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Monday, 28 June 2021

Book review: Georgana's Secret by Arlem Hawks

Front cover of Georgana's Secret by Arlem Hawks over background of the sea

A gripping story of courage and kindness, and love on the high seas during the Napoleonic wars.

The scenario

Georgana's Secret is not your typical Regency romance. It is set on a man-of-war during the Napoleonic wars, and the sea-loving Lieutenant Dominic Peyton doesn’t even realise that the downtrodden cabin boy George who arouses his compassion is actually a girl. And not just any girl – the captain’s daughter, Georgana Woodall, who has come to sea in disguise to escape her grandmother’s cruelty.

What I really liked

When I posted on Instagram that I was reading Georgana’s Secret, several people told me I would love it. And they were right. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop.

I found Hawks’s style engaging, and quite a few lines worthy of highlighting (ah, the beauty of Kindle).

I really enjoyed the way the friendship between Peyton and Georgana took root and blossomed as a result of Peyton’s kindness.  


Monsieur Larrey

There was a nice historical reference to Napoleon’s surgeon, Dominque Jean Larrey (1766–1842). He was the surgeon in charge of author Fanny Burney’s mastectomy. I was not surprised to discover amongst his other achievements the introduction of a medical technique similar to that described by Hawks.

Regency names

I struggled a bit with the name Georgana at first. I’ve come across plenty of references to the name Georgiana in the Regency era, and a few to Georgina, but I’ve never come across this variation before. Although any name could have been used, I prefer Regency characters to be called names that we know were used. However, in this instance, it was a minor point as Georgana sounds possible and did not grate on me like using a name that belongs to a later century.

Naval history

Although I know lots about the Regency period, I am not familiar with naval terminology or what the Admiralty decreed at all. It sounded right, but I had no idea whether it was. However, a brief examination of the words I didn’t know suggests that Hawks has done her research and has used the terms correctly.

A glossary of naval terms for the ignorant, like me, who like to learn from what I am reading, would have been a welcome addition.

I was interested to look up details of the Admiralty ban on women on board ship, given that in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Admiral Croft’s wife makes no secret of the fact that she had accompanied her husband at sea. As Hawks suggests, it appears that though the rule existed, it was up to the officer in command of the vessel as to whether he enforced it.

Just a thought

My only comment about the story was that, perhaps, the conclusion was a little rushed (but maybe that was because I didn’t want it to end). I would have liked to see a little more heart searching by the characters before things were resolved.

Clean and sweet?

No religious content bar a few mild references to prayer.

There is some violence (Britain was at war, after all) but no gruesome detail.

Heat level is low - nothing more than kisses and low-level longing.

No swearing.

A well-written Regency era romantic adventure set at sea. As long as you’re prepared for battles rather than balls, it won’t disappoint you.

5 stars Highly recommended

 

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