I am excited today to participate in a blog tour arranged by Shadow Mountain Publishing and Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose! Please see below for my review of Arlem Hawks' debut novel, as well as more information on the author.
I absolutely adored this book! The setting drew me in, written in a way that immersed me fully into the life of living on a ship, and the characters were realistic and flawed. For several days I stayed up late into the night reading, eager to read more about Georgana and Dominic. They were a couple I won't soon forget, especially with how their story began and how it ended. It was filled with drama and humor, grief and romance, and my emotions were on a roller coaster as I moved through the story. It was a sweet romance, without any steamy scenes of intimacy, but the quiet intimacy was so romantic that I didn't need anything else to feel the love between them. I think it may have even taken away from the story, as the focus would have shifted.
Georgana Woodall has been hiding for three years, after her mother died leaving her in the care of her abusive grandmother. After her father witnessed her being beaten, he stole her away to live on the ship he captains for the Royal Navy, However, women aren't allowed, so she has been forced to disguise herself as a boy, risking all to remain safe. It's been working well until Lieutenant Dominic Peyton is assigned to the ship. Dominic loves the sea and has been resisting his mother's attempts at marriage for him. The sea is no place for a wife, and he refuses to be landlocked the rest of his life. He befriends the young boy they call George, and soon they are in each other's company often, as companions, looking out for each other. Georgana knows it's a dangerous game she plays, but as she spends more time with Dominic, she begins to fall in love with him. If her truth were to come out, however, she would be removed from the ship, and she can't chance being put in danger again.
Georgana and Dominic were just an amazing couple. I was worried how the story would go at first, since Dominic thought she was a boy - how could he go from that viewpoint to thinking of her as a love interest? However, he had received word from his mother regarding his captain's missing daughter, and he is not a stupid man. I won't give away how the discovery came about, but just trust me that it was handled really well and will make your heart flutter with romantic sighs. Georgana was such a strong heroine, determined to live her life the way she wanted but also understanding that she had to listen to others at time to survive. She stuck up for herself, followed her heart and dreams, and I was so proud of her by the end of the book. Dominic was a brave man with a beautiful heart, and that's a hero we can all enjoy. He wasn't intimidated into backing down from his beliefs, and he ensured those under his care remained safe. His relationship with Georgana, even before he found out her true identity, was wonderful, because he was making sure a boy could not only defend himself but also feel confident in his abilities. He was just a really nice person, as was Georgana, and they fit together like two puzzles pieces.
This is the first book I have read by Arlem Hawks, but it certainly won't be the last! I really enjoyed this book from start to finish and highly recommend it to all lovers of historical romance.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**
About Arlem Hawks
Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn't writing, Arlem is baking her characters' favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.