In the summer, I like to spend my afternoons and sometimes part of my night reading on the bed with the fan switched on full power. This is how I came to read the book entitled ‘Cross the Ocean’ by Holly Bush. It hooked me up instantly both because of the interesting story set up but also due to the intriguing characters.
The story involves Miss Gertrude Finch, a distant cousin who lives in America, of Lady Elizabeth Burroughs. Ms. Finch is escorting another relative across the ocean to the old continent and took the opportunity to meet Elizabeth in person after keeping in touch regularly through letters. Whilst being the house guest of the Duke of Burroughs, Ms. Finch meets one of England’s famous Dukes, Blake Sanders Duke of Wexford, and best friend to Anthony and Elizabeth Burroughs. Blake is tall, handsome, and currently unattached. His wife just dumped him and left him alone with three under-aged children. Blake is all about covering the scandal of his wife’s escapade to preserve the honor of his family title and prepare for the society come-out of his eldest offspring. His attitude towards society, titles, and women put him at odds with Ms. Finch who is all about independence, who cares less of titles and how bigoted Britain is. Ms. Finch is a 32-year-old spinster whose naïveté towards romance contrasts sharply with her buoyant appearance and attitude.
The author, Holly Bush, weaves a romantic story, with carnal passions and adventure quite neatly within 364 pages. The story is well-paced and versed, with clear descriptions and a good amount of conversation. In fact, the flurry of arguments between Ms. Finch and Blake Sanders were quite interesting and at times comic. Whilst I don’t want to spoil the plot further, let’s just say that halfway through the book, the reader is transported on a voyage to America where one can read an insight of the Wild West and the development of the American land in the 1870s.
What you’re waiting for though is not a summary of the book but whether I like it or not. In fact, I have to give this book a 3 out of 5 crowns only. Whilst I did like some of the characters in the book, unfortunately, I was not drawn to the two protagonists. Both of them are ‘too much’ for their own good both physically and personality-wise. The reader can be either entranced by them or find them despicable. Personally they did not appeal to me at all. Blake Sanders reminds you at first of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice however his change of heart is too drastic, obvious, and personally not very much appealing.
What I found was a major let down is that halfway through, the characters themselves start telling you what is going to happen in the story. Of course, they don’t spell it out, but it is so obvious and predictable that you feel that you don’t need to read the rest of the book to know how it’s going to end. The twists of the secondary characters were far more interesting than the lives of the protagonists themselves. Also, it seems that the author has a fascination with pregnant women since in the book there were about 4-5 pregnancies mentioned and one speculative. I felt that this repetition was quite a nuisance and unnecessary.
The verbal battles that ensue within this book were at times engaging and interesting; especially in the beginning, but they end up being quite melodramatic by the end. Some characters’ reactions were exaggerated at times whilst others were locked up in a stereotype that I found annoying. Other readers commented across the net, that such comic relief was entertaining and sat the book apart positively. Personally, in a historic romance book, comedy is not something I believe should be major in the plot but should be secondary to the romance. Thus I found the latter a bit lacking.
Nonetheless, I do have to admit that I read the book in less than 48 hours which means that it was engaging and interesting enough to keep me hooked for a decent amount of hours. There were also some good parts that I enjoyed reading. Overall it’s a good book but it’s not so much memorable. I love books where I can fall in love with the characters and the plot. Where I become fond of them and the character development makes sense and is relevant. Thus when this magic did not take place, I did feel a bit disappointed with this book and that’s why I give it 3 Crowns – a Duchess of a Good Read (Reviewed by Countess Samantha)