vrijdag 5 november 2010

Suzanne Enoch – Rules of an engagement

The third novel in the Adventurers Club series, published in 2010.

Rules of an engagement

For proper young ladies, good behavior has always been the rule.

Captain Bradshaw Carroway loves the seafaring life - though he'd rather be battling brigands than his current assignment of ferrying a boatload of spoiled aristocrats. One passenger, however, has caught his eye: a bewitching young minx who definitely distracts him from the rules of shipboard decorum . . .

Some rules, of course, are meant to be broken.

Miss Zephyr Ponsley has travelled the world, but she's completely innocent in the ways of love. She's never learned to dance or flirt. But scientific observation has taught her that the laws of attraction have no rules, and that no adventure, on land or sea, is more dangerous - or delicious - than passion!

Captain Bradshaw Carroway thought he liked nothing better than being captain on his own war ship, fighting enemies and pirates, holding the wheal in storms, being free of society. But on his last battle he lost his best friend to a stray bullet, and suddenly he has lost his appetite for fighting and bloodshed. Still, he is not ready to retire yet, but he is restless. Then the Duke of Somerset asks him for a favour on his next journey. Apparently, the Duke knows his orders better than he does, when he has to report to Australia. The Duke asks him to deliver something for him on Tahiti, where he made a promise to a man a decade ago. So now Shaw has something to focus on during the long journey to Australia.

Finally arrived in Australia, he at long last gets his orders. Not something he would have expected, or what an ordinary naval captain would have liked. He is to escort a famous botanist, dr. Joseph Ponsley and his daughter on a tour of the islands in the Pacific, including somewhere in that list Tahiti. He is to guard them, and to help them establish contact with the natives, even though some of them are known cannibals!

Miss Zephyr Ponsley has a very low regard for Shaw, as she finds out he doesn’t read very much. She thinks all naval persons are bloodthirsty and wanting to fight. She believes he would rather shoot the natives on sight then make friends of them. But she is to be proven so very wrong.

Shaw is surprised by this young miss, who is not like any lady he has ever met. She insults him continually, and is very blunt and outspoken. She helps her father by making sketches of his finds, and to help harvesting not only botanicals, but also insects and birds and such. And Shaw will have to find a way to stow them on his ship, not knowing about that last part until his carpenter is asked to make some birdcages. But he likes Zephyr and indulges her as much as he can. Unfortunately, just before they start the journey, some other stranded passengers are foisted of on him and his ship. As the war with France is over, his ship is only half staffed, so luckily for those passengers and their servants, he has the room in the officers quarters to house them. But they are demanding and ungrateful and question his authority way too much.

Lots of adventures for Zephyr and her father, and Shaw and his crew in gathering the specimens the botanist wants, and with the contact with the natives. Both friendly and not so friendly. And Zephyr and Shaw are getting to know each other, are attracted to each other. Each has to figure out what he or she wants in life. Shaw couldn’t see himself settle down on land, with a house and a wife, but now he has met Zephyr, things change. And Zephyr was content travelling the world with her father as his assistant, knowing she is not as important to him as his work is. Having a place of her own or a husband, never crossed her mind. Until Shaw. Of course other men have tried to seduce her, but she has never been tempted.

I really liked the story, even though I couldn’t read for long stretches, or concentrate as I should. I liked Shaw and Zephyr, though she really was very harsh with him. He was amused by her biting comments, and attracted to her at the same time. Love came as a surprise to both of them. They are both strong characters, but complemented each other. There was enough time to really find out about the other before they finally became lovers, which I prefer. Not a book filled with seduction and one lovescene after another. Their adventure was a good one, and sometimes exciting to follow. Something like that cannot happen in those modern times anymore, I really loved it.

Suzanne Enoch is one of my favourite authors, I like the writing style, the humor, the characters, both primary and secondary. But I still love her contemporary Samantha Jellicoe series best of all.

8 stars.

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