The Charm School by Susan Wiggs

Just Finished:

Synopsis: An awkward misfit in an accomplished Boston family, Isadora Peabody yearns to escape her social isolation and sneaks aboard the Silver Swan, bound for Rio, leaving it all behind.

Ryan Calhoun, too, had a good family name. But he’d purposely walked away from everything it afforded him. Driven by his quest to right an old wrong, the fiery, temperamental sea captain barely registers the meek young woman who comes aboard his ship.

To the Swan’s motley crew, the tides of attraction clearly flow between the two. Teaching her the charms of a lady, they hope to build the confidence she needs to attract not only their lonely captain’s attention, but his heart, as well. For everyone knows the greatest charms are not those of the formal lady, but rather the possibilities of a new world built on love.

My Thoughts: ***apologize in advance. I read this about a month ago, and my recollection of the story is sketchy at best. I also am unable to find my book to reference certain points, so it is what it is.*** Also, Charm School was one of the books that’s been in my TBR pile for years. I’m challenging myself to try and get my pile down this year.

Isadora “Dora” Peabody is the misfit of her entire family. While her siblings are all tall, blond, and beautiful; Dora is dark, homely, and overweight. Which, I guess, makes her the perfect heroine for an ugly duckling kind of story. Ryan, on the other hand, is the handsome son of a Virginia plantation owner.

Dora’s first meeting with Ryan was actually through his mother who had been searching from him. And let’s just say he was **ahem** otherwise occupied **ahem** when they first come upon him on the boat. But, this was exactly the catalyst that Dora needed in order to hire herself as a linguist on Ryan’s next venture. See, a friend of Dora’s family owns the ship, and thus she seals the position as linguist, but also agrees to spy on Ryan for her friend. And as poor Ryan’s luck hadn’t just gotten bad enough, his mother and servant also book passage on his ship to Rio.

I enjoyed how Dora forced herself a position on Ryan’s boat and how they begrudgingly became friends. I enjoyed how Dora lost herself on the boat, lost her inhibitions, and soon became comfortable in her own skin. She eventually becomes less clumsy and also loses weight, morphing into quite a beautiful woman (which is a side rant for me. Why, why, why, why, why do authors have to do this? Why can’t the heroine stay a little plump, or homely, or whatever? Personally, that’s a story I’d love to see). I love the friendship she developed with Ryan’s mother, Lily (?? I think that’s her name??).

Frankly, at the beginning, Ryan really isn’t that endearing of a character. But what does endear him to me is his friendship with Journey, his former slave who he gave his freedom. And now, he was sailing in order to save enough money in order to free Journey’s wife and children from their lives of slavery as well.

Verdict: This was Okay. I’ll need to read its sequel, The Horsemaster’s Daughter before I decide on whether or not it’s a keeper. I’m just undecided. The read itself was okay, and there were some humorous parts. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a story that stuck with me.

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