by Candice Proctor, historical (2003)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-44718-2
Beyond Sunrise is Candice Proctor letting her hair down and inviting her readers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. "Fun" isn't descriptive enough a word to describe this book, but that's what this book offers in spades: fun, fun, and more fun. This rollicking road trip adventure through the sunny tropics of the South Pacific islands truly come to life under this author's vividly descriptive prose, the two main characters are really enjoyable to follow, and there are enough emotional poignancy to round off a truly entertaining read that is this book.
Our heroine India McKnight is a Victorian-era explorer and writer. While not exactly Indiana Jones, she is practical, tough, and smart. Her latest project is to study some fascinating rock structures on Takaku Island. However, that island is said to be populated by cannibals, and nobody wants to sail her there. Until a man, Captain Simon Granger, suggests that she seeks out infamous Jack Ryder. Jack knows the islands very well, but he's an Australian seaman wanted by the British. Little does India know that Simon Granger is the man on Jack's tail, Jevert to Jack's ignoble and foul-mouthed Jean Valjean. Jack and India dislike each other at sight (although he's a big fan of her books - ssssh - and once imagined how nice it would be if he met her - shut up), but they are soon plunged in adventures after adventures like the best of romantic swashbuckling couples.
Jack starts off like a stereotypical Romancing The Stone explorer rogue wannabe, but he soon comes into his own character perfectly. He can cuss and he can be rude and naughty, but when he lays on that charm, oh my, I think my heart skipped maybe a beat once there. India starts out like those prickly frigid heroine stereotypes, but soon she proves that she has a functional brain. I soon warm up to her. These two characters will come up lacking in terms of character depths when compared to some of this author's meatier books, but they are more than adequate here. The late quarter of the book, especially, convinces me that these two have more than lust going on between them.
The author has a vivid sense of description, and here, the South Pacific Islands really come to life. The author creates panoramas with ease, and when the characters flee for their lives down narrow and slippery fern-covered mountain trails, I could feel the adrenaline surging in my own body in response. Beyond Sunrise is non-stop exciting romantic adventure starring a sexy rugged hero and a charming heroine. The fact that these characters are very well-written only add to the enjoyable experience. My attention and emotions are fully engaged, and I have too much enjoyment living out Candice Proctor's adventures with Jack and India not to give this book the keeper status it truly deserves.
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