A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain/Proper Romance
Genre: Historical Fiction/Soft Romance
Caroline Gray would rather be daring and intelligent than demure and insipid, which is why she is still unmatched after her third season in London. Her family’s threadbare finances leave Caroline with only one choice to secure her future: sail with the Fishing Fleet to India, where the son of a family friend is willing to consider an engagement to her.
Captain Thomas Scott loves the open sea as much as he despises the three-month, twice-yearly trip his ship makes as he ferries young English girls across the ocean. He can’t imagine what family would allow an innocent young woman to be matched up with the Englishmen of questionable reputation who work and live in India.
But when Miss Gray boards the HMS Persistence, all of Captain Scott’s plans are upended. Miss Gray’s fiery spirit can’t be contained, and he is shocked and secretly delighted at her boldness—and her beauty. But the rest of his passengers aren’t so kind.
Caroline finds herself an outcast among her peers, but Captain Scott becomes an unlikely ally. They share the same passions and interests, creating an undeniable attraction. But they both know any relationship between them is impossible. After all, Caroline has obligations to fulfill in India.
Caroline has until the end of the voyage to decide if she is going to marry a man she has never met or be brave enough to love a sea captain who just might break her heart.
I’ve come to depend on the Proper Romance imprint of Shadow Mountain to provide wholesome escapism/entertainment and I certainly got that with this book.
As a woman who does not realize the dire situation her family is in, Caroline has been spending her seasons being true to herself and waiting for a match that would understand her need for sharing intelligent conversation. Unfortunately, no man has asked for her hand and likely wont any time soon. I loved this start to the story and seeing the relation of wants versus needs.
Caroline’s family has always shown to be in agreement of her wishes, and even encouraging it, until life forces their hands. This moment changes everything for her and I felt for her character so much in that moment. So many waring thoughts an opinions on both sides and yet, no real good options.
As a character, Caroline is unique. She may be written with the trope of being beyond her time (as many leading ladies are in historical fiction) but she still stands out. There is a quiet grace and dignity to her that follows her throughout her journey to India and I appreciate that she does not fully lose herself along the way. There were some moments when she would have internal dialog about needing to be more like the other ladies but they felt like forced moments for the sake of internal conflict. I feel that there was already enough conflict that those brief moments were unnecessary.
Our leading man, Captain Thomas Scott, was also wonderful. He did not spend his time overly involved in Caroline’s life like some heroes are written. I appreciated that he fully understood his position and how it related to his crew and passengers. It was also refreshing that Wright wrote him so independent from our heroine as it allowed for a deeper respect of both characters.
The journey itself was also done very well. It can be extremely difficult to write sea travel but Wright was able to use the passage of time to her advantage without feeling like parts were being glossed over. I found the characters who were also aboard were great additions and the clash between some of the ladies could be considered juvenile but I think it was apt for the time and situation.
Another aspect that surprised me (without getting too spoilery) was the conflict on land. I loved this addition but found myself wanting more from it. We had some action teased more than seen and I would have just loved to have seen that flushed out more. It did lead to a fun ending though which still managed to give a realistic view of what Thomas has to think logically about as a Captain.
This story has some parts that left me wanting wanting more and some plot points that did not end up being fully utilized but overall it was a very enjoyable read. I can see myself doing a reread of this one at some point.