Honor Bound (fka The Bastard) by Brenda Novak
Publication date: 01 May 2012 by Amazon
Category: Adult Historical Romance
Keywords: Historical, romance, disguise, navy
To some men honor is just a word...
Jeannette Boucher, a young French beauty from a family left penniless by the revolution, must marry against her will to save them all from ruin. But almost immediately after the vows are spoken, she learns that her old English husband is impotent—and in his desire for an heir, he plans to compromise her in the worst way. Determined to escape such a fate, she stows away on one of His Majesty’s frigates. But a woman alone is in constant danger.
To Lieutenant Treynor, honor means everything...
Born a bastard to a wayward marquise, Lieutenant Crawford Treynor was given to a poor farmer to raise and was maltreated until he ran away to join the Royal Navy. Treynor is determined to prove he’s as good as any other man and rise to captain his own frigate. But once he finds Jeannette aboard The Tempest he must decide whether to return her to the man he knows would abuse her—or risk everything, even his life, to keep her safe.
I picked up this book, then called The Bastard, a few months ago after seeing it as a free Kindle download (it's now back to $3.99). The idea of a romance on the high seas intrigued me and so I began it with high hopes. Honor Bound is the story of Lieutenant Crawford Treynor, born a bastard, who has worked his way up to a position of power and prestige on board The Tempest. He longs to captain his own ship and show the world that a bastard can be as honorable and worthy of the same things as a legitimate son. Jeannette Boucher agrees to marry an old Englishman who needs an heir to save her family from financial ruin. However, she learns that he is impotent but still plans on having his heir, even if it means compromising Jeannette in the worst way. So she stows away on one of the King's ships, but a woman alone is not safe on the high seas and Jeannette must depend on Treynor to protect her identity on the ship.
I had never read anything by Brenda Novak before but knew that she had a good rep as a romance writer. I started the book hoping to find an exciting, action packed adventure full of romance on the high seas. While entertaining, the book did not deliver the drama and intensity that I look for in a good romance. Honor Bound had all of the elements of an exciting sea tale going for it - brooding sea captain, sassy heroine, a plot to attack the kingdom - but it all came off as very tame. I don't know what it was but I just wasn't drawn into the story as much as I wanted to be. I cared about Jeannette and Treynor but I wasn't really invested in their relationship. And while there are some very nice kissing scenes, there wasn't much beyond that in the romance department. I don't need a love scene in every chapter or anything but, c’mon, I want some sexy times in a romance novel.
As characters, Jeanette and Treynor are likable but forgettable. I didn't read the book that long ago and I am having a really hard time remembering much about either of them. Of the two I think Treynor is more interesting. He has a strong sense of honor and duty that compels him. He also has a chip on his shoulder because he is a bastard. He is trying to prove something, to himself and to society. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with Jeannette. She's a feisty heroine in her own right. She just didn’t seem that unique and I felt like I had seen many characters like her before.
While I enjoyed the nautical setting, I felt like there was too much emphasis on the logistics of running of a ship that distracted me from the main characters. Instead of making out like I wanted them to be, Jeannette was often scrubbing decks or hiding from the other shipmates. I know, I know, don’t read a book set on a boat if you’re not interested in life on a ship. You’re probably right but I do feel like the balance between the ship stuff and romance was a bit uneven. If you like stories set on the ocean you might like this one.
*Random side note but I just realized that along with the title change I think they redid the cover and gave him a shirt. Oh what a shame. :)