Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Swept Away by Marsha Canham

I'm amazed when I find another new-to-me author that I love, and it makes me wonder how many more are out there!! I read Marsha Canham's Jacobite books a while back on a recommendation from PBS, and really liked them. Another PBS reader has challenged me to read more, and consider her books for Conversion Kit status, so I ordered them. I'm not sure when or why I got Swept Away (probably as a 2-for-1 deal on PBS?) but it was truly wonderful.

Canham's writing is incredible - this book has adventure scenes that went on and on and practically had me breathing hard from the suspense and action. These scenes rival any movie car chases!

The heroine is Annaleah, a 20-year-old woman raised in a traditional British household during the Regency. Her mother is, predictably, trying to find a suitable marriage for her, and has managed to get 3 proposals from more-than-suitable young men with titles and money, none of which Anna will even consider. Her older sister is already married to one of those suitable men, with an heir and a spare on the way. Her older brother isn't yet married, but is the traditional-type, interested in politics and all that. In fact, although Anna is shown to be stubborn and head-strong and independent, she really isn't all that much - she just doesn't want to settle for someone she doesn't love.

When she refuses to attend a ball, she is packed away to her spinster great-aunt's to consider her future. The purpose is, no doubt, to let her see the error of her ways by seeing how she could turn out. In fact, Auntie Lal (Florence) is wealthy and independent and not nearly as dottie as everyone would believe.

While out walking the beach one morning, Anna discovers the still-breathing-body of Emory. As it turns out, once Auntie gets a look at him, she recognizes him as the 3rd son of a local family. He's wanted for treason and has been gone for some years. His eldest brother, who inherited the family title, is now dead, and 2nd son is - well, he thinks he's a bird. The 4th son is the local vicar - Auntie brings the vicar over, and amongst them all, they decide to keep Emory's arrival a secret until he wakes up and can explain himself.

Emory awakens to a vision - it's Anna, backlit by the sun, but he thinks he's dead and in heaven. Anna, however, isn't as taken with him. I love how Canham shows her to be real - she may be stubborn and feisty and independent in rejecting suitors whom she doesn't love - but in reality, she's scared spitless to be in the room with this criminal! She doesn't go against her upbringing and training lightly. It isn't until she challenges him to kiss her with his "best effort" that she feels the connection that motivates her to go against her upbringing and follow her desires. The kiss is instigated when her most recent suitor shows up - it's meant both to discourage the suitor and to hide Emory's identity. It quickly escalates, however, to something more.

The action scenes are truly wonderful, and the suspense is kept until the very last minute - you think you know whodunit, but then you are proved wrong, and proved wrong again! The love scenes are hot and romantic and everything I look for in a romance novel.

I think I'm onto a new glom for everything Marsha Canham - when will I ever finish my TBR pile?? 5 stars!

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