(Review) Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks

Publisher and Publication Date: Shadow Mountain Publishing. January 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction. Proper Romance.
Pages: 320.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback/NetGalley e-book copy from Shadow Mountain. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction and proper romance stories.
Rating: Very good.

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Author Info:

Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the
Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures
and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in
history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn’t writing,
Arlem is baking her characters’ favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning
how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her
husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance
novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.

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Summary:

A Regency romance on the high seas. Two hearts yearning to find a safe
harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.
As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls,
and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future
under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join
her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”
Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication
to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. While trying to adjust to a
new crew, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the
captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it
and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic
deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s
secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent
and hides his growing affection for her.
Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is
convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life
on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her
chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable
husband are quickly slipping away.

My Thoughts:

I love the unique story of Georgana.
As a young girl, and beginning to mature and develop, she became another person in order to be near her father and safe. She is uncomfortable in this role. She is bullied and abused because of this role. She is always on guard hoping her true identity will not be discovered. Her impersonation is difficult but required.
I am reminded of how difficult it is to try and be someone else in order to please another. I am reminded of men and women who are in relationships who pretend to be someone they are not. It is a burden and taxing. These issues are never deeply explored, but Hawks touches on them in Georgana’s story.

I love the character Dominic.
Lieutenant Dominic Peyton is a good son, and he is an officer in His Majesty’s Royal Navy. He is not looking for a romantic relationship. He believes it will detour him from life and career at sea. After boarding the HMS Deborah, he notices a cabin boy who is in trouble. It is interesting Dominic makes time to be compassionate and kind. I feel this is an admirable trait in a man who seems to be singularly focused on his career. But he is also a good son and treats his mother well. This is often a predictor of how a man will be in a relationship. Further, I feel a part of him knows the truth about Georgana.

I’d like to have read more about Georgana’s father. I know enough about him to be curious for further character development.

Another character who is an intriguing secondary character, Etienne. He is the ship’s doctor.

I love reading about life at sea, encounters with the enemy, duties for the crew, medical procedures onboard ship, emergency situations, and the relationships between the males.

Men can be friends with men. Women can be friends with women. Men and women can be friends. And all these relationships can happen without sex. It is possible. Romance doesn’t happen to two people because they are in a platonic relationship. Romance is a result of a mix of other factors. It is possible for a reader to wonder is there could have been a sexual relationship between Dominic and Georgana—Dominic thinking Georgana was a boy. I don’t know, that’s a far reach. I still believe a part of him knew her identity.

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