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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Passage to November by Phyllis DeMarco

Passage to November by Phyllis DeMarco
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (332 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Amaryllis

Clara Grace cannot recall the traumatic events that brought her to this desolate Canadian beach. As debris washes ashore, memories flash through her mind: a terrible storm…men swept to their deaths…the deep, menacing darkness of the lunatic sea. Cold and alone, she only knows she must wait for the man who promised never to leave her.

For Captain William McTavish, life alone was simple, so he thought, until Clara Grace came to work aboard his ship. Something in her eyes, something in the music from her old violin, broke through his hardened heart...he’d found his kindred spirit.

Torn from each other by the white hurricane that has devastated the Great Lakes, will they find their hard-won love can somehow lead them home?

Passage to November is a special kind of vintage romance because of the unique setting on a ship that sails the Great Lakes. Clara Grace is a well-rounded character. A strong-minded young woman with determined goals. But she also has an inner frail vulnerability that makes her even more interesting. Adjusting to her new job as cook on a ship is not easy, especially since she hates to cook. But she keeps on trying anyway, even in the face of McTavish’s disapproval and scorn. This makes her even more admirable and engenders much sympathy for her. Captain William McTavish is tough as nails and all alpha male but Clara gets under his skin and awakens his soft side.

There is a quite a bit of passive narrative in this story where distance comes in between the reader and the character’s moment-to-moment experience. The prose tends to be wordy. It all made for slow reading in several spots. That said, these faults are somewhat offset by the depth of emotion in the story and the real passion one can feel for the subject matter.

The dialogue and the mindset and motivations of the characters are believable for the time. I did not catch any anachronisms. This story has a strong historical feel and a real sense of adventure. The characters are well drawn and consistent in their actions and motivations. I could believe these were men who fought the elements on a daily basis in their shipboard lives yet nothing was stereotypical.

This story has a strong beating heart that is somewhat dulled by problems of technique but not totally. There is a lot of emotion and sexual tension going on with a strong minded, softhearted heroine and a tough, alpha male with a heart of gold. The sense of history is strong. For those seeking a different setting for a historical romance and a return to sweet romance that is not cloying, Passage to November could very well be the refreshing change-of-pace you are looking for.

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