My rating: Beach vacation (3/5)
I tracked down Beyond Sunrise after realizing Candice Proctor is also the wonderful author, C.S. Harris (of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries). I had no idea that Harris also wrote historical romances under another name, so I had to check one out considering how obsessed I am with the St. Cyr series. While there was a lot to like in Beyond Sunrise I do think the author’s mystery series is much stronger.
India McKnight is a travel writer and she has come to the South Pacific to work on a new piece. Unluckily, India stumbles into a bit of a trap that’s been set for reluctant guide, Jack Ryder, who is a wanted man. When she’s taken hostage by the brash Jack she soon learns there’s more to the events that have put a price on Jack’s head, and there’s much more behind that man’s careless smile.
For his part, Jack’s not all that thrilled to be dragging India around. He’s not a fan of her prim and spinsterish ways, but like India learns about him, Jack also discovers that there’s more to India than she appears on first meeting. Thankfully for both of them, the British navy and cannibals are hunting them down, forcing the pair into closer contact. The more time they spend together, the more they realize that the other might just be what they are looking for.
Overall, I thought Beyond Sunrise was a nice beach read. I’m happy to have read it, but I don’t think it’s one that will stick out in my memory. What I did like was the sense of adventure and exotic locale that was part of Beyond Sunrise. Readers were treated to a great setting and with this author, it was more than window dressing. One of the things I love most about the St. Cyr mysteries is the rich historical London setting; Harris does an amazing job of conveying daily life in the Regency era. This sense of place is no different in Beyond Sunrise. The setting was lush and exotic and it became part of the story in Beyond Sunrise.
India and Jack were both interesting characters, and their bantering dynamic was amusing, and reminded me of several movies that I’ve included at the end of this post. India especially was an interesting character. In a lot of ways she reminded me of Hero from the St. Cyr series, which I liked. She also reminded me of Amity, also a travel writer, from Amanda Quick’s Otherwise Engaged. However, when I finished the book I realized the characters both seemed a little one dimensional, which was disappointing because I find Harris’ characters from St. Cyr to be so well developed. For both India and Jack I found that certain things from their past were just dropped in to make them seem like they had more depth, but in each case these past experiences weren’t used to their full effect. I’ll go into that, so be warned, spoilers ahead.
With India, it’s stated on a number of occasions that she lost her virginity just because her rational mind wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Okay, that’s fine. But I felt that that experience kept being used by India as something that’s made her the way she is and how she views relationships. The reader never finds out more about this apparently defining moment in India’s life, so in a way I question how important this really was to India, making me think she’s more of a flat character. I applaud the author for not making India’s past relationship a big deal in her new one, but I did feel that it would have made sense to be explored a bit more.
Now with Jack his past was explored a little bit more. He had a wife and daughter and when the navy came to retrieve him after learning that he was alive after falling over board, his wife was killed. In his guilt, Jack leaves his daughter behind and goes on the run. In this sense, I think that Jack was a better developed character than India, that is, until he is reunited with his daughter. To me, this is kind of a big deal and Jack keeps saying it’s a big deal, but there was never a heart-to-heart