Home is the Sailor – Lee Rowan (Cheyenne Publishing)

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If I had read the first three books
in Rowan’s Royal Navy series, I suspect my thoughts on Home is the Sailor—the fourth in the series—would, of course, be more
studied, more critical. But I didn’t. So bear with me.

Home is the Sailor occurs during a short-lived period of peace between
Bonaparte’s French Republic and Great Britain, codified by the Treaty of Amiens
signed in 1802. Against this historical setting, Commander William
“Will” Marshall and his lover, Lieutenant David “Davy”
Archer, return from what is described as a “…supposedly routine mission
to pick up an agent of His Majesty’s secret service from the coast of
Spain.” The primary tension of the storytelling arises quickly when
Marshall’s ship is attacked, and Davy emerges from the relative safety
belowdecks to assist with the defense of their lightly armed vessel, the
Mermaid. Seems that in a prior book of this series, Davy was
gravely injured during another attack at sea—this after he and Will had become
lovers—and, thereafter, Will’s passion for command, for his love of the sea and
confronting the dangers upon it, paled to his fervor to protect his lover,
Davy, from any further harm. The emotional conflict: How can Will continue to
serve His Majesty, when his ability to command is compromised by the presence
of Davy upon the same ship? Protecting Davy becomes tantamount to Will’s
ability to command. Davy understands Will’s dilemma, and considers the
necessity to resign his commission, if only for the sake of his lover, Will.

Once returned to safe harbor in
England, Will and Davy report to their superior, Sir Percy—a kind of cloak
and dagger
character who seems to have been
at the center of some clandestine operations against “Boney” (Bonaparte),
to which Will and Davy were a party—who advises the men it would be in their
best interests to hide out for a while as, apparently, they have a price on
their heads. So it is off to the Archer estate, Davy’s home—Grenbrook Manor in
Devon—where the lovers will tarry for a time, and await their fate.

Davy, the third and youngest son of
a quite tyrannical father, an Earl, arrives at Grenbrook Manor with Will, only
to find that his oldest brother, the heir to the estate and title, has died,
supposedly in a hunting accident. Their arrival also sees the house filled with
sisters and female cousins, a bed-ridden, bereaved mother, and the comings and
goings of the second oldest brother—now, with the death of the eldest, the heir
apparent—who is, from his first introduction, an unsavory, arrogant presence
and surely (the reader will immediately presume) up to no good on several
levels.

Rowan shows us the structured
protocols of life within an English estate, an earldom, at this particular time
in history. The women of the household are, of course, subordinated to a status
of, well, just being there until they
can be married off.  The
paternalism of the times oozes from the pages. Rowan’s handling of this perhaps
ancillary component of her storytelling was, for me, quite fascinating,
informative.

To reveal more of Rowan’s
storytelling as Will and Davy pass their days at Grenbrook Manor would, I fear,
provide more of the plot than should be shared in this review. I believe it is
enough to tell you that there is mystery, adventure, guile, sleuthing and, oh,
yes, there is some gently told, not explicit meeting of the flesh to be
savored. You will find a little surprise at the end, also. No, I will not tell
you if Will and Davy come to terms with the essential tension that is revealed
in the first pages of the book. Readers of this genre will, however, be
satisfied with the outcome.

There are few ruffles and
flourishes in Rowan’s writing. There are no literary meanderings. She writes
with a beautiful simplicity of style that enables the storytelling to flow as
smoothly as a soft breeze against a foremast.

I don’t often read this
genre—historical romance. I’m glad I did. It was refreshing to just settle in,
sip a little grog, and let Rowan take me on this journey; a lovely journey that
is well worth the read.  

Reviewed by George Seaton                   

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