The Charm School (Calhoun Chronicles #1)

The Charm School (Calhoun Chronicles #1) - Susan Wiggs I'm cautiously...CAUTIOUSLY...giving this book 2.5-3 stars, which is really bifurcated between 3.5-4 for the writing, atmosphere, setting, and plot and 2 for the romance.

3.5-4 = The author does a nice job of weaving magical descriptions of exotic Rio and earthy shipboard life. I learned a lot of nautical terminology after searching Google while reading. The characters were pretty well drawn, even though I didn't necessarily like them (if that makes sense?). Isadora's life in Boston was miserable, and her awkwardness and self-pity were hard to read. The transformation on board the ship is surprising and pretty gratifying to witness. It takes a while to get there, though, as they don't leave Boston until ~30% into the book. There is a subplot that involves slavery, too, which was interesting and revealing. (American historicals are not my usual reading fare.) Basically, in terms of substance, I think this book does an admirable job of setting the stage and drawing the reader into the story.

2 = That said, in terms of the romance, I wish there had been more interaction between Isadora and Ryan. We get a lot of glossing over prose through which weeks of shipboard life elapse. I also didn't agree with the way the physical aspect of this book played out. First, I was screaming on the inside (not in a good way) when they docked in Rio and Ryan did what he did, even after we learn of his recognizing an attraction of sorts to Isadora. He docks in Rio and avails himself of the services of a dockside whore. And then lets Isadora know. And this becomes a point of discussion a couple of times. *smacks forehead* I also disagree with the speed of the physical development of their first physical coupling intensely because I don't think they were thinking rationally at all. They go from a couple of kisses to skinny-dipping in the rainforest and making love while high on hemp cigars.

Overall, I'd say this was a decent book for the ability to transport the reader to the time period and the exotic locations and showing us the main character's transformation. However, as a romance, I feel it falls short.

P.S. Hero is a redhead, for anyone who cares about that stuff.