Miss Whittier Makes a List
In the early 1800s, seventeen-year-old Hannah Whittier is traveling by ship down the coast from her Quaker home in Massachusetts to her brother's house in Charleston, South Carolina. To while away the dull hours, Hannah composes a list of qualities she wants in a husband. Boredom will soon be the least of her worries.
First the Molly Claridge is boarded by the British frigate, H.M.S. Dissuade, and forced to turn over any supposed Englishmen. Later the American vessel is blown out of the water by a French man o'war. After a long, harrowing day clinging to a grate and battered by the sun, Hannah is fished out of the water by the Dissuade and forced to sail toward England with the British crew and its imperious yet devilishly handsome captain, Sir Daniel Spark.
Proper young Quakeress Hannah locks horns with salty Captain Spark, who expects her to carry her weight by helping their cook and keeping watch. The captain has none of the qualities on Hannah's list, so why is she so drawn to him? Could it be that loyalty and valor are more important than mild manners and patience? Hannah learns that Captain Spark has fought valiantly in England's naval battles against France, and she sympathizes with his weariness in the face of so much death and destruction.
Captain Spark in turn values Hannah's lively spirit and positive attitude. And, despite her tanned skin and cabin boy attire, Hannah presents quite a temptation to the captain who has been too long at sea. Now, if only they can make it to England in one piece.
Everyone, go out and buy Miss Whittier Makes a List. Right now .. Ms. Kelly always brings an extraordinary magic to both the prosaic and the unusual. -- Jean Wan, All About Romance
Regency fans who like superior, well-written romances and the Age of Sail will enjoy this book. This reprint from 1994 by a multi-published, award-winning author will be a treat for those who have not already read it. -- Historical Novel Society
Miss Hannah Whitney is the youngest child--and only daughter--of a Quaker family of Nantucket, Massachusetts. She's on her way to Charleston, South Carolina, where her brother Hosea has opened a branch of the family mercantile. She plans to help her sister-in-law when the new baby comes. Hannah's on board a ship out of Boston that is stopped and boarded by men from a British frigate, the HMS Dissuade . The captain impresses British deserters, as well as two Americans, to fill the empty slots in his crew caused by an attack by a French war ship. The captain doesn't sail away, however, until he gets a sharp dressing down from an angry Hannah. Hiding his amusement, he warns the Americans to watch out for the French, and then sails away, allowing the American vessel to continue on. But the Yankees are not out of danger yet. Their ship is later attacked and sunk by the French, who didn't bother to identify their target as American neutrals in their war with the British. All are lost but Hannah, who survives thanks in part to her father for teaching her to swim, and a grate from the ship for her to float upon. She is alone in the sea. Some time later, a thirsty and badly sunburned Hannah comes around to face the stern captain of the Dissuade . It appears she has been rescued from the sea and is on her way to England.
Captain Sir Daniel Spark runs a tight ship with a disciplined crew. He began his naval career at ten years and worked his way up. He is hard but fair; perhaps along the way he's forgotten how to smile. Hannah is not a meek and mild Quaker lass, and even before she recovers from her ordeal, she's annoying the captain. Anything can happen in the weeks that follow their planned voyage to England. Time will see Hannah peeling potatoes and climbing the rigging to the look out, and that's the easy part.
Two people could hardly be more different--the captain has none of the desirable traits in a husband that are on the list Hannah made at the start of her voyage. And yet this innocent maiden and the man of war begin to see the good in each other. Not that anything would ever come of that.
I wish I had the words to really give the flavor of this remarkable novel. I can start by saying that I had a smile on my face almost through the whole of it. Hannah is the most delightful creature who never hesitates to speak her mind. The captain is stern and reserved, and while no one could honestly call him a softy beneath it all, we begin to see the whole man. Still, there appears to be no future ahead for the two, even after they survive more dangers. Their personalities and lives, their nationalities and cultures are too far apart.
Even with a suspenseful plot, MISS WHITTIER MAKES A LIST is a fun book. Many minor characters add entertainment and sympathy to the whole. I highly recommend this lovely tale to you.
Carla Kelly has always been a favorite Regency author, and plans are in the works to bring out more of her out of print Regencies and historicals in both print and digital formats. Lucky us! -- Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today
Carla Kelly's Regency Romances are always superb and a timeless delight. -- Romantic Times
Read an Excerpt
The impressed seamen were quickly bundled over the side and hauled up onto the other deck. Captain Winslow dropped to his knees and wept, his head in his hands. It was more than Hannah could bear. She jumped up again and ran to the British captain, who waited to reboard his vessel. She grabbed his arms and tried to pull him around.
"Thee cannot do this! Have we no rights?" She tugged his arm, but he was anchored fast to the deck and would not budge.
"You have no rights," he said quietly. "None whatsoever. You belong to an impertinent nation that will soon be a failed experiment. Let go of my arm."
She did as he said and wiped her streaming eyes with her sleeve. "I wish thee to hell, sir," she said, her voice as quiet as his and more fierce.
"Well I won't go, Miss Spitfire," he replied.
To her utter amazement, he grabbed her by the mass of hair on the back of her neck, hauled her close, picked her up, and kissed her. Her feet dangled off the deck and she grabbed onto him to take the pain off her hair, while he kissed her once, and then again more thoroughly. She clung to him, her head on fire, and tried to speak, even as he kissed her a third time, completely in command of the situation. Wild-eyed with fury, she stared at him, noting even in her rage how improbably long his eyelashes were. His eyes were closed, and he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
And then it was over. He set her back on the deck and released her hair. "I haven't had that pleasure in two years," he said softly. He stepped aside quickly in case she should strike out. "May I add that you needn't improve upon a fine thing?"
He sprang to the railing, his arm draped gracefully in the rigging to maintain his balance, and then leaped across the space between the ships as his men laughed and cheered.
"Release the grappling hooks," he ordered, and then looked at his first mate, who wiped tears of laughter from his eyes. "Wear the ship, Mr. Lansing, lively now."
As she watched in total humiliation and stunning fury, the sailors on the opposite ship grinned at her and released the grapples from the Molly's mutilated railing. The vessels moved apart quickly.