Sunday, August 9, 2015

Oceanswept - Lara Hays (Oceanswept #1)

OceansweptLet me tell you, if I ever publish a novel, I want to talk to Lara Hays' cover artist, because that cover is gorgeous.  It perfectly encapsulates the type of book I was hoping Oceanswept was: a historical romance with a hefty helping of adventure.  In reality, Oceanswept tried to be the historical romance with a hefty helping of adventure, but I'm not completely certain that it succeeded.

The plot follows Tessa, a young woman who is moving to St. Kitt's from London, where her admiral father has been transferred.  Their ship is caught in a hurricane, and Tessa is forced overboard and slips beneath the water.  When she comes to, she's in a cabin on a pirate ship--though she doesn't immediately realize it's a pirate ship--and in the care of one Nicholas, an officer on said ship.  The rest of her own ship appears to have been lost, including her father.  The captain of the ship is a man named Black with evil red eyes, and Tessa quickly becomes a point of contention on the ship.

The book jacket (is it still a book jacket if the book is digital?) description is misleading.  It mentions that a mutiny is brewing, and one is--but that's only the first part of the book, and here enters the book's main flaw.  It doesn't have good pacing.  I saw a chart a few weeks ago that perfectly captured how a book should be paced, balancing plot and sub-plot.  Basically, the plot should have a series of peaks and valleys, and during the valleys the sub-plots should have peaks.  All of them should rise at the same rate and come together during the climax.  Hays doesn't do that at all.  There's really no sub-plot to speak of; some might say that its the relationship between Nicholas and Tessa, but to that I say HA! because it's not really a sub-plot because it's clear they're going to be together from the beginning and there's not really any tension in between them.  As soon as they decide they like each other, they decide that they'll be together, and that's it for that.  So, there's the mutiny plot on the boat, which rises, climaxes, ends...and then there's a long period of what's really nothingness.  Tessa's by herself, doing some work, but there's nothing really developing.  And then Nicholas shows up again, and there's so much more nothing of them all being happy-go-lucky but nothing happening, and then there's another burst of plot at the end.  This structure means that chunks of the book just dragged as I played the waiting game, not knowing when something else would develop.

Tessa was also annoying as a main character.  She's pretty much useless--a kicking-and-clawing variety of heroine.  Not every heroine has to go around toting a crossbow and slaying vampires, but if they don't, it's nice to see them possess a brain and not be completely subject to the whims of the hero.  Tessa...doesn't really possess a brain.  Hays tries to establish her a strong individual with the "girl time on the island" segment, but it doesn't really work, and she goes right back to being a complete follower who doesn't really possess the will or brainpower to do anything on her own.  Combined with the problems with pacing, Tessa's character made this book hard to read at times.

It took me days to slog through this, and I feel like Hays could have--and maybe should have--cut large portions of the book without it suffering.  I doubt I'll be picking up the sequel; the future plot seems pretty obvious, and without any real conflict brewing between the two main characters, I don't see anything there to bring me back.

2 stars out of 5.

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