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Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: Swept To Sea

Swept to Sea by Heather Manning,

Lady Eden Trenton never wanted to leave her privileged existence in London—until her father invites a dangerous suitor into her life. Left with few options, Eden devises the best reprieve she can: escape. Chasing freedom, she stows away aboard a pirate ship, praying she will gain her independence in the colonies before she is discovered by the nefarious crew.
Captain Caspian Archer has spent the last five years hardening his heart and searching to exact revenge for the event that tore his life to shreds. When he catches word that his enemy is residing in Jamaica, Caspian steers his ship toward the colonies in all haste. His plans soon change, however, when he discovers the young beauty hiding in his ship’s hold.
Cut from the only lives they have known, Caspian and Eden are pulled together as each pursues a fresh hope upon the sea. 

I was the wrong reader for this book.  I requested a free copy for to review on here, mainly because ever single review on Amazon was five-star, talking about how amazing and witty and gorgeous this book was.  I went into it with high expectations, and came out nearly disgusted and certainly let down.  One of the reasons for that, I believe, was that even though I can be a gushy fangirl, I'm used to romance being a subplot (big or small), not the main thing, and if it does have a big focus (Jane Austen, anyone? - by the way, it's her birthday today and I totally forgot *blushes*), I want a well-written book with an intriguing plot and interesting characters.  This book had none of that.  The beginning was interesting, the end was...nice, I guess, but in between there was pretty much nothing more than ridiculous sea battles and a dysfunctional relationship between the 'hero' (he doesn't really deserve the name) and the 'heroine' (ditto).  More on that in a bit.

The characters were insipid (what an Austenish word!) and since I'm someone who can forgive a slow plot or mediocre writing as long as the characters are good (well, they have to be really good to combat bad plot/writing, but, anyway...), this was a major bad point against me liking Swept To Sea.  If the heroine wasn't chewing her plump bottom lip, she was flinging her umber curls around her head (seriously, the authoress had to mention the odd color of her curls all. the. time.), or fainting.  Or cowering from the hero, afraid that he'd hit her (even though he very emphatically said he wouldn't even think of it).  Or giggling about the hero's son's 'cute' antics (he was one of those obnoxious, very badly written children in novels).  And if the hero wasn't going off into fits of anger/jealousy (honestly, he did that over the most petty of things), he was thinking about how brave/beautiful the heroine was (beautiful she may be, but brave she most certainly is not - she fainted about six times in the course of the novel).  

The minor characters were cardboard cutouts, prone to interacting unbelievably with the opposite gender (with perhaps the exception of First Mate, and later Captain, Gage Thompson - I quite liked him, actually) and all in all not making any impression on me.  There's a merchant captain who's helping Eden's friends find her, and he takes to insulting one of the friends whenever he can, and yet they end up falling in love.  Do I sense a P&P knock-off?  The way the authoress switched between hero/heroine/heroine's friend #1/heroine's friend #2/merchant ship captain/first mate/villain's point of views was confusing to say the least.  Especially Caspian and Eden's POVs because it was like seeing two different versions of the characters every time the point of view switched.  I know some authors who can skillfully handle several different points of view, but Heather Manning is definitely not one of them.

The author bio says that Heather reads every inspirational romance she can get her hands on, and, frankly, I think she took all her ideas for how a relationship should work (or not work) from cliched Christian romance novels.  She's only sixteen, so I don't think she would have much experience with things like that.  It really shows, at times.  Like I mentioned before, Eden keeps thinking Caspian will hit her every time she says something slightly out of turn.  One reviewer said that there was a Pride and Prejudice quality to the bantering.  What bantering?  Eden was too wimpy to say anything.  Oh, and there was this one bit where Caspian thinks that maybe it was a good thing that his wife died (the wife who he's been trying to avenge for five years), because if she'd survived, he'd never have met Eden and fallen in love with her.  And I was sitting there, with my mouth hanging open.  WHATWHATWHAT?

Ugh.  I didn't mean to be so harsh with this review, but it's honestly the way I feel.

*le sigh*

Now I'll sit back and wait for everyone to blast me, since it seems everyone else adores this book.



Miss Jane Bennet said...

First of all, I forgot that it was JA's birthday too and didn't do ANYTHING to celebrate it. *facepalm* So you're in good company. ;)
Now...okay, I actually want to read this book, because it sounds so bad it might be fun to make fun of. :P But I looked up reviews on Amazon, and every single one was five stars...weird. If it's ever free on Kindle, I'm rather curious as to what everyone sees (or doesn't ;P) in it.
Your theory sounds reasonable; I know I'm not very good at writing romance yet, so I keep it as a minor subplot (if I include it at all). Honestly, it just sounds like she attempted too many writing techniques/subjects that she wasn't ready for.
If I ever read it, I'll let you know what I think! And btw, great job stating your opinions without being offensive. :)

Anne-girl said...

He thought it was GOOD that his wife DIED? Yes God works all things together for good but that's just wrong. Ugg! I also tend to not like books where the romance is the main plot. It makes for too much stupid most of the time. While a good side plot romance is often just enough to make you squeal whenever the characters are together.

Bobbie said...

Your review of this novel sounds quite petty and immature. Especially since you failed to point out anything good within the pages of this novel, and insulted the authoress. I'm inclined to believe that this review was based more off of jealousy than it was honesty. Usually when reviewing a book honestly, reviewers attempt to point out both the good and bad parts.

Eva said...

I didn't point out anything good about this novel (besides that I liked the character of Gage Thompson) because I found nothing I liked. I will admit that I treated the authoress in an inappropriate way, but I've apologized and I hope we've both moved on from the situation. My opinions still stand, I just shouldn't have voiced them that strongly. I am certainly not jealous of the Heather Manning's writing style, the fact that she's published a book at such a young age (I think it's amazing, even if I don't personally like the book), or anything else surrounding Swept To Sea. I really don't know how anyone could get that impression. As I said before, there was extremely little about this novel that I even vaguely liked - I'm sorry my review didn't live up to your standards of honesty.

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