[A Captain for Caroline Gray]: An ARC Blog Tour Review

Hi y’all!

I am thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. As I’ve said before, I am so enjoying connecting with these authors and reading their lovely proper romances. Grateful to be able to read so many wonderful books! This book caught my eye because…

  • It’s a Regency romance with a twist. Instead of the classic London ballroom or English countryside settings, we are on a ship bound for India. That intrigued me right away (and reminded me a bit of the naval ship setting of Georgana’s Secret). 
  • Again, we are in the proper romance collection. I knew this book would be a beautiful, clean love story. 
  • I have heard great things about Julie’s books in the past and I was excited to finally read one for myself! And I can say with confidence that this will not be my last book from her.

I love historical Regency romances and this is now one of my favorites. It is such a beautiful novel with unexpected twists and new details about the Regency period. I was hooked from the first few pages and finished in about a day. I loved the story, the characters, and the romance. I couldn’t read fast enough!

Regency London. Caroline Gray’s third season in London society ends as badly as her first two—no marriage proposal, no suitor, not even a glimmer of an interested prospect. She suspects it’s because she is far too quick to speak her mind to men who are put off by her forthright opinions, her eager intellect backed by a formal education, and her unconventional ideas about the future. She is far more daring than demure to suit the taste of her class. Besides, Caroline thinks there will always be next season to find a husband. However, her family’s dwindling income leaves Caroline with only one choice to secure her future: a one-way ticket to sail with the Fishing Fleet to India, where the son of a family friend waits. If the match doesn’t work, Caroline cannot return home.

Captain Thomas Scott loves the thrill of the open sea, and as commander of one of the ships of the Fishing Fleet, he ferries scores of young English girls to the shores of India to find husbands. The voyages pay well, but he struggles to understand why families would allow young women to be matched with total strangers so far away. The trips have always been routine and uneventful—until this trip’s first night’s dinner with one Miss Caroline Gray. She engages in a lively political conversation, presenting opposing viewpoints to the conventionally opinionated gentlemen at her table. Captain Scott is secretly amused and delighted at her boldness, not to mention quite drawn to her beauty.

The rest of the passengers are shocked by her behavior and Caroline finds herself an outcast, suffering harsh judgments from the other passengers. However, she finds an unlikely ally in Captain Scott which quickly draws them closer. Both know an arranged marriage awaits Caroline at the end of their voyage, yet the attraction between them is undeniable. Caroline will have to decide if she will honor her mother’s wishes and marry a man in India whom she has never met, thus securing a future for her and her mother, or be brave enough to throw convention to the wind and commit to love a sea captain. He may be enchanted by her bold and unconventional ways, but will his love and admiration last?

I loved the new setting that gave a fun twist to the genre. We start in classic Regency London with balls and proposals and the ton. But we quickly change to a unique setting on a ship bound for India with several eligible young women hoping to find husbands. I was fascinated by that whole story line. I haven’t read much about India at this time but to hear about these women and their journey was fascinating. The length of the journey, the hope for a future, the sad reasons why they hadn’t found a match in England. It was really compelling. To compare how the British people treat the native Indians versus how the British aristocracy treats each other was quite striking. I loved the descriptions of Mumbai– vibrant colors, unique wares for sale, people and languages of all sorts. It sounded so unique and so exciting. Julie does a great job contrasting her settings and giving both places life and depth.

Caroline Gray is a fantastic protagonist. She is also unique. She stands up for herself and usually isn’t afraid to say what she thinks. Yes, the way she talks politics, science, and current events is surprising and certainly not the norm of the time. But I found her knowledge and confidence refreshing. She seeks to learn from those around her and isn’t above hard work. I want to be her friend. Throughout the novel, she goes through a compelling transformation as she seeks to fit in, hide her true character, and finally embrace her flaws and her strengths. Her journey to finding peace with herself is beautiful.

Captain Thomas Scott is an equally compelling character. He loves the sea and is working hard to prepare for a comfortable future. There are so many things he and Caroline agree on. Yet Caroline turns his world upside down and changes everything he thought he knew about the women who he shuttles to India. I loved how he has to change as well. He thinks he knows a lot about forgiveness and truth. But he comes to understand that he can make mistakes and needs to fight for what he loves. While I will say he frustrated me quite a bit in the second half of the novel, ultimately I loved his character.

Their romance is beautiful and full of tension and passion. Certainly we assume that Caroline and Thomas will find a way to be together. But the twists and turns that get us to that reconciliation and happily ever after are many! We spend the first half of the book aching to see them admit their feelings for each other. Their first kiss is gorgeous and that scene is so lovely and satisfying. I loved the build up to that moment when they both realize the other person cares for them. I got so frustrated with Thomas when he judges Caroline unfairly again and again. Let her defend herself! But in the end, I loved that he drops everything to find her. And I loved that Caroline is brave enough to move into the unknown because she hopes for a future with him. She doesn’t settle for an unhappy marriage with someone else just because she should. Her mind and her strength allow her to choose to pursue happiness. A beautiful romance that had me on the edge of my seat.

I absolutely loved this book! The characters are beautifully developed, the romance has the right amount of tension and love, and the ending is perfectly satisfying. I would have liked an epilogue to see what happens in the future. But I found myself smiling as I closed the book. One of my recent favorite historical romances!

What are the most unique historical settings you’ve read?
What time periods would you like to know more about?

Julie Wright wrote her first book when she was fifteen and has written over twenty novels since then. She is a Whitney Awards winner for best romance with her books Cross My Heart and Lies Jane Austen Told Me, and she is a Crown Heart recipient for the novel The Fortune Café.

She has one husband, three kids, one dog, and a varying amount of fish, frogs, and salamanders (depending on attrition). She loves writing, reading, hiking, playing with her kids, and watching her husband make dinner.

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