Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Cross Dressing: A Review of Sea Change by Darlene Marshall

When Sea Changed was announced as the October book club pick over at SBTB, I was really excited. I've never read anything by Darlene Marshall before, so I didn't know what to expect style wise, but I saw that it was about privateers during the War of 1812 and featured an amateur surgeon as it's heroine. I really love adventure filled historical romance, and I love nautical stories, and I have a gross fascination with medicine: In short, this all adds up to a winning story for me.

Charlotte Alcott has lived a large part of her life disguised as a boy, going by the name of Charley and acting as an apprentice to her father, who is a doctor. When her father dies, Charley wants nothing more than to continue practicing medicine. In her disguise, she books passage on a British ship  to Jamaica in exchange for acting as the ship's surgeon. She hopes to apprentice herself to her uncle, who is also a doctor. But the ship is attacked by American privateers, who capture Charley and demand that she treat their gravely injured first mate. The captain, David Fletcher, is all too grateful to the young surgeon for saving his brother and treating his men--too grateful to see past the disguise. But as Charley and David form a friendship, David worries that Charley may be developing an attraction to him--and that the feeling may be mutual.

Positive Comments:

The characters are extremely likable. Charley is smart and competent. Her actions struck me as incredibly brave. Marshall does a good job in examining the identity issues that Charley faces, both from an emotional and professional standpoint. This makes Charley a character that a modern woman can easily sympathize with and relate to.

David is, perhaps, not as interesting. He's dashing, patriotic, and makes an excellent leader. His struggle with his attraction to Charley (especially before he discovers her full identity) is extremely amusing. Otherwise he's very much a typical romance hero. Given that our focus is primarily on the heroine, I thought David's lack of interesting development was forgivable.

The plot has a good balance of internal and external conflict. There is just enough action to keep things suspenseful. The medical details added intrigue for me. There's also plenty of humor, both in the situations and in the dialogue. Overall the story is emotional enough to draw you in, but does not get caught up in angst.

Critical Comments

The only thing I can really say is that I felt the ending wrapped up a bit too neatly. All of the conflicts are wrapped up and swept away with great ease, rather abruptly clearing a path for David and Charley to be together. However, this is such a frequent occurrence in romance that I can't really count it as a serious flaw.

In sum, I found this book to be extremely enjoyable. It's a fun adventure story for those who enjoy historical romance. 4.5 stars.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to read and review my novel. I really appreciate it!

  2. I haven't read a historical romance for awhile now - will keep this one in mind! I admit, I've always had a fondness for the girl-in-disguise storyline...not sure why, but it's a dearly loved favorite.

  3. I'll have to check this one out!

  4. This sound really different. I too love ANY kind of romance with lots of adventure in them. From your review this kind of makes me think of Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. I actually might check this out. I'm so in the mood for something with adventure in it! :)

    ♥ Sarah @ I'm Loving Books

  5. Darlene--You're welcome! Always happy to give a good review when one is deserved.

    BJ--I'm a sucker for the girl who pretends to be a boy to get a job done. Mulan was one of my favorite childhood movies for that exact reason.

    Sarah--There are some small paralells to Voyager. Obviously, Voyager is grander and more epic in scale--being part of such a vast series and 870 pages long. This book is lighter than that in all ways, but is still very enjoyable.


Thoughtful comments are appreciated! I always respond to them, and I usually return the favor! Happy reading!

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