Illegitimate Polly Brandon has never felt like more than an ugly duckling. So she's amazed when Hugh Philippe Junot pays her such close attention as they sail for Portugal.
Under ordinary circumstances she knows this
distinguished lieutenant colonel of marines would never have looked at
her, but having his protection for the journey is comforting--and
something more that she's afraid to give a name to. Should she trust
what she sees in Hugh's eyes--has she turned from an ugly duckling into a
beautiful, desirable swan?
Comment: This is the third book by the author I've read. The previous ones I read were wonderful and I'm so glad I decided to try her stories because her writing is, indeed, special.
This third book is also the last in the Channel Fleet trilogy.
This is the story of Polly and Hugh. Polly is the younger sister to the protagonists of the previous books, Marrying the Captain and The Surgeon's Lady. Polly decides to help her sister Laura at Oporto, where she and her husband have a hospital sort of. During the trip, Polly finds out she isn't very keen on the sea and Hugh helps her, even when she's embarrassed an officer is changing her sweat clothes. The time allows them to know each other better and after their arrival at Portugal and the challenges they face, they still look at each other and their feelings are what aves them in the end...
Once again, I really enjoyed a story by this author. I thin she has a unique voice, and I like th way she tells her stories and how we get involved in that era. I also think that, despite her use of information and historical context, the story didn't feel too serious or strict, it was romantic and had enough elements to make this a good fictional entertainment.
I liked the historical context. The action takes place mostly in Portugal, during the Napoleonic war. I live in Portugal and I've studied this briefly during History classes...of course, real history doesn't get to be perceived as deeply into all the aspects of a war. And here we can see a little bit more detail in a centered in that place, as it happens with this book. I don't live in the north, where the action happens, I live closer to Lisbon than Oporto, but I know the challenges, the difficulties, the issues that even today are part of my country's History. To be honest, in school we mostly discuss the fact Napoleon was defeated here and not exactly the hows of it...but in this story we see that fiction, as with real life, can't depend solely on the big things, what about the people left behind, the lives of so many people who had to bear losses and terrible fates? In this book I couldn't help being sad things like the ones described happened and are today happening all over the world without us knowing I mean the way some people take the dignity of others. We are animals for sure...but this is another issue altogether, and not the point here.
I liked how true and how detailed things were because through loss and fear, the protagonists found love and feelings that united them in a way many people wouldn't know what it's like. Their romance was amazing and the age difference didn't strike me as such an important thing. They matched and I enjoyed seeing them together. Their social status wasn't the same either but I think they went past that quite well.
The plot took a path I wasn't expecting but it was good to see the two protagonists brave their choices and to still maintain their humility and soul, in a way.
The end was what one hopes for and there's nothing better than hope and the certainty of a happy ending. I liked the personal side of this story a lot too.
Overall, a sometimes sad read but full of hope and wonderful scenes, romantic and evoking. I recommend it to historical lovers.