OBC Blurb: Ever since her father tried to sell her as a mistress to the highest bidder, Eleanor Massie has chosen to live in poverty. Her world changes overnight when Captain Oliver Worthy shows up at her struggling inn. Despite herself, Nana is drawn to her handsome guest….
Oliver planned to stay in Plymouth only long enough to report back to Lord Ratliffe — about Nana. But he soon senses that Lord Ratliffe is up to something, and Oliver will do anything to keep this courageous, beautiful woman safe — even marry her!
Like Wendy, I am a Harlequin Historicals ho. I admit it. And every now and again, they come up with one that makes me sigh such a contented sigh when I close the book. This is one such book. The focus is almost completely on Oliver and Nana, and their love story.
I loved Oliver and Nana. Their relationship was so natural, so gentle. Oliver is a lifelong military man, yet he's a fair-minded commander, kind to his men, inspiring loyalty. There are definite touches of reality, along with a glimpse of his gentler side, almost immediately. He is embarrassed by having to use the chamberpot in front of Nana (something I always wonder about in historicals, BTW!). He realizes that she has seen him naked while he was ill. I loved the scene where he went to the wigmaker to look at the hair that Nana sold. So sweet, and a wonderful glimpse into his growing feelings for her.
Nana, for her part, was strong, doing what needed to be done. She sold her hair in order to keep food on the table. She matter-of-factly took care of Oliver when he was ill. No vapors for her. But she had a gentler side as well. She didn't feel good enough for Oliver - worrying that as a bastard child she would bring him down. I did like that Kelly didn't drag that storyline out too long, and allowed Oliver to persuade Nana fairly quickly. It's one of my least favorite plots.
As for the romance... it's set against the Napoleonic wars in Plymouth, where many a ship came into dock for repairs or for furlough. I loved how the relationship between Oliver and Nana developed. I loved how Oliver, as the son of a vicar (so many military men were), would call upon something that his father would have said or done, or thought about a teaching from his father. He was obviously a good man, who had a good upbringing. Yet at the same time, as a lifelong military man, his biggest fear was of marrying and leaving his wife a widow.
The romance between the two was so sweet to watch - even after he left to go back to the war. They wrote letters, he sent her a gift. And in a particularly heartbreaking scene, after they are married, he cries in her arms over the death of his first mate.
She was the perfect mate for him, and I loved it. The ending, with its bit of spying, and Nana chasing after him in order to deliver a ransom, was a bit far-fetched, but didn't dwindle my enjoyment of this wonderful romance. The blurb implies that Oliver felt forced to marry her. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was a love story, through and through. So many of the books we read are difficult to call real romances. I truly felt like I was reading a romance between these two. How marvelous it was.