Monday, April 4, 2011

Marrying the Captain, by Carla Kelly

The first is a series of three books following the illegitimate offspring of a none too heroic naval officer, Marrying the Captain is the story of Eleanor Massie, also known as Nana.  When her father decides to sell her to the highest bidder to pay his gambling debts, Nana runs from his influence and the school for girls he sent her to. Finding sanctuary with her grandmother in her hometown of Plymouth, she tries her hardest to keep the Mulberry, the boarding house she and her grandmother run, from closing down. Living in a navy town, Nana is reminded time and again of her mother's fall from grace and the circumstances of her birth and swears she will not be persuaded to meet the same end.

Naval Captain Oliver Worthy is given what at first looks like an innocuous assignment by his commanding officer (Nana's father) to find her and keep an eye on her while he is in Plymouth. His ship, the Tireless, is in dry dock for repairs to damage done in a skirmish with the French. As part of the blockade of the French coast, Oliver cannot wait to get back to sea. And as a life-long navy man, he has seen too many comrades die in battle and leave families behind to grieve. He swears that he will never marry and put someone through the pain of waiting for him to come home. Well, you know what they say about good intentions.

Oliver takes up residence at the Mulberry and predictably, he and Nana fall in love. What's not predictable are the obstacles thrown in their path; French spies, kidnapping and cowardly Admirals among them. The ending, when it comes, is a satisfying conclusion to a story whose outcome is not guaranteed.

This is the first Carla Kelly book I've read, and it won't be the last. I have the two sequels on order, and look forward to re-visiting with Nana and Oliver in those.  For a quick read, almost innocent in its story-telling and characterizations, Marrying the Captain is a sweet diversion.

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