Reluctant Voyager by Katrina Britt - 1973 ****
Katrina Britt is another old favourite of mine. This story is about Freya who has had a bad year after a failed love affair twelve months ago that left her depressed and run down. A nasty bout of flu and her Stepfather decides to send her on a cruise to recuperate. While on the cruise she can drop in and see her old childhood friend who is an archeologist in Northern Africa. She is also going to see her stepsister's B.I.L. who asked her to marry him after they met at their siblings wedding.
In an attempt to get her life back on track, Freya is seriously considering accepting his proposal. She doesn't love him but thinks a life travelling with a diplomat husband and having children will help her get over her lost love.
Such a pity then that the Captain of the cruise ship turns out to be the man her sister warned her off twelve months ago. Derek Leighton, who charmed Freya's sister then dumped her. Derek of course couldn't quite figure out why Freya ignored his letters when he had to return to his ship. Or why she insisted on treating him like some gay philanderer.
Having totally alienated the handsome Captain, it was rather upsetting for Freya to realise that her feelings for Derek had not changed one little bit. In fact as she got to know him better on the ship, she fell even more deeply in love. But he seemed quite immune, assuming she would marry Sebastian the B.I.L., while he paid more than a little attention to the lovely Moira, the estranged wife of Derek's cousin.
A tragedy complicates the last days of the cruise and it takes some sorting out of the complicated love lives of the various protagonists before our heroine finally gets her HEA.
There is something particular appealing about sea voyage books for me. I've never been on a cruise and at this point in time it seems unlikely I ever shall. But I love the atmosphere conveyed in these older vintages. Who doesn't love a man in uniform.
Alpine Rhapsody by Elizabeth Ashton - 1973 ****
Elizabeth Ashton is an author I've always loved. Her Crown of Willow was one of the very first Mills & Boon books I read in the seventies.
This is a story about Eve, a young woman who was barely existing. Having lost everything she valued, her fiance and her career, in one stroke, she feels justified in wallowing in her misery.
When she meets Max Linden, she starts to come back to life but it is a painful journey in some ways. She has to learn the truth about her fiance which is disillusioning. There is also the first step back into the world of music she had to leave behind after her injury.
Finally there is Max, who is tied to a lovely young woman who is in a much worse situation than Eve. Totally blind and seemingly devoted to Max.
The journey Eve travels isn't easy but when everything comes clear at the end, the solution is perfect.
This is a lovely read set in Switzerland and Austria. The hero is adorable and the heroine grows and changes over the period of the book.
Mountain Heritage by Elizabeth Ashton - 1976 ****
Mea Marlow met Lucian Becker when she came to join her recently widowed mother in Switzerland after leaving school. Lucian is rich and charming and shares Mea's passion for mountain climbing. But her mother seems to have earmarked him as her own property.
There are complications that involve her stepfather's will, an arranged marriage, an inheritance, and a very selfish mother.
To top things off, Mea finally learns the identity of her real father which explains quite a lot about why she and her mother are so unlike.
Lucian is a lovely hero, very determined in the most charming way. But Mea, still childishly angry with her stepfather, allows her resentment to push him away.
The ending is nicely tied up, with a satisfying resolution for both parents and hero and heroine. A very enjoyable read.
Master at Arms by Betty Beaty - 1977 ****
This is a very sweet little romance by an author more well known for writing about airline stewardess romances. Kate Cameron is working on a cruise ship, specialising in school excursions to the Mediterranean. Her job is to supervise school groups and be a kind of parental substitute on the two week cruise.
She gets into trouble almost immediately with the powerfully built, bearded, Chief Officer, when she fails to report a stowaway in time to remove him from the ship. More trouble ensues when one of the school teachers turns out to be her ex-fiance who insists on being friendly.
Not that it should matter because said Chief Officer Mark Templar, is being pursued by an attractive 1st class cabin passenger, and doesn't seem to mind at all. Yet somehow the two keep meeting up. Usually when Kate is in trouble. If she had any regrets about her ex-fiance they were certainly put to bed once she realised just how different and strong were her feelings for Mark Templar.
The story has no great highs or lows but is very realistic in the feeling portrayed by the heroine and the heroine. I thoroughly enjoyed the story even the second time round.