Title: Captain of My Heart, book 1 of Heroes of the Sea Series
Author: Danelle Harmon
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: Prologue: 1775, open seas; 1778 Newburyport, Massachusetts, mouth of the Merrimack River and the open seas
Published by: Danelle Harmon
Published Date: December 10, 2013
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Pages: 512
Audible Release Date: August 5, 2014
Narrator: Wayne Farrell
Listening Length: 14 hours, 20 minutes
He wanted no woman, except one made of sails and wood and wind.
Handsome, wily Irish privateer Captain Brendan Jay Merrick is running from a painful past – and fighting for a new nation’s future when he arrives in the colonial town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, with plans for shipwright Ephraim Ashton to build his magnificent new schooner. Brendan’s daring sea battles against His Majesty’s fleet have made him a legend in his adopted country – but one look at the dashing stranger and Ashton’s daughter Mira starts making plans of her own.
She wanted no man – but him. Brash, hot-tempered, and born at sea in a raging gale, Mira Ashton is more than most men can manage. Disguising herself as a crew member and sneaking aboard Brendan’s newly-built Kestrel, she becomes the schooner’s finest gunner – and the captain’s most outrageous distraction. As desire ignites between them, Mira finds herself competing against Kestrel for Brendan’s love. But when tragedy strikes, Mira must join forces with her mighty rival in a daring adventure that turns the tide of battle and brings glorious victory to the colonists, the captain – and the lady who has captured his heart.
Review: Captain Brendan Merrick was a man of compassion and one who believed in doing the right thing which meant taking care of the men who served under his command. Captain Brendan Merrick was the new flag captain who previously captained the crew on the Halcyon. It was apparent how much the men love and respected him. Crichton the current captain of the ship was despised by his men and captained with an iron fist. We walk into a scene where Dalby was strung up to be thrashed for stealing a dry biscuit.
The day he was cruelly, and with knowing intent by Crichton, shot and then fell overboard was the day that he no longer belonged to the Royal Navy (1775).
This was a wonderful way to start the story, my emotions were laid out plain and simple– compassion for Dalby, hatred for Crichton, the antagonist, and affection for the well-loved flag captain, all were dumped into the cold ocean along with Brandon Merrick’s body. I was dumbfounded!
Three years later (1778) Captain Brendan Merrick had his own ship, privateering for the American colonies. He survived the bullets and sea, changing sides from Royal Navy to the American colonies. The gods of fate intervened.
We early on are introduced to Dalby, an incredibly funny character with hypochondriac inclinations, and Liam, an officer on the captain’s ship, who was Brendan’s childhood friend. Both of them produced lots of humorous moments.
I want to share this funny scene, one of several in the story. It seems that Crichton has not lost his hatred of Brendan Merrick through the years and he’s following him into Newburyport getting ready to blow the ship Annabel out of the water.
Liam’s voice, desperate and wild.
Faith, where was their confidence in him?
Sure enough, there was Liam, all two hundred strapping pounds of him, shoving his telescope into a seaman’s hand and hurtling toward him at breakneck, speed. Blue eyes bulging, he slid into the deckhouse where Brendan was sitting, nearly tripping over a ringbolt as he grabbed desperately for his arm.
Brendan barely glanced up. “Honestly, Liam, as an officer, you really should try to set a better example. Racing across the deck like that—“
“God Almighty, Cap’n, it’s Crichton commandin’ that frigate!” Liam had his arm now, nearly ripping it from its socket; the drafts jumped in the wind, and Brendan grabbed them just in time. “D’ye hear me, Brendan? Crichton!”
Astern, the British frigate drew closer, determined to prevent them from reaching the Merrimack River and the safety of Newburyport. Water thundered and creamed from her bows. Drums rolled ominously upon the wind. Pipes shrilled. Gunports were yawning open. . . .
While forward in Annabel’s bows, Dalby O’Hara crouched miserably, a gnarled hand clamped over his belly, and his face the color of oatmeal as he remembered his own treatment at the hands of that frigate’s captain, three years before.
At his elbow, Fergus McDermott, an atheist who’d adopted religion thirty seconds earlier, recited the Twenty-third Psalm over and over in a mindless chant.
Brendan held up the schooner’s drafts so that Liam could see them better. “Y’know, Liam, I’ve been thinking . . . Maybe I ought to give the bowsprit a bit more steeve. Other than that, I think she’s going to be perfect. Sharp in the topsides around the bow, lean in the stern, and lots of rake in both. Not only will our new privateer be a swift as the wind, she’ll sit so low in the water that her profile will be all but invisible from a distance! And with this hull shape, she’ll be perfect for windward sailing, and we’ll be able to carry a greater press of sail, even flying topsails and topgallants if we’ve a mind to-0-“
“Too little beam and she’d be fast but unstable. Too much and she’d be a laggard. Too fine a bow and stern and we’d sacrifice weight-carrying ability fore and aft. That means guns, Liam! And in a privateer, that won’t do, now, will it?” Beyond Annabel’s desperate bowsprit the sunset smeared the sky in brilliant tones of red and purple, reflecting against the water as it changed from sea-cop to rippling cat’s paws of current. In the distance, Newburyport was coming into view. “Ah, Liam, if we had this schooner right now, we’d leave that beast back there lumbering in her own bow-wake. If we had the schooner—“
“Dammit, Brendan, we’re not goin’ t’ have a schooner if ye don’t put down those bloody drafts and listen ‘t me! It’s Crichton!”
