The Captain's Lady
Richard Fox
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Buy *The Captain's Lady* by Richard Fox online

The Captain's Lady
Richard Fox
160 pages
October 2009
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Fox’s light-hearted and whimsical novel, set mostly on a cruise ship, is peppered with an eccentric assortment of likeable characters. Dino Chiara is chief CEO of Viceroy Cruises. A shrewd judge of talent and a connoisseur of good music, Dino is well aware that Lauren Donahue is a gifted musician and piano player - even if she does have shares in the company.

Lauren is desperate to get away from her husband, and her interview with Viceroy Cruises comes at just the right time. Toad-like Mathew Moore, the vice president of Viceroy, is infatuated with Lauren and tries his damndest to win her affection, but Lauren maintains a wistful nostalgia for Colin Conway, the beefy, surly Captain of the Viceroy Star.

Colin, however is married to wealthy Joyce, a child of wealthy Puget Sound parents who enjoys the power her marriage status gives her, and she seems content to play the role of the good naval wife. Independently wealthy with a wardrobe and jewelry collection most women can only dream about, Joyce harbors dark secrets and buries her insecurities in a vodka haze made even thicker by an ever-increasing dependence on anti-depressants.

Joyce’s current state of mind isn’t helped by Lauren's feelings for Colin and their secret romance. All come together on the wind-swept decks of the Viceroy Star as Lauren and Colin enter their own little world, Lauren realizing she wants to spend every minute of the day with Colin, and he, in his reserved English way, with her.

Filling out the cast are Angie, a petite blond and expertly diplomatic social hostess; Manuel, Colin’s devoted cabin boy, who harbors fears about the ship and all those aboard; and Reena, the manager of the ship’s beauty shop and Joyce's eyes and ears. As Joyce battles her fierce envy of Lauren, who even “in the harsh Mexican sunlight radiates a flawless expression,” the author unfurls his entertaining back story of Colin, Joyce, and Lauren.

With irony, humor and a talent for exposing the lure of people to the ocean, "just pieces of jetsam floating away on the ebbing tide,” the author’s spirited protagonists face the frustrations of their lives with relative poise and candor. In the end, Fox surprises us by knocking reality on its side and reveling in the face of poor Joyce’s self-sacrifice, her ultimate brave actions forming the final action-packed denouement. Her martyrdom for the sake of those she loves remains a powerful force that reverberates throughout this quirky and rather fanciful story.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2010

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