The Captain’s Daughter (London Beginnings #1), by Jennifer Delamere
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I am of two minds regarding this book. On the one hand, there were many aspects of this book that were delightful, especially the winsome nature of its heroine, Rosalyn Bernay, and the way that she finds a place for herself within the world of Gilbert & Sullivan after having been raised as an orphan  in a Christian orphanage. That said, there were many parts of this book that were absolutely infuriating, including the way that the author glosses over the problem of abortion, presents Gilbert & Sullivan as Christians and not as fairly hypocritical people , and has an infuriating and entirely unnecessary love triangle where the author goes to considerable lengths to make the heroine mousy enough to accept the attention of two very different men and to unnecessarily and excessively complicate what would already be a difficult courtship between her and the appealing Nate Moran. Someone needs to tell writers of contemporary romances that love triangles are not necessary elements in order to keep up the intrigue of a relationship. Sometimes, as in this case, it merely makes some characters less appealing without making the novel as a whole more interesting.
Without giving away too many spoilers, this novel is filled with impossible amounts of divine providence. For example, we begin the novel with some looks at the heroine and her two younger sisters as they face life as orphans before we see the heroine on the run from a lascivious employer and trapped in London after being taken in by the madam of a whorehouse after a meet cute (!?) at the train station with the hero. By the time the two meet again at the Savoy Theater where Rosalyn finds a job as a dresser while Nate fills in for his injured brother, it is fairly obvious that the novel is going to play up divine providence in order to explain ridiculous coincidence. Then, after signposting the romance obviously enough for me to see it loud and clear, the author spends a great deal of time exploring the seedier side of the theater and building up Tony as a rival to Nate in fairly cliched fashion. The novel as a whole features a great deal of humor, a strong concern for justice and truth, and plenty of witty conversations.
Overall, my impression of this novel is somewhat mixed. It appears as if the author spent much of her energy building together a few of her favorite aspects of late Victorian English life, such as the orphanage the heroine grew up in as well as the world of Gilbert and Sullivan and the larger-than-life personalities that inhabited that stage. Having created that world and an appealing hero and heroine, the author made the aspects of divine providence too glaring and copied too many tropes of contemporary romance, and added too many subplots–like the heroine’s younger sister Julia and her desire to be a medical missionary to Africa and a failed quest to recover a lost watch that is never resolved. Ultimately this is a novel that can certainly be enjoyed, but it is also not special enough to rise above the general body of historical romances that wrestle with the world of faith and culture. It is the sort of book I was happy enough to read for a couple of hours for free, and the sort of book I would not be upset if someone gave me as a present, but not the sort of book I would go out of my way to read at all.
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