Brendan glanced up, his eyes alight with mirth, and his mouth set in the same quirky grin that was as reckless now as it had been when he and Liam had spent their childhoods exploring the rocky shores of Connaught. It was a grin that was sure to drive poor Liam mad. “So anyhow, I’ve decided that if I have this Ashton fellow build her exactly to my specifications, ninety feet on deck, with a beam of twenty-three feet—“
Dead astern, the frigate’s sails shook and boomed as she leaned over onto a new tack, the guns that stabbed from her forecastle glinting blood-red in the setting sun.
“—and with a draught of just under ten feet- Faith, Liam, will you please let go of my sleeve?”
“But it’s Crichton!”
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The scene goes on, continuing to make me laugh. As I retyped this scene, I was laughing! Isn’t Captain Brendan Merrick just the sweetest thing? I liked him from the prologue scene in how he treated his old shipmates in 1775, but in 1778, I loved him. And I must tell you, Wayne Farrell knows just how to portray the captain. I could hear the tone of mirth in the dialog. His accent was just amazing.
When we meet Miss Mira Ashton she’s singing Yankee Doodle Dandy, in breeches which is her usual dress, training a horse. Here, dear reader, is a scene where we learn the stuff that makes Mira Ashton who she is. And she ISN’T a singer. Again Wayne Farrell does an excellent job with the singing. I have NEVER heard Yankee Doodle Dandy sung by someone tone-deaf. Yikes! (Wayne had difficulty singing it thus, since he has an excellent singing voice)
Ms. Mira Ashton had a personality that was fun discovering. She had a softer side hidden by the only way she knew how to act. But she was very perceptive, both with animals and people. She is a rather boisterous, uncouth young lady, acting as her brother Matthew and father. She holds her own in their umpteen arguments. She’s a multi-faceted character, well-defined. Narrator Wayne Farrell outdoes himself in the dialog as they argue. I’ve listened to it several times since my first listen and it is STILL crazy fun.
Mira loves animals and cares for and saves injured or starved strays. Once well, she finds new homes for them, well, MOST of them. She’s extremely patriotic, loves ships. Mira changes through the story, not who she is so much, but how she interacts with people. She wants and needs to change, because she knows that Captain Brendan is her man. She just needs to make him at least like her. There are some very poignant moments between these seemingly ill-matched pair.
Wayne Farrell speaks each sentence clearly, in a quiet manner letting the listener hang on to each sentence. His voice is mellow, with a light lyrical lilt of words that simply held the magic so eloquently splayed on the page.
The author uses powerful words in her descriptive sentences and Wayne gives the listener time to savor them. His Yankee and Irish accents are brilliant. The carefree, gallant, and sometimes jocular manner of the Irish captain Brendan is personified through Wayne’s emotional tone.
At other times he bellows where dialog provides the opportunity, sings as if he’s tone deaf, and carries us into the story as waves to the shore.
I could go on and on about the book, the dialog, the description of scene, the character development, the characters themselves. It truly was marvelous. It is a MUST READ if you love historical romances, to laugh, cry, and generally fall in love with a book. I plan on listening to it again, just for the fun and pleasure of hearing it a second time. I absolutely KNOW you will love the book and if you can get the audiobook, even better. This is one of my top reads/listens of the year.
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“One of my all-time favorite authors!” — Julia Quinn, NYT Bestselling Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Danelle Harmon has written many books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. Though born and raised in Massachusetts, she and her husband, a native of southwest London, were married and lived in England for several years. These days, Ms. Harmon and her husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including three dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and numerous pet chickens. Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DanelleHarmon
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About Wayne Farrell: Wayne Farrell is an internationally acclaimed audiobook narrator. His work includes Booker Prize nominated titles, a Guardian First Book Award winner and numerous bestsellers on Amazon, Google and iBooks.
He spends his time between Europe, SE Asia and the Middle East, where is has his own professional-grade recording studio.
What The Critics Say:
“…mesmerizing…There are times when a narrator enhances a book, and there are times like this when he makes it.” – Michele Cobb, President, Audio Publishers Association
“…his narration of ‘Spiggot’ is just a jaw dropper.” – Jennie Mortarotti, Narrator Reviews
“….does such a terrific job of making the storytelling haunting that I really didn’t know what to expect and was on the edge of my seat….the recorded reading of this book by Wayne Farrell is amazing.” – for “Haunted Melody” by J. Kent Holloway