The Bastard

The Bastard - Brenda Novak As members of the aristocracy, Jeannette Boucher and her family were forced to flee France because of the Revolution. A distant English cousin found a suitable husband for Jeannette and the story opens in the middle of her vows to Baron St. Ives, a man in his late 50s to Jeannette’s 18. By marrying him, she will be able to provide for her parents and young brother, Henri, as they work to create a life for themselves in England. On her wedding night, Jeannette discovers St. Ives unique plan for her to produce an heir so she flees. She disguises herself to look like a young boy and eventually makes her way onto the Tempest, a royal naval warship. The 2nd Lieutenant Crawford Treynor takes pity on her, believing her to be a young lad who reminds him of his traumatic youth, and makes a point of looking out for her behalf. He is the son of Lady Bedford, who has not acknowledged him publicly as he was a product of her affair with another man who she’s never identified. He is considered a “bastard”, even though he’s become an accomplished officer.Jeannette’s experiences while on the ship are pretty harrowing and aren’t glamorized in the least. Treynor proves himself to be an astute naval officer and cleverly works to protect Jeannette from the 1st Lieutenant Cunnington, who has an axe to grind with him. When Treynor discovers Jeannette’s ruse, he continues that protection and their attraction is unmistakable. While she often makes decisions that have you wanting to throttle her, Jeannette still is an interesting character and one you’ll want to win. Treynor is especially intriguing as he not only has to look out for Jeannette but serve in command at the same time. He is extremely attractive, quick-witted and a true gentleman, looking out for Jeannette’s best interest throughout, even when it didn’t appear she deserved it. Life on the Tempest was portrayed very realistically and it was easy to visualize due to the extraordinary writing. I found myself caught up in the story, finding it difficult to put down. The battle scenes were mesmerizing, reminding you of the primitive resources during that era. I’m not an historian and cannot evaluate whether this story is accurate in that sense but it certainly seemed authentic.My only criticism is that the romance between Jeannette and Treynor seemed to wrap up hurriedly. I believe a short epilogue might have made this ending more complete to that end. It should also be noted that this a PG rated romance for the most part, which is pretty consistent with the values of the characters. Otherwise, this is a very interesting story with layered, interesting characters who stayed with me after the book’s end. I highly recommend it and wish there was another to follow. It’s also my first experience with this author and I plan to read more of her titles. I’m rating this story 4 stars.(I received an ARC from NetGalley)