Author: Jerry Sacher
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 2.5 stars
Provided by Publisher
Blurb: Andrew Elliot, the son of a Scottish nobleman, is being sent to America, accompanied by his fiancée and her brother. But Andrew’s engagement is not a love match. His family insists that he marries to “cure” him of his feelings for the son of the caretaker on his father’s estate.
Matthew Ahearn leaves Ireland to pursue his dream of becoming a Texas cowboy. In London, a brush with the law almost derails his plans, but Matthew perseveres and lands a job as a third-class steward on a ship bound for America.
Andrew’s and Matthew’s worlds collide as they—and their secrets—are brought together in the magic of an ocean voyage, one that will never be forgotten.
The year is 1912, and they are about to board RMS Titanic….
Review: Being a huge fan of historical fiction, I was excited to read this story which features the Titanic tragedy as a background. While the beginning chapters of the story held promise, I found a lack of plausibility to many of the elements as the story unfolded.
The first few chapters presented interesting background pertaining to the two main characters, Andrew and Matthew. Born an Edinburgh nobleman, Andrew Elliot was set to enjoy a fine life and lucrative inheritance – until he was caught kissing Robert, a servant’s son. Matthew Ahearn led a lackluster life in Belfast — he dreamed of America, cowboys and moving pictures. I immediately had issues with the two similar names: Matthew and Andrew. I needed to remind myself who was who throughout the first half of the story.
Andrew’s father knew of his son’s dalliance with Robert and decided the best thing for it was an arranged marriage. If Andrew fought it he’d lose his inheritance. Exactly why the father felt it necessary to book Andrew, his arranged fiancé Claire, and her brother William on an ocean voyage was never clear to me. The three ended up booked first class on the doomed Titanic. Claire and William were obviously shifty and of dubious peerage, so I was keeping an eye on them and rightly so. Matthew had a tougher time making it shipboard. Part of his road involved being taken advantage of sexually by someone of a higher station. This incident was something that would come back to haunt him.
The historic elements of the story were fascinating and heartbreaking, and came across as well researched. The author had Andrew and his fiancé socializing with many of the big names on board, such as Francis Millet, Molly Brown, John Jacob Astor and Captain Smith. The reader was regaled with many facts about the ship, as well as the character’s reactions to its splendor. I found this detail overbearing after a while. It started reading as if the story was being dropped into a history lesson, rather than the history providing a backdrop for the story.
Matthew and Andrew met by chance the first night of the voyage and we are told they felt mutual attraction. Given the time frame of when the Titanic sank, this gave them four days to fall for one another. I don’t have an issue with love at first sight — the problem here for me was I felt zero chemistry between the two of them. None. Add to that the fact that Matthew had been traumatized to a degree shortly before the voyage, and Andrew had supposedly been pining for Robert. I just wasn’t feeling their supposed attraction. The near complete lack of on- page sex contributed to the lack of chemistry. Perhaps more insight into what happened during the moments the men were able to steal alone together would have better established a connection. The author devised a clever way for such liaisons to occur, which I felt went wasted as far as relationship building is concerned. In public the men lacked a sense of wariness regarding flirting with one another. Both men were proud, and accepted their orientation, which was refreshing, but in a day and age when such action could get one put in prison, this had me raising my brows.
Of course the men survive the fate of the Titanic, withstanding many freezing, fraught and despondent hours. They also survive the scheming of Claire and William, Matthew’s past, and Andrew’s family. It all wrapped up too conveniently for me.
The bones are here for an intriguing and colorful story. The lack of romantic connection between the main characters, combined with an unsettling lack of plausibility in so many elements, prevented me from becoming invested.