Rating: 2.75 stars
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Michel’s life has never been his own. Despite the fact his father has little use for him, Michel, as a third son, still must do as the Marquis demands. When a fight results in the exile of his beloved elder brother, Alain, Michel is determined to make his own destiny. Though it takes several years, he is finally able to escape his father’s clutches and sails to Jamaica to find his brother. But when pirates capture Michel’s ship, he is robbed of his freedom once again.
Galen, quartermaster to the Fair Wind, isn’t sure why he claims the fierce little Frenchman as part of his prize. Certainly the young man is more trouble than he is worth, but Galen finds himself irresistibly drawn to Michel. As Michel slowly adapts to life aboard a pirate ship, Galen struggles to keep him safe and to deny his own desires. But when passion blossoms between them, Galen and Michel find that a happily ever after may be just beyond their reach.
The Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son is, at its core, a pirate-themed erotic romp on the high seas. There isn’t much of a plot, which was unfortunate because the book certainly started off strong. The first quarter of the novel does a great job of setting the scene and introducing both the main characters and the extended cast. But from that point on, The Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son gets bogged down in well written, yet repetitive sexual encounters between Michel and Galen. The end result is a book that had real potential, but that is ultimately left without much of a story. I credit the author with having a bibliography and making the attempt to provide historical context for the story. And while some of the history is decidedly suspect, the author has done an excellent job of creating historical atmosphere, something much of historical fiction lacks. Unfortunately it was rather hard to relate to the characters, for several different reasons.
Michel starts off as bratty, brave, and a little entitled. For most of the first half of the Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son, he is ill so we don’t get to know him well. He isn’t exactly relegated to a place off page, but he isn’t given much attention either. Once he is recovered, his dramatic response to Galen is rather unbelievable. He seems to fall in love with the man almost over night and their relationship never feels particularly realistic. Because Michel is so thoroughly subjugated to Galen, he never develops into a fully developed character. Galen seems a tad more well-rounded, but again neither he nor Michel work particularly well together and their relationship doesn’t convince me that they should. Like the overall story, Michel and Galen had a lot of potential, but their romance limps rather than soars.
So many of aspects of The Quartermaster and the Marquis’s Son have a solid foundation, but never evolve into anything. For example, when we meet Galen we are given insight into the torture and shame he suffered at the hands of a previous captor. When Galen finally seizes this enemy, the whole exchange becomes anti-climatic. What should have been a major story arc is wrapped up with such haphazard efficiency as to be altogether unfulfilling. This sort of plot awkwardness dogs the novel nearly from the start and, while technically well written, the storyline never matures the way it should.
The cast of extended characters is limited in their development, but we do get a wider appreciation for the crew of the Fair Wind. The author does a good job of conveying the close quarter nature of life aboard ship and this added to the overall historical flavor of the book. There is a lot of sex in the Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son and this often involves Galen and another pirate or other pairings on the ship. I’m not sure these were particularly necessary, but they do feed into the book’s overall eroticism. One of more irksome issues I had was that every pirate aboard the Fair Wind, save the bad guys, was handsome or gorgeous. This felt a bit ridiculous and I kept envisioning this ship filled with Fabios promoting I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and I doubt this is what the author was aiming for.
I think it would be safe to compare the Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son to an old fashioned Harlequin novel. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I adore Harlequin), but this book could have been so much more. The plot is limited and the characters fall short of expectation most of the time. This is the first in a series and I’m not sure if the sequel will follow Galen and Michel or one of the other pirates. Either way I’m willing to give it a chance, but I hope the author can take some of this book’s unused potential and turn it into something substantial.