Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly

I first picked up Beau Crusoe when it came out, but never got around to reading it. I'm very glad I did as it's not your typical Regency and can even be a bit gruesome at times, though I will try to avoid spoilers.

James Trevenen had been shipwrecked on an island for five(?) long years before being rescued by missionaries. While there, he kept sane by studying crabs and writing a treatise on them that he had published upon his return. It has won an award and he's to stay with Susannah Park's family until the award ceremony.

Susannah Park is a social outcast after she eloped. Her and her husband traveled to India where he died, leaving her pregnant. Now she dotes on her son and puts up with a crazy family.

I liked both James and Susannah. They're both not perfect and their pasts have had a profound affect on how they think and behave. I liked seeing them work through things together and realize that they belong together. A lot of the story deals with some very dark issues, but I liked that the author softened things with a bit of humor. James being hailed as "Beau Crusoe" and having some of his exploits greatly exaggerated is humorous and the exaggerations are relatively harmless.

I did have some reservations about the ending and how quickly things were seemingly resolved that did keep this one from being a keeper. I didn't think that James' issues would resolve themselves quite that quickly and would think his choice in the end would have had more of an effect on his psyche than it seemed to.

Carla Kelly can definitely write well and I look forward to reading more of her books. This one didn't quite make it up to keeper status, but I did enjoy it.

As an aside, apparently Carla Kelly lives in the same town that my Grandmother did. Considering it's a really small town, that's kinda cool.

*also posted at eHarlequin for the 2009 Challenge.

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