Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Sea Scoundrel by Annette Blair

*As published in West Georgia Living Magazine March/April 2013 issue.

"Falling in Love with romance all over again with ..."

Review by T.L. Gray

Author: Annette Blair
Publisher: ABA LLC; 2nd edition Expected Release Date: May 10, 2012
Pages/Genre: 267/Romance

Bio: A New York Times best-selling author, Annette Blair left her job as a Development Director and Journalism Advisor at a private New England prep school to become a full time writer. At forty books and counting, she added cozy mysteries and bewitching romantic comedies to her award-winning historical romances. She also stepped into the amazing world of self-publishing.
1997 RWA Golden Heart Finalist
1991 A Heart of the Rockies Award
1991 A Dallas Area Romance Authors

Book Description:
Publication Date: May 10, 2012
SEA SCOUNDREL, Knave of Hearts, One of Four

--Lady Patience Kendall crossed the sea to marry, but her intended died before she arrived. Penniless and stranded, she found only one way to get home: Bring rich American Misses to England to find them titled husbands. At the ship, she realized their mothers expected each to wed the Marquess of Andover. She'd have to seek an introduction. On the journey, Captain Grant St. Benedict was anything but friendly. Just because her girls caused a few mishaps? Grant had never met a woman more irritating, or more desirable, than the Lady Patience Kendall. But however dangerous his interest, he couldn’t resist teaching the delicious distraction that independence was nothing to passion.


I’m not much of romance reader, preferring most often the heart-felt coming of age young adult stories, the mystery and magic of historical fiction, or getting lost among the adventure often spread over a series in an epic fantasy.  Not since I was a teenager have I delved into a good, old-fashioned romance.  What is a good, old-fashioned romance?  I’m not sure, but it sounded virtuous to declare it as such.  My idea of romance is Jane Austen’s Price and Prejudice, and for many years believed that the historical beauty simply set the bar too high, and no other romance would be able to compare, so why bother reading them.  I’m glad I reconsidered after all this time to give a romance novel a chance, or at least a little glance.  I’m so glad I did, and have since filled my Kindle full of Annette Blair’s lovely stories.

In the mood for a sea adventure, working on my own epic fantasy based upon the rolling waters of the open sea, I came across a copy of Sea Scoundrel by Annette Blair.  It sat unopened, unconsidered and very much neglected in my eReader for a few weeks, mostly due to my romance bias.  But, one Saturday, with a free afternoon, and a sense to do something out of my comfortable box, I scrolled across the title and opened my mind, and heart, into the world of Lady Patience Kindall and Captain Grant St. Benedict. 

From the moment when the young, vibrant, determined Lady Patience tripped and found herself sprawled out in an un-ladylike fashion on the docks for the entire world to see her in her humiliation, I was baited.  Then, when the hand of a gruff sailor reached out to help her, I saw the writing on the wall.  My heart instantly latched onto the seaman and never let go for one moment throughout the rest of the story.  I fell hard very rapidly, so quickly, in fact, I questioned whether I carried enough objectivity to read and give an unbiased review.  I smile when I say, with all confidence I am, and tout my quick affections to the effective, powerful and excellent writing of the author Annette Blair.  

I spent the afternoon lost among witty banter, embarrassing situations, and lots of moments of passionate outbursts, prejudices, and pride built from steel.  Though not quite as epic as Austen’s ingenuity, it held its own and sailed right into my heart.  The quest:  Lady Patience is to escort a handful of rich young American ladies to the English gentry in an effort to secure them a wealthy and connected family. Of course, no journey ever ends as was intended, and each of our characters, especially the young Lady Patience and the dashing Captain St. Benedict, discover who they truly are, what their personal strengths and weaknesses may be, and then making the choice to be what makes them happy.  I’m all for a Happily Ever After.  In our fast-paced world, a little character development is much needed.  This is a clean read, not filled with sex and violence, and one I found that really pulls on the heartstrings.

However, this tale doesn’t stand alone on its own, but is part of a Knave of Hearts, a band of unruly boys from the Zebulon Fishkill Academy in 1805, who make a bond, to swear an oath, to be there for one another, to call on each other in times of trouble, whatever life hands them.  Knowing about this pact from these young boys, who all grew up and become dashing romantic men, always stayed in the back of my mind as I read this adventure.  And so compelling of a writer was Annette Blair, I found myself instantly downloading and jumping right into the next story, the next part of the Knave of Hearts and haven’t even given a glance backwards. 

So, am I now a hopeless romantic?  Perhaps I’ve always been a romantic, but I’ve found a work of art that has the power to sweep me away for a few hours and allow me to go on an adventure that is not only romantic, but filled with intrigue, humor and witty banter. 

I highly recommend this series, or any book or series from Annette Blair (having now devoured most of her publication list) for any reader who wants to take a light-hearted adventure. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Reviewed By:
 Reviewer:  T.L. Gray is a local author from Temple, Georgia.  She has five publications including: The Blood of Cain, Keezy’s 10 Awesome Rules for Teenaged Dating, Milledgeville Misfit, The Arcainians and A Kid in the Park as part of the anthology, Triumph Over Tragedy: Anthology to help Hurricane Sandy victims.   Ms. Gray works as a full-time novelist, editor, writing tutor, social media specialist and website manager.  She is an active Member of the Carrollton Creative Writer’s and Atlanta Writer’s Club, contributing writer to Impact Times Magazine and The West Georgia Living Magazine.  T.L. Gray is a 2012 Nominee for GAYA (Georgia Author of the Year Award), a NaNoWriMo 2012 Winner, and panelist in the upcoming Friends of the Library Literary Festival in Carrollton and the 2013 Georgia Literary Festival in Milledgeville.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Every writer, no matter at what level - neophyte to best-selling author - deals with the concept of rejection.  We get rejected by agents, publishers, reviewers, and fans.  It never feels good, but it can either build a stronger character within us, or cause us to break.  I've seen many writers rise above the challenge and go on to and become confident and successful authors. 

In our personal lives, rejection is much more damaging.  We walk through the day with our masks in place, hiding the fact we bleed inside.  We smile, we exist, but inside we die a little bit every day.  We cry in our cars in the middle of a rain storm.  In secret, we pour our hearts into black font, but never let anyone see.

For all those lovers out there, ready to celebrate Valentine’s, enjoy your day.  Don’t take it for granted, because there’s enough hearts out there …alone, rejected.  I’ve learned lately how to write poetry.  Never really cared for it before, but I guess it’s hard to appreciate something meant to feel when you’re comfortably numb. 

I woke up.
I wanted to believe.
I wanted to believe love was for me, too.
I wanted to feel wanted.
I wanted to feel desired.
I wanted to be needed.
I wanted to be cherished.
I wanted to be someone’s first thought.
I wanted to be someone’s good night.
I wanted the idea of you.
I wanted your kisses.
I wanted someone to place their heart into my hands.
Instead I hold onto my broken, rejected one.
I want to sleep.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray