Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: The Unlikely Master Genius

The Unlikely Master Genius The Unlikely Master Genius by Carla Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sailing Master Able Six is a savant, a man with a beautiful mind and a lowly beginning. He's a true polymath, but a bastard raised in a Scottish workhouse doesn't have the connections needed in Regency England to allow him to fully use his gifts. However, some of his former captains know his worth and have encouraged Able to teach at St. Brendan the Navigator School, where poor boys like him have a chance to advance themselves by serving in the Royal Navy.

You're going to need your hankies. When Carla Kelly writes a book about boys being trained for battle during the Napoleonic Wars, you can't say you didn't know what to expect. However, it's a gentle love story about a man who could easily go insane from a mind that won't shut down and the woman who nurtures his soul. It's also about lost boys. As much as we Americans view the Royal Navy during the War of 1812 as a place of floggings and impressment, for some boys and men it was an opportunity to advance themselves, and to be fed on a regular basis.

Able and Meridee are introduced in the short story "The Christmas Angle", and this is the first of the St. Brendan novels. One of the joys of a Carla Kelly Regency is that it's about people who are not powerful or privileged. It's about everyday people being good, though Able's far from ordinary and Meridee's quite extraordinary for loving him and appreciating him.

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