Castaway Dreams by Darlene Marshall
May 6, 2012
Amber Quill Press
Reviewed by Mandi
“Alexander, if you feel this way every time you kiss me, it is going to be a long and uncomfortable voyage. There is no going back, not after last night! That sheep has already left the barn!”
“Horse. That horse has left the barn, Daphne.”
She grabbed him by the lapels of his coat. “This is no time to be discussing the habits of livestock! Kiss me!”
So he did.
Daphne Farnham left London to runaway with her lover, after her father hinted he wanted her to marry someone she didn’t like. Once in Jamaica, her lover died before they could get married. Her father promptly sent a maid down to Jamaica to retrieve Daphne and bring her back to London. While on board the Magpie, Daphne meets the ship’s surgeon, Alexander Murray. After spending many years in the Royal Navy, Alexander is ready to go back to London and settle down. What he didn’t expect to find on his journey accross the sea is the most annoying woman he could ever imagine. Not only is Daphne a rich lady (a very rich heiress) but she doesn’t have a lot in the brains department, at least from the outside. She is flighty, and gullible and her biggest concern in life is that the ribbon on her bonnet matches her shoes. She also has Pompom, her beloved dog who comes first in her life above all others.
Just hearing her voice makes the serious, dour Alexander cringe. He looks at her as useless, and hopes the journey goes by quickly. But Alexander’s stress is just starting. First, Daphne’s maid dies, and as Daphne is the only remaining female on ship, the captain puts Alexander in charge of her (much to his dismay). Then a horrible storm comes and they end up shipwrecked on a deserted island – just the two of them…well, and Pompom too.
I think this is the third book I’ve read by Darlene Marshall and I really enjoy her voice. This one is very light, funny and full of adventure. She pairs a very silly heroine to a very serious hero and it is quite amusing watching these two butt heads. Daphne takes one look at Alexander and sees an older, bland, disapproving man that has probably not had one day of fun in his life. Alexander looks at Daphne and sees someone who has exploded in pink frilliness, who only cares about her clothes and her fluffy dog. What I likes is that, their first impressions of each other are pretty accurate. There is no huge transformation of character in this book. Yes, Alexander learns to have some fun, and yes, Daphne learns to be useful. But these two fall for each other (very slowly and believably) and they still stay true to who they are.
It’s so much fun to read an adventure romance, and in this one we are out at sea, shipwrecked and then on a pirate ship and through it all, Alexander and Daphne start to fall for each other. She vexes him so much at the beginning:
“Miss Farnham, you must ask who is on the other side of the door before opening it,” he said sternly. “What if it were one of the sailors standing there, a man with no business being at your cabin?”
“Why would a sailor be rapping at my door, Doctor, unless he had an important message?” Miss Farnham blinked up at him, those long, lush lashes shading her eyes. “Oh dear, do you have indigestion?”
“The pain I am experiencing at the moment has nothing to do with supper, Miss Farnham.”
Daphne may be gullible (okay, very gullible) and a little short on book smarts, but she knows what sex is and she likes it. A lot. This baffles Alexander a bit.
“I worry I am not normal, Dr. Murray. You know how women say they do not like that part of being married? I liked it. I liked it a lot! I liked it in the morning, I liked it late at night, I liked it in the afternoon, after luncheon.” She frowned. “I did not like it during luncheon, that was messy.”
Sweat broke out on Alexander’s brow as he tried hard not to think about Miss Farnham on the luncheon table, her skirts tossed up and honey drizzled across a belly as delectable as Devonshire’s finest cream.
What unfolds is a very sweet romance. I loved how Alexander falls for Daphne. He loves her for who she is. I think she might be too much for some – she is very dense at times and I know I’ve used this word more than once to describe her, but so, so gullible. At some points her behavior got a little old for me. But she is sweet and has a spunk to her all her own. While they are out at sea, they can forget that she isn’t a heiress and he just a mere surgeon. As Alexander emphasizes, back in London everything there is counted in pounds. Daphne at sea or on the deserted island craved for knowledge and new experiences. Daphne in London will be expected to act the perfect lady. I enjoy how it all plays out in the end.