she was told – namely that this war would be over in 6 weeks. Two years later she’s still Doing Good in a hospital in Anatolia as she and wards full of wounded soldiers await their return to England. With her is American military observer Major Trey Wharton who has somehow ended up as the administrator of the hospital and who, along with Lily, doesn’t suffer fools or nitwit English surgeons gladly. Their year long friendship will be ending soon – as quickly as the wheels can turn in a military environment. Or will they find the courage to speak up before it’s too late?

1877 Fort Laramie finds Army surgeon Wilkie Nicholls Wharton far from his parents in Philadelphia but finally headed home for Christmas and his long delayed marriage to a fellow Main Line Philadelphian. His hopes for a quiet journey are dashed when he’s asked to keep an eye on lovely Frannie Coughlin who’s also headed East and then has to take responsibility for transporting Nora Powell home from her 13 years of Indian captivity to whatever relatives she still has left in Iowa. Then, just as he thinks he might still get some of his medical journals read, yet another female joins them on the train and precipitates Wilkie and Frannie’s discovery of what they really want this Christmas season.

Paying homage to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegone denizens, in your novels the women are strong, the men are honorable, and the children are usually cute without being annoying. The “villains” are generally just thickheads and idiots who might have a higher rank but who are usually dismissible from the main action by the hero and heroine who are as incapable of intentionally hurting anyone as they are unable to turn their backs on anyone in need. It’s more fantasy than reality but it’s a lovely fantasy to sit down to and drift into for a while as I forget just how awful the latest blaring news headline is. These are people as I would love us all to be.

I enjoyed the way the stories are varied in time and location with a mix of ages, nationalities and – let’s hear it for – experience. Lily Nicholls, who misses the comforts of marriage, and Frannie Coughlin, who earlier anticipated a marriage that never happened, are frank about their wants which delights their heroes no end. One thing I wish had been expanded was the substory of the young woman being returned to white society despite her wishes. There could be a whole book in this. The delightfully devious Sultan was a fun character and Father Hilario an example of pure compassion.

When I finish reading one of your books, I might feel as if I’d had one too many pieces of sugar sweet sheet cake but I also feel happy. These are people I’d like to meet in real life – real salt of the earth sorts.The time just flew while I read about them. And thank you so much for picking varied backgrounds for the characters and locations in which to set your stories here. I still enjoy reading Regency set anthologies but something different every now and then is a real treat. B for each novella.

~Jayne

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