The Captain's Bride

Cranberry Point

Moonlight

Wishing

 
Sunrise by Miranda Jarrett
(Sonnet, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-671-03262-3
****
Miranda Jarrett’s stories always make me wonder why more authors don’t set their stories in 18th century America. It’s a fascinating and yes, romantic, era. But perhaps they hesitate because Jarrett has made this period so completely her own that they hesitate to intrude. First with her Sparhawk family series and now with her Fairbourne family saga, Jarrett has recreated the world of early 18th century New England and created delightful romances. Sunrise is vintage Jarrett.

Our hero is Daniel Fairbourne, brother of Joshua (The Captain’s Bride) and Samson (Wishing). Our heroine is Juliette, sister of Amelie (Moonlight). They meet in a most unusual way, but after all, coincidence is the essence of story telling -- and life.

Like his brothers, Daniel left the Cape Cod town of Appledore to go to sea. But unlike Joshua and Samson, he abandoned his promising career as a ship’s captain when his young wife died in a sailing tragedy. Feeling responsible for Catherine’s death -- the two had quarreled and Catherine had flounced off to visit her sister -- he left the West Indies and settled on Nantucket Island where he is a successful blacksmith and a loner. He lives near the ocean and prowls the beaches, watching for ships in distress and castaways. He has gained a reputation as a rescuer of those the sea has endangered.

One day, after a nasty storm, Daniel goes to the beach. There he finds the body of a lovely young woman. At first he believes she is dead, but she is still alive, if just barely. She murmurs her name, Juliette. Daniel takes her to his house and nurses her through the fever that follows. When she awakes, she has no memory of who she is or what has happened to her.

OK, another amnesia story. But Jarrett handles this familiar plot device with considerable finesse and, it would seem, accuracy. Juliette has snatches and parts of her memory; for example, she knows she has a well loved sister. She soon discovers that she has a real talent for sewing. But she doesn’t know where she’s from or why she was at sea. And, when awake, she has no memory of the ship she was on or what happened to her.

Juliette’s arrival in Daniel’s life breaks down the barriers that he has erected against his feelings. Juliette comes to value and then love the gentle giant who saved her and cared for her and falls in love with her. But as her memory of her identity and her life as Boston’s most fashionable mantua maker begins to return, she fears that the truth will threaten their love. Daniel has his own secrets that might endanger their blossoming romance.

Jarrett writes character driven romances whose success depends on her ability to create heroes and heroines we come to like and admire. She then places her characters in a beautifully researched and realized setting. She knows the clothes, the furnishings, the customs, the crafts, the foods, the attitudes of the time. She also knows sailing, its dangers and delights. And she uses all of her knowledge to enrich her story.

Sunrise is a warm and winning love story. It is also a story about family, as Daniel through Juliette is reunited with his brothers. Jarrett is an acknowledged mistress of the family saga and the Fairbournes are every bit as intriguing as the Sparhawks. I look forward to following the Fairbournes through all the exciting events of the 18th century. I know it will be a fun and fascinating journey.

--Jean Mason


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