Sunday, February 25, 2007
Spotlight review on.....Captain's Lady
CAPTAIN’S LADY – Sharon Milburn
Cerridwen Press's Cotillion Line – www.cerridwenpress.com
England – 19th Century
Alice Carstairs knows how one can be very creative with a turnip, but if she never sees one again, it will be too soon. A cousin of Lavinia Masterman, Alice was taken into the Masterman household as no more than a servant and nanny for Lavinia’s two daughters, Penelope and an infant daughter that Lavinia hasn’t seen fit to name. Alice suffered greatly when her father shamed the family and was called a traitor, but her situation has gone from bad to worse since Lavinia’s husband, Sir Gregory’s, death. Now, they’re not much more than paupers, thanks to Gregory’s mishandling of the family’s funds. The family attorney takes great pride in waving their misfortunes in front of Alice’s nose, but she is determined to keep her chin up and make the best of a bad situation. She does not know how to feel when she learns of Gregory’s brother, Captain Edward Masterman’s inheritance of the title, but it cannot get much worse than it already is.
Captain Masterman’s first introduction to Alice is an enlightening one, and he tries hard to reconcile the gently bred lady’s demeanor with the harridan his niece Penelope paints her as. Edward does not know of the squalor the family has been left in, nor does he know that Alice has done her utmost best in keeping the family together, sheltered, and reasonably fed. Penelope’s petulant cry that she is always relegated to the kitchen sounds demeaning, even if the reason is that it’s the warmest room in the house. Thanks to his service at Trafalgar and the many years he’s spent away from his homeland, Edward has a great deal of catching up to do. A war hero for his years spent in service to the crown, Edward feels lost if he’s not captaining a ship, so it comes as no surprise that he has no idea where to begin in navigating his new title and estate. Quickly he learns of all that Alice has done to keep the family together, and due to the remaining servants who sing her praise, it’s not long before Edward turns to her for more than advice.
With a great deal of trepidation and not a small amount of timidity, Alice gets to know her cousin-in-law and finds that he’s not a tyrant who will bully those lesser than he. Edward has a lot to speak for him, not least of which is his honor and thoughtfulness for those in his care. Surely, he is a great captain and England is fortunate to have him! But Alice senses in him a longing to get back to the sea, even as she fights her budding emotions for him. Edward, for his part, works hard to ignore his interest in Alice, although he wants only the best for her. Rapidly, he sets to rights the household budget and sees that everyone is provided for. It consternates him how Alice constantly worries that he spends too much money on her and the family, but there hasn’t been any turnip broth since Edward’s return, to her great delight.
CAPTAIN’S LADY has a lot to recommend it, and it was my great fortune to have read one of the first offerings in Cerridwen Press’s new Cotillion line. With great attention to detail and an obvious delight for this genre on the author’s part, Alice and Edward are characters who make the reader care. One cannot help but cheer on Alice as she takes on her unknown future and shows her spirit and gumption even in the face of despair. With great attention to detail and fleshing out of the various characters who add verve and vitality to Alice and Edward’s story, Sharon Milborn displays a great talent for defining a new age for the traditional Regency romance.
Make sure CAPTAIN’S LADY is on your shopping list for your next stop at Cerridwen Press.