An audiobook about a stowaway refined lady who causes all sorts of trouble on board a Royal navy vessel? Yes, please!
As the first full-length novel in The White Sails Series, DISCERNING GRACE captures the spirit of an independent woman whose feminine lens blows the ordered patriarchal decks of a 19th century tall ship to smithereens.
Wilful Grace Baxter, will not marry old Lord Silverton with his salivary incontinence and dead-mouse stink. Discovering she is a pawn in an arrangement between slobbery Silverton and her calculating father, Grace is devastated when Silverton reveals his true callous nature.
Refusing this fate, Grace resolves to stow away. Heading to the docks, disguised as a lad to ease her escape, she encounters smooth-talking naval recruiter, Gilly, who lures her aboard HMS Discerning with promises of freedom and exploration in South America.
When Grace‘s big mouth lands her bare-bottomed over a cannon for insubordination, her identity is exposed. The captain wants her back in London but his orders, to chart the icy archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, forbid it. Lieutenant Seamus Fitzwilliam gallantly offers to take Grace off the fretting captain’s hands by placing her under his protection.
Grace must now win over the crew she betrayed with her secret, while managing her feelings towards her taciturn protector, whose obstinate chivalry stifles her new-found independence. But when Grace disregards Lieutenant Fitzwilliam’s warnings about the dangers of the unexplored archipelago, it costs a friend his life and she realises she is not as free as she believes.
The audiobook of this is perfectly narrated by Siobhan Waring. Her voice is the perfect accompaniment to this feisty story.
Grace is a character that you fall in love with almost instantly, going from a pretty pampered, yet ignored lady to a press-ganged “boy” is one that I didn’t know I needed. I loved all the characters, I did shed a few tears at some points and rejoiced at others. Lieutenant Fitzwilliam is a breath of fresh air, and to be honest it was refreshing to have a romantic historical novel where there wasn’t really a misunderstanding between the two characters.
There is plenty of suspense and romance, and again, it was nice to have hints of sexual tension without it descending into chaos. Grace and Fitzwilliam are two of my favourite characters of the romance books I’ve read this year. I enjoyed this book so much, I had to go and find the bonus chapter immediately after and I’m already eagerly awaiting the second book to read.
Thanks to Love Books Tours and Emma Lombard for the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this little journey across the seas, the family that Grace created on the ship and the way it all played out.