Frumpy, dumpy Isadora Peabody doesn't want much out of life, just to be
left in peace and quiet with her many academic tomes. That, and to
be the wife of Chad Easterbrook, the handsome son of another prominent
Boston family. But Isadora knows this dream will never come true,
for she lacks the beauty, grace, and poise her lovely sisters possess, and
she will never garner Chad's attention by hiding herself away behind
potted plants at every social occasion. Instead, she comforts
herself by reading travel books about far away exotic lands, and political
tracts speaking out against that hated transgression against
After a putting
in a particularly dreadful appearance at a party, Isadora is grateful to
make the acquaintance of one Lily Raines Calhoun, a lady most anxious to
find her son's ship down at the harbor. Some strange impulse prompts
Isadora to lead the elegant woman to the Silver Swan's berthing, but
her feeling of goodwill and accomplishment turns to shock when the pair of
ladies crash an orgy of Bacchanalian proportions being held on deck.
Fiery of both hair
and temper, Ryan Calhoun is a man with a mission.
A man who will stoop to any level to accomplish that mission, including
lie, cheat, and steal if that's what it takes to see justice done for his
former-slave-turned-business-partner. Ryan's taken on sailing for Abel
Easterbrook under false pretenses, and finds himself on a vessel bound for Rio minus a
crewman fluent in Portuguese. When his employer makes an unfortunate visit to the ship
their first night in port, Ryan is certain he will lose his job, with
his mother and some strange dowd in her company at hand to witness his
But to his surprise, his
employment is secure, and he finds himself taking the conniving frump on as a hand
on his crew after she finagles the translating job from Easterbrook!
The last thing Ryan wants is to be saddled with this
blue-stocking female, but he needs a translator and she is more than
The timid spinster and
reckless captain can't help but be thrown together during the long months
at sea. And while Ryan
begins the voyage by going out of his way to make poor Isadora miserable,
her keen wit and willingness to pitch in with the chores soon win the
handsome captain over, and he discovers that they have much more in common
than he could have ever dreamed.
Life at sea was simple enough when
a disheveled dowd, but as she comes out of her shell Ryan sees her for the beauty
that she truly is, and is soon faced with the dilemma of how to avoid the only
attractive young woman on board a very small ship. A woman
who is rapidly
falling in love with him!
What worked for me:
It's always nice to see a well-educated woman in a story, and I had the utmost
respect for Isadora's astounding level of education, especially when it
came to math and foreign languages, two areas I never really excelled at
I thought it was
endearing how our hero, gorgeous though he was, had no fashion sense and
couldn't refrain from wearing clashing, loud-colored clothes, an offense
made all the worse when paired with his long red locks.
Size-wise Isadora was extremely tall, plump, and unstylish at the beginning
of the novel. However, trading in a life of books for a life spent climbing
a ship's rigging caused her to tone up and lose a little weight. I
thought that it was rather realistic, though, that Isadora did not shed
her milk-toast personality as soon as she dropped a few pounds. It took
her a lot longer to learn to how to have confidence in herself when faced with
members of Society.
What didn't work for me:
When they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, they are referring
to the title as well. A name like "The Charm School" had me thinking that this
would be a novel set in Regency London, not on the high seas of the
Atlantic during Victorian times.
began the story as something of a ninny. Thank heavens her journey
gave her some strength of character!
As I've mentioned
before, I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes the physical side of
romance. The fact that the hero bedded women other than the heroine
in this story bothered me somewhat.
Some scenes in the
book went beyond the bounds of plausibility, enough so that it pulled me
out of the story.
"The Charm School" is a solid read for fans of American Historicals or
novels with a "caterpillar-to-butterfly" theme.
Warning: There is some coarse
language, sexy scenes, and recreational drug use in this
If you liked "The Charm
School" you might also enjoy
Bride", "The Last Days
of a Rake", "Unmarriageable", "The Bride
and the Beast", "The
You", "Enchanting Pleasures",
"A Country Christmas",
Hero's Best Friend", or
"No Ordinary Princess".
Have you read
this book and have a comment to
make on it? Join a discussion about the book at the Dangerous Curves
or submit a review
to this website.