Some time ago I read two books by Karen Hawkins. They've been sitting on the bedside table since, eh, June? I do like to stay on top of things. Ahem.
The first one is Her Master and Commander. I'll admit straight up that I bought it solely for the cover. It was when I was waiting for Pirates of the Caribbean to come out, and a guy on a ship with a Seinfeld puffy shirt appealed. I still like the cover.
I also got the sequel, Her Officer and Gentleman. Hey, this one's got a nice cover too if you're into highwaymen and dark horses and swashbuckling guys. Know anyone like that?
My daughter actually read Her Master and Commander first, on a road trip to Disneyland with her father. Her father was mucho disturbed by the title by the way.
Oh, an aside about the titles. Um, cute, um, I think. Either cute or Reeeeeeely annoying. I can't tell yet.
The heroes of the two books are brothers, separated early in life, who are the illegitimate sons of a crusty old Earl. (Duke? Don't have the books right in front of me. Sorry.) One ends up as a Naval Officer in the Napoleonic War, one ends up as a Highwayman. As the Earl/Duke lies dying (lays dying?) he decides to leave his estate to the sons, on the condition that his Butler, Reeves, can find them, and on the further condition that they demonstrate polished manners necessary to convince a cabinet of the Earl's cronies that they are worthy of inheriting. Earl dies. Cough.
Turns out Reeves knows exactly where they are and how to smooth their rough edges. (Suisan's starting to get mildly annoyed about the convenience of the plotting here, but agrees to overlook it in the interest of hiding under the covers to avoid her political, legal, and personal troubles which popped up during the summer.) The first book is rather charming. Although the cover has little to do with the story at hand. Naval guy is crippled and is currently housing his loyal and mostly injured crew in a cottage by the sea. His next door neighbor, a fine young lass, ends up being hired by Reeves to tutor the crippled sailor. Not a terrible read, but not great either.
The second book, Her Officer and Gentleman, has very little going for it at all. First, there IS NO OFFICER in the book. For all the movie titles in all of IMDB, why this one? Why? Master and Commander is at least a movie about a Commander of a ship. Karen Hawkin's book doesn't even have a tie-in to the military. This made me slightly nuts.
Reeves is trying hard here to get Highwayman to give up his dangerous life (Her Year of Living Dangerously?) so that he can be properly groomed for the succession. And uh, that's about it. Reeves talks a lot about a bright pink waistcoat he'd like to get his black-clad hero into, and there's a girl involved. I'm not trying to be facetious, but really, that's all that I remember from the book. Other than being annoyed at the cover (no nighttime raids without shirts) and at the title.
So, um, I think the lesson here is that when you go out of your way to buy books for reasons other than really wanting to read the stories within the books you don't end up all that satisfied at the end of the day. Essentially I bought these because they were a series and because I liked the cover of the first book. (I think Amazon recommended the first title to me--not sure I would have known it existed otherwise.)