MISS WHITTIER MAKES A LIST – Carla Kelly
Camel Press – http://camelpress.com
Miss Hannah Whitney is the youngest child—and only daughter—of a Quaker family of Nantucket, Massachusetts. She's on her way to Charleston, South Carolina, where her brother Hosea has opened a branch of the family mercantile. She plans to help her sister-in-law when the new baby comes. Hannah's on board a ship out of Boston that is stopped and boarded by men from a British frigate, the HMS Dissuade . The captain impresses British deserters, as well as two Americans, to fill the empty slots in his crew caused by an attack by a French war ship. The captain doesn't sail away, however, until he gets a sharp dressing down from an angry Hannah. Hiding his amusement, he warns the Americans to watch out for the French, and then sails away, allowing the American vessel to continue on. But the Yankees are not out of danger yet. Their ship is later attacked and sunk by the French, who didn't bother to identify their target as American neutrals in their war with the British. All are lost but Hannah, who survives thanks in part to her father for teaching her to swim, and a grate from the ship for her to float upon. She is alone in the sea. Some time later, a thirsty and badly sunburned Hannah comes around to face the stern captain of the Dissuade . It appears she has been rescued from the sea and is on her way to England.
Captain Sir Daniel Spark runs a tight ship with a disciplined crew. He began his naval career at ten years and worked his way up. He is hard but fair; perhaps along the way he's forgotten how to smile. Hannah is not a meek and mild Quaker lass, and even before she recovers from her ordeal, she's annoying the captain. Anything can happen in the weeks that follow their planned voyage to England. Time will see Hannah peeling potatoes and climbing the rigging to the look out, and that's the easy part.
Two people could hardly be more different—the captain has none of the desirable traits in a husband that are on the list Hannah made at the start of her voyage. And yet this innocent maiden and the man of war begin to see the good in each other. Not that anything would ever come of that.
I wish I had the words to really give the flavor of this remarkable novel. I can start by saying that I had a smile on my face almost through the whole of it. Hannah is the most delightful creature who never hesitates to speak her mind. The captain is stern and reserved, and while no one could honestly call him a softy beneath it all, we begin to see the whole man. Still, there appears to be no future ahead for the two, even after they survive more dangers. Their personalities and lives, their nationalities and cultures are too far apart.
Even with a suspenseful plot, MISS WHITTIER MAKES A LIST is a fun book. Many minor characters add entertainment and sympathy to the whole. I highly recommend this lovely tale to you.
Carla Kelly has always been a favorite Regency author, and plans are in the works to bring out more of her out of print Regencies and historicals in both print and digital formats. Lucky us!