15 years ago, Viola Carlyle’s life changed forever when her real father snatched her from her home and introduced her to his life of pirating. Believed to be dead by all – except her sister – Viola left her old life behind and reinvented herself as the captain of a ship. Jinan Seton knows a bit about reinventing yourself. After a horrific childhood and a career as a pirate, Jin now works for the Admiralty through the Falcon Club, finding lost individuals and bringing them home. Jin is determined to bring Viola back home to her family in England and Viola is equally determined to thwart him at every turn. As their battle of wits escalates, it’s not long before the initial antagonism becomes a passion of a different kind. Viola may resist becoming a proper lady, but Jin must resist falling in love – or risk losing his heart.
How to Be a Proper Lady is the second book in Katharine Ashe’s Falcon Club series and it’s every bit as delicious as it promised. Jin (and, to a lesser extent, Viola) both make appearances in Ashe’s earlier book, Captured By a Rogue Lord. In that novel, Viola’s story is hinted at, so I was quite excited when I learned that she would finally get her chance to shine and we readers would finally know what happened to her all those years ago. With the mysteriously handsome Mr. Seton as her hero, I had every confidence I would be satisfied with How to Be a Proper Lady.
Of course, authors have a way of exceeding my expectations, so I wasn’t merely satisfied with Viola and Jin’s story; I was swept away by their passionate and headstrong romance. With lush and rich descriptions of exotic locations in the Caribbean, charming and humorous secondary characters, and two fiercely independent individuals, How to Be a Proper Lady may just be Ashe’s best novel yet. (Indeed, I think it’s a great testament to her writing that I honestly believe each book gets better and better.)
Her brazen confidence, her unafraid tongue, her successes in the face of the setback of her entire life, even her crew’s idiotic devotion marker her as an exceptional woman. A woman quite unlike any he had known.
There are many aspects of this novel to love, but the one thing I kept coming back to, again and again, was how Viola and Jin regarded each other. Here, they are equals. As much as Jin tries to keep his distance and treat Viola as the lady he believes she can be, he respects and admires her position as captain of her own ship. He earns her trust by accepting her in a position of authority. Viola, meanwhile, refuses to play by the rules and is determined to meet Jin on her own terms. She goes after what she wants and won’t back down, even in the face of danger. I loved how they balanced each other and how perfectly matched they were. It wasn’t about the hero rescuing the heroine; in Ashe’s novel, the heroine can rescue herself and help the hero out of a tight spot.
As part of the Falcon Club series, How to Be a Proper Lady gives us glimpses of the other members and these secondary characters – no doubt soon to be the stars of their own novels – are wonderful additions. I’m constantly intrigued by Wynn’s behavior and wonder at his backstory. And the clever and witty exchanges between Lady Justice and Colin (I assume, as acting secretary of the club) have me eagerly awaiting that particular story. The Falcon Club is still shrouded in enough mystery to keep readers pondering its purpose, origin and future. I can only hope Ashe will eventually provide some answers.
From the harbors of Boston and the sultry ports in Trinidad to the green hills of Devonshire and bustle of London, Katharine Ashe’s How to Be a Proper Lady takes readers on a journey across the Atlantic and back with two stubborn and spirited people who are destined for one another. A wonderful addition to the Falcon Club series and a must-read for any Katharine Ashe fan.
I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]