"Imagine Jane Austen with a naughty streak!"
Reviewed by Monique Daoust
Posted March 20, 2018
Theobald Raynalds, formerly Captain in the Royal Navy, is moving
to his new home in Much Wenlock. Miss Louisa Bennet is
so determined not to marry her cousin Charles, the horrid man
her father has chosen for her; she will wed anyone remotely
decent. Theo is a reasonably wealthy bachelor, and upon
learning of the new resident, Louisa decides that she will
marry Theo, sight unseen. But when she meets him, she is even
convinced he will do just fine; if they can fall in love, it
will be even better. There are a few little problems though:
Theo has been burned before by another woman; and he feels
terribly insecure since one of his legs had to be amputated, a
consequence of the Battle of Trafalgar. Can he ever love
THE CAPTAIN OF HER FATE will delight Jane Austen fans as the
first book of The
Other Bennet Sisters pays an
indirect homage to the celebrated Regency author. Mentions
and quotes from classic
Austen novels feature prominently, as do
excerpts from the then-banned Fanny Hill. Ms. Mason
captures the essence of the era through her obvious love of
Regency England, aided by her meticulous research and
to historical detail. Among other things, I loved the
mention of a barometer, which was certainly a commonly used
device at the time, and I can't recall ever having seen it
mentioned. I also found the historical equivalent of a car
chase very entertaining and clever!
The author's graceful prose is reminiscent of that of Miss
Austen, and Ms. Mason's use of language and idioms is
even in the dialogues. The story is rather simple, however
complications abound even if Theo and Louisa conclude they suit
rather early. THE CAPTAIN OF HER FATE is a quaint love story,
with the addition of some sizzling sex scenes, which happen at
the right place and the right time, and do not distract from
the romance. Ms. Mason adheres to the notion of things being
seen in black and white, which was the custom back then: Theo
and Louisa are very nice and engaging characters, but the
villains are as dastardly as expected in a genuine historical
novel. Vibrant descriptions enhance the narrative, and I really
loved a couple of secondary characters, namely Winnie and
Lieutenant Churchill, respectively Theo's sister and his
friend. If you have always wondered what a Jane Austen novel
would look like if sex happened, THE CAPTAIN OF HER FATE is the
perfect book for you!
Captain Theobald Raynalds lost his leg at the Battle of
Trafalgar and with it, his belief any woman could find a
cripple like him unobjectionable enough to love.
Louisa Bennet finds Theo incredibly attractive—both as a
in his own right and as an alternative to the odious cousin
her heartless father has arranged for her to marry.
First, however, she must convince the Captain her interest
in him stems from the man he is, scars and all, and not on
his being the lesser of evils . . .
ExcerptAfter the Captain’s sister quit the room, Louisa took her
advice and dozed until a knock on her bedchamber door
brought her back to herself. Just as she opened her mouth
to ask who was there, Capt. Raynalds called through the
door, “Miss Bennet, may I have a word?”
She hesitated before answering. As desperately as she
wanted to see him and hear what he came to say, her sense
of propriety told her to refuse him entry. Entertaining a
gentleman in her bedchamber was shockingly improper. Under
the circumstances, however, she could not bring herself to
send him away.
Pulling the bedclothes to her chin to cover the sheer
nightgown his sister had loaned her, she said, “Yes,
Captain. You may enter.”
He opened the door and, with the aid of his cane, limped to
the bedside and looked down at her, his expression
inexplicably stern. “Does my sister speak the truth?”
The question at once shocked Louisa’s heart and aroused her
fury. She could not decide which she would rather do, curl
up and die or strangle his sister with her bare hands. How
could the girl betray her confidence by telling her brother
her plans?—if, indeed, that was what she had disclosed.
Perhaps it was not, in which case, Louisa would be wise to
tread carefully to avoid betraying her own secrets (and his
trust in the process).
She blinked under his probing stare. “How can I answer that
when I have no idea what she might have told you?”
“She told me your father intends to marry you off to a man
He looked very unhappy, which pleased her immeasurably.
“Yes, that is true. He wants me to marry the cousin to whom
his estate is entailed—to ensure my mother and sisters will
have somewhere to live after he departs this world.”
The Captain, hands stacked atop his cane, shifted his
stance uneasily. “I can understand his motives—he is only
doing what he believes best for his family, one can only
presume—but I cannot agree with his forcing you to marry a
man you abhor. Does he know how much you loathe your
“And he insists upon you marrying this man in spite of your
“My feelings are of little consequence to my father, I
He scrubbed a hand down his face. “Surely there must be
some way around marrying this person.”
Did she dare share her idea? No, she mustn’t. If she did,
he would never come to trust her. “There is not, short of
running away and living as a gypsy.”
He stood there a long time, as if fighting an inner battle.
At length, he said, “There is one way I can think of…but I
fear I am not the man for the job.”
Louisa’s heart wilted. “You are right. We are strangers. So
why should you care what becomes of me?”
Softening in demeanor, he came closer and sat beside her on
the bed. “I do care what becomes of you, Miss Bennet—beyond
what I am willing to admit—but my heart is not quite
invested enough to put a ring on your finger. Neither is my
trust. And now, in addition to my standard reservations, I
suspect you mean to use me to avoid marrying this cousin of
“That is untrue!” She looked away so he would not see the
desperation in her eyes. “Well, it might be partially true…
but I shall endeavor to fall in love with you as soon as
He smiled at her sympathetically. “Forgive me. I by no
means wish you unhappy. Truly, I do not. But neither can I
consent to binding myself to a woman on the off-chance she
will fall in love with me.”
“So, you refuse to help me?”
Turning away from her, he said, with an indignant edge to
his voice, “That is supremely unfair, Miss Bennet. Have I
not helped you already? Did I not come to your aid when you
fell off your horse? Did I not take you in when your own
mother left you to my care? Have I not kept my distance to
protect you from scandal and ruin?”
The last bit astonished her. Did he really fear what might
happen if they were alone together? Were that indeed the
case, she might exploit his passions to aid her cause. Much
as she hated to resort to such deceitful measures, she
could see no other way to escape her marriage to Charles.
And it would not be entirely an act; for just now, with him
sitting so near, so dangerously near, she wanted nothing
more than to be in his arms.
“What if I want you to ruin me?”
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