Grace A. Johnson
Review: The Sugar Baron's Governess by Elva Cobb Martin
Synopsis: Widow Abigail Welch has journeyed from Charleston, South Carolina to Jamaica for a fresh start as a governess for a sugar plantation owner, Mr. Joshua Beckett. But when her voyage is disrupted by pirates, and she’s “rescued” by a mysterious Captain Jay, Abigail discovers her new life may be fraught with more danger—and romance—than she realized.
What I Loved: Naturally, I loved being transported back to Jamaica during era of revolutions, rebellions, and roving seamen. Gotta love pirate—excuse me, privateer books, am I right?
The setting was portrayed well, although I felt like the story didn’t afford much time for dwelling on the setting itself (I’ll get to that later, though). And I loved the tidbits of history and culture—like the Maroons—sprinkled throughout! Speaking of culture, slavery was handled so well, in my opinion! No blatant hate toward slave owners, no disregard for the slaves themselves—the perfect balance. Plus the inclusion of Isaiah, a freedman who owned slaves himself, was so nice to have! Many people forget—or simply don’t know—how many people of color (especially women of color) owned slaves of various ethnicities in the Caribbean and beyond.
The writing was also well-done—vivid but with simple descriptions. Perfectly balanced for every reader to enjoy.
Of course, my favorite part was the authentic faith woven in! The redemption arc could’ve used some work (again, more on that in a bit), but the themes and messages were lovely, and the Christian content was subtle but natural!
Also, I know y’all are wondering...what did I think of Abigail and Joshua? Well, first things first: Abigail wasn’t annoying or obnoxious or constantly undermining everyone’s authority and causing conflict. What breath of fresh air!
What I Didn’t Love: I personally felt like Abigail didn’t have much personality—and there were times where she seemed more like a naïve debutante than a mature widow/mother, which caused some head shaking on my part.
As for Joshua, I wanted so desperately to like him! A prodigal son turned privateer and plantation owner? Sounds perfect, if you ask me! But unfortunately, I felt like his character wasn’t fully developed, and as much as I love a good redemption arc, it wasn’t as fleshed out as I would’ve like either. Had Joshua been given more page time and we could’ve seen more of who he was and how he thought and what he did, I think it would’ve been lovely! As it is, it was rather rushed.
In fact, I feel like there was a lot of the story that was rushed—especially the ending—and certain things I wanted to see were just brushed over. Like Abigail teaching and caring for Jade. Or Joshua being piratey. Or him becoming a true father to his daughter. Things like that, which would’ve given the story more character and life.
On that note, because there wasn’t a lot of build-up, there were incidents that felt anti-climatic as well, and characters like Mark and Lady Harcourt seemed more like plot devices than meaningful, developed characters.
Long Story Short: All of that said, there were some great minor characters, lovely themes, and intriguing premises in The Sugar Baron’s Governess! I know readers of the previous books in the series will love seeing Joshua redeemed—and new readers like myself will be pulled into the story regardless of being new to the series! Had it simply been longer and more developed, it would’ve been perfect!
Fans of MaryLu Tyndall (especially the Pirate Earl, who also led two lives *winks*) will love this story, and readers of historical romance and pirate novels will certainly enjoy it! I personally would like to give the earlier books a try and see what I think of Marisol, Ethan, Samuel, and John’s stories!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the author through Celebrate Lit Publicity. All opinions expressed are my own.
about the book
She needs a new start…He knows a reckoning is coming.
Banished from Charleston for his misdeeds years earlier, Joshua Becket built a new life on both sides of the law in Jamaica. As sugar plantation owner and member of the governing British Assembly, he’s known and respected on the island. But he guards a secret identity. As swashbuckling Captain Jay, he leads daredevil privateering exploits on his ship, the Eagle, when the mood suits him. Currently, he needs a governess for his young daughter whose mother has passed.
Widowed gentlewoman Abigail Welch accepted the governess position, leaving behind her disintegrated life in Charleston. This new start in Jamaica might finally help her find healing for her broken heart after losing her husband in the Revolution and their infant son to yellow fever.
Joshua’s precocious, undisciplined daughter is the drawing card that brings him and Abigail together like clashing cymbals of disagreement…and fiery attraction. Can love and the miracle power of God give them a new beginning and a happily ever after?
The Sugar Baron's Governess is a Christian historical romance that released August 23rd, 2022.
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about the author
Elva Cobb Martin is a wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in South Carolina with her husband and a mini-dachshund. A life-long student of history, her favorite city, Charleston, inspires her stories of romance and adventure. Her love of writing grew out of a desire to share exciting stories of courageous characters and communicate truths of the Christian faith to bring hope and encouragement. Connect with her on her web site at www.elvamartin.com.
a word from the author
I had an amazing thing happen when first beginning The Sugar Baron’s Governess. My precious husband had booked a week for us in a comfortable condo at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to help me concentrate on my plotstorming—without the “do me” call of our vacuum, washing machine, or phone calls when at home. Of course, he likes to fish from a pier while I’m writing.
The first morning I sat at the kitchen table overlooking the Atlantic, with my laptop, researching Jamaica and especially the historic Maroon settlement of warriors and escaped slaves in the mountains that could play a part in my story. I was also praying for the Lord to help get a good start on this fourth novel in my series. Should I even be including the fierce Maroons in my plot?
A knock came at the door. I had requested no room service, so I was surprised to be interrupted. When I answered it, a black male employee asked if we needed any cleaning done or fresh linens. I almost gave him a short answer, wanting to get back to my laptop, but my ear discerned a British accent. –Here’s our amazing conversation:
“Where are you from?”
I opened the door wide and invited him in. “That’s most interesting. I’m writing a novel set in Jamaica.”
His eyes widened. “You are?”
“Yes, in fact,” I gestured to my laptop, “I’m right now researching a group of warriors in historic Jamaica, called the Maroons. Know anything about them?”
His mouth fell open. “I’m a descendant of the Maroons.”
I got a tingling chill up my arm. How likely was this kind of thing to happen? He further told me he never worked the 15th floor but for whatever reason, had been assigned our floor that day. He told me was a Christian, and he shared several things with me about the Maroons and how they finally won their independence and rights the British government of Jamaica had long withheld. At times, because of their desperate existence, they did hurtle down from their mountain strongholds and burn sugar plantations, as history records.
I decided I had a definite confirmation to include the Maroon warriors in my Jamaican story. They are instrumental in convincing my hero Joshua Becket to turn back to God when his life and plantation are sorely threatened. Whoops, there I go giving away some of the story! Hope you enjoy Joshua and Abigail’s exciting, romantic adventure in Jamaica. Can they survive and make it back to Charleston and a happily ever after?
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 23
Texas Book-aholic, August 24
For Him and My Family, August 25
deb’s Book Review, August 26
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 27
Inklings and notions, August 28
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 29
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 30
Connie’s History Classroom, August 31
Holly’s Book Corner, August 31
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 1
Betti Mace, September 2
Pause for Tales, September 3
A Good Book and Cup of Tea, September 4
Beauty in the Binding, September 5 (Author Interview)
Of Blades and Thorns, September 5
Y'all! Wasn't Mrs. Martin's story about the condo employee and the Maroons AMAZING?! It just goes to show how God really does care about our stories and He certainly answers our prayers!
Y'all be sure to check out the other posts in the tour (they're all available since I'm the last one to go up), and don't forget - with every Celebrate Lit tour, there's sure to be an epic giveaway!!
This time, Mrs. Martin's giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner! Y'all can enter HERE, and gain more entries by commenting on all the tour posts! May the odds be ever in your favor, mon amies!
yours in spirit and script,
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