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Across a Moonlit Sea (1994)

by Marsha Canham

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2554105,616 (3.56)6
Rescuing a man whose ship had been floundering at sea, Isabel Spense takes aboard ruthless privateer Simon Dante, who promptly seizes command of Isabel's ship and sets out to win the lovely maiden's heart and mind.
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Across a Moonlit Sea by Marsha Canham is a 2011 publication- originally published in 1996.

Beau Spence is a woman ahead of her time!

Set in the Elizabethan era, this swashbuckling adventure has it all. Intrigue, suspense, pirates, action, adventure and steamy hot romance on the high seas!

I bought this book, according to Amazon, back in 2012. Yes, it has been gathering ‘virtual’ dust on my Kindle since then, but the main reason I bought the book back then was so that I’d have a digital copy of this older title as many books written in this time period are out of print or hard to find. It was not my intent to read it immediately, but to save it for a time when I found myself in the mood to revisit historical fiction/romance books I enjoyed back in the day.

Recently, I’ve been doing a little side project concerning older books that need to be digitized. This brought up many historical romance novels that are unavailable in e-book format- but my research also reminded me of how much I used to love those old books. So, I found myself craving a good pirate adventure- a type of HR that nobody ever writes anymore- so finally, after a decade of waiting- here we are.

Once I settled in, adjusting to writing style after many years removed from this type of novel, it all started to come back to me and it felt SO good. These older HR novels had a great deal of Historical Fiction added in, complementing the romantic elements, plus it feels a lot more authentic.

Beau is ‘one of the guys’ and even has her own invention, in a very, very, very male dominated environment. She’s not soft or biddable or aristocratic – at all- she’s outspoken and tough and gives as good as she gets. I loved her!

The story, though, of course, is certainly a romance, but the Historical Fiction elements are more dominant- with gritty battles and plenty of intrigue. This is not a romance filled with overblown misunderstandings or filled with pretty words. The banter is off the charts, and often amusing- and the chemistry between Beau and Simon Dante remains in the physical realm for most of the book, with the future uncertain, but I would have liked more of an emotional connection. There are several very explicit sex scenes, and I admit I had forgotten how steamy these books were.

This is also the first book in a trilogy-and there will be some continuation. The series won a readers’ choice award, and I see why. It’s too bad that historical romance authors today are too scared to write books like this one. Regencies are fun, for sure, and I do love the older, pure light-hearted Regencies- but I do like to read about other time periods, too. Balance and variety is a good thing people!

While older historical romances have a bad reputation sometimes, this one is pretty tame. There are some mild un-pc attitudes, but nothing you can’t look past. The prose, common for the time in which the book was written, was just a bit flowery, but nothing all that bad.

Overall, this is a fun swashbuckling pirate adventure written in a style and the style we don't get to experience anymore. Thankfully, some of the authors who were prolific writers back in the day digitized their books- so at least there are a few I can still enjoy from time to time.

For those who have KU subscription, the entire trilogy is included- so maybe, instead of spending my summer at the beach, I'll spend it on the high seas!!

*Note: Any author who has not digitized their work, please consider doing so. You may not make tons of money from them- but you aren't making ANY money from eBay, or Half Priced Books, or garage sales either. But the most important thing is that your work will be preserved!! ( )
  gpangel | May 30, 2023 |
This book was awesome! Lots of action, romance, and hot sex. Isabeau "Beau" is no simpering little lady. She holds her own very well throughout the whole book. Lots of pirates, treasure, and multiple sea battles. There was never a dull moment and my attention was avidly kept the whole time.
After being betrayed Captain Simon Dante and his surviving crew are pulled off their sinking ship by Captain Jonas Spence who captains a merchant ship. Soon the merchant ship is off pirating Spanish ships for more gold than they could imagine. Captain Spence's daughter Beau is a part of the crew and a crucial part at that. She and Dante clash immediately but passionate fighting soon turns into passionate love. Wonderful story! I'm excited to read the next book. :) ( )
  SweetLiar | May 5, 2016 |
The beginning lacked the "draw-in" effect that I needed. I don't see much chemistry between anyone and I'm pretty much skimming the book just to find out if the ending will be any better than the beginning. All in all, I think I wasted a perfectly good Saturday night on this book. ( )
  caslater83 | Jul 24, 2015 |
I enjoyed reading this book, I really did, but I just can't give it more than 3 stars. The storyline is excellent, the characters are amazingly real, and the writing is pretty good. But I had a number of issues with Mrs. Canham's book that prevent me from giving it a higher rating.

The book follows the story of Isabeau Spence, daughter of the captain of a merchant ship. After coming across the wreckage of another ship, Isabeau, her father, and a number of crew members board the sinking vessel to search for survivors.Who they find is none other than the notorious "Pirate Wolf," Simon Dante and a handful of remaining crew. Seeking revenge for his beloved Virago, slowly sinking beneath the waves, Dante threatens Beau's life if her father, Capitan Spence, does not agree to load Dante's cannons onto his ship.

Capitan Spence grudgingly obliges to his request and loads the cannons. A short time later, Spence's ship, with a now larger crew, crosses paths with a Spanish Galleon and, upon the insistence of Simon Dante, they attack. Miraculously they win the battle and collect their spoils.

Now returning home, the small merchant ship runs into an entire fleet of ships, headed by the Elizabeth Bonadventure and her captain, Sir Francis Drake. Learning that Drake and his fleet have been unleashed to wreck havoc along the Spanish Main, and that the target of Dante's rage is among them, Dante and his crew leave the Egret to join Drake.

You'll have to read it to find out what happens afterward and for the details of Beau and Simon's romance. Suffice to say it's worth reading.

Beau and Simon are the quintessential romance couple-- the perfect ideal of most women's fantasy relationship. There is really nothing I could find wrong with either character. And Canham did a fine job of handling the romance between them. There were certainly some small phrases that made me chuckle more than arouse me, for the most part the sex scenes--and even the just kissing scenes-- were well written.


So what's left? Why did I only give it 3 stars when I clearly enjoyed it? For one, the prologue and the epilogue. Both of them almost ruin the story. Sure, the prologue tells you why Dante's ship sank, but it seems more like the purpose of the prologue was simply to amaze the reader at Canham's knowledge of sailing terminology. As for the epilogue, the first half of it reminded me of my 7th grade history textbook. Not joking. Canham uses half of the epilogue to talk about Sir Francis Drake's attack on Cadiz--information available in any history book or google search on the subject. The latter half of the epilogue isn't terrible, it describes Beau and Simon's relationship after leaving the Egret.

Another issue I had with the story was the pacing. I realize that the novel is a romance, first and foremost, but it is also about pirates. Writing about pirates all but requires action, adventure, and a fairly quick paced storyline. A book of this length is usually about a half day's read for me, but this took a full day, mostly because of some sections where I felt like I was trudging through four foot deep snow to read it.

There were numerous editorial issues... though they could have been due to the fact that I was reading the ebook version. Ebooks often have quirks about them that do not exist in a tangible copy of the book. There were a few, however, that I think were not ebook issues; such as one instance where Canham wrote the same phrase three times before continuing the sentence. Instead of emphasizing the situation, as I think Canham intended to do, the repetition just seemed awkward. I'm surprised that her editor did not catch it and remove it.

As a whole, the book is great and I will probably revisit it again, after all, this was my second time reading it anyway. ( )
  thefaereview | Mar 31, 2014 |
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Rescuing a man whose ship had been floundering at sea, Isabel Spense takes aboard ruthless privateer Simon Dante, who promptly seizes command of Isabel's ship and sets out to win the lovely maiden's heart and mind.

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