NOTE: I received early access to this book through netgalley.com in exchange for writing an impartial review. Thank you Shadow Mountain Publishers. Scheduled publication: March 2, 2021.
A CAPTAIN FOR CAROLINE GRAY IS an enjoyable historical romance that really deserves 3.5 stars, rather than the three I gave it on Goodreads. It’s the first book I’ve read by Julie Wright, an accomplished romance writer. This one moves quickly, offers an interesting glimpse into 1820s British culture, and requires no heavy lifting.
Caroline Gray has been “out” for multiple “seasons” in London, but despite her beauty, has so far failed to secure ANY proposals of marriage. She is outspoken, intelligent, honest, direct and curious — not characteristics that appeal to many well-situated, marriageable young men of her day. And now a deadline looms.
The heir to her late father’s estate is getting married. That means soon, Caroline and her mother will have to leave their home and find new accomodations. And, at the time, the only acceptable option for a widow or her unmarried daughter was a lifetime of imposing on one relative after another. The prospect of Caroline being a homeless spinster alarms all those around her.
So when another couple offers to underwrite a voyage to India, in the hopes that Caroline will marry their son, Captain Barritt, she can hardly say NO. Caroline winds up aboard a ship with a number of other single women — all of them looking to find husbands in the smaller subset of British society settled in India, where men outnumber women. A trip to India to secure a husband, according to the author’s note, was not uncommon during this period of British colonization.
In charge of the ship is Captain Thomas Scott, who provides well for his guests but makes it a policy to keep a distance between himself and passengers. But when Caroline and a number of other “ladies” are seated at his table for dinner, the Captain finds himself strangely attracted to Caroline’s outspokenness. And now you get the book title, right? Two captains, but only one Caroline.
Further drama is added by jealousy and gossip among the ladies, a mean-spirited ship’s cook, and a young apprentice at sea for the first time. Some genuine friendships develop among the passengers and even the Captain learns a few lessons from crew members. As readers, we also witness a few potential obstacles to budding romance — like keeping secrets, making assumptions, and speaking angry words. There’s even a suspenseful climax at the end.
If you love historical romance, be sure to pick this one up.
Read more about the author, Julie Wright, and her many books and many pseudonyms.