Ms. Hachtel does an excellent job portraying tough, feminine characters in a time when women had fewer rights. This novel has a straight-forward plot and a strong beginning. I especially enjoyed the cute cooking scenarios as they broke up the monotony of the ship scenes.
Marilee Booth has to leave England for good as her life is in danger. Disguised as an old hag, she applies for the job as cook aboard a ship headed for America. Luckily the ship is set to sail that day. When Captain Robert Stuart boards the ship, Marilee knew he is destined to be her man. Marilee whips up some wonderful dishes for the crew, while she figures out how to make him notice her. It isn't until the last night when she sheds her disguise, climbs into his bed in the dark, that they meet their destiny.
Sadly, Marilee rises up before dawn, dawns her disguise, before the Captain wakes up, and makes breakfast for the crew. It isn't until the crew starts to leave the ship that she discovers he doesn't know who he slept with or whether or not she was a figment of his imagination. She becomes indignant and decides to get off the ship without telling him her identity.
This is a pleasant book. The middle section of the novel is a little weak, but overall, this story is a good read. For me, the best part of the book is the section where Marilee's on the ship going to America. I think the complexities of the problem-solving Marilee does when she's on the ship is great, and I would have been happy if the focus had stayed in that scenario. I also felt the return trip is a desecration of the initial trip, but that comparison is intentional for the plot and character development. However, the ending ties everything together and presents an equally strong ending.
What if the man who made love to you last night does not recognize you in the morning? True, you had been in disguise, but still…and what if this happened when you were fleeing for your life?
Marilee Booth masquerades as an old woman and hires on as a cook aboard a ship headed to the colonies. She seeks to evade her stepmother, who has attempted to kill her. She is smitten by the handsome captain, who sees her merely as a part of the crew. On the last night at sea, when she doffs her disguise and decides to say goodbye to him while he sleeps, her life is forever altered. And now she may not survive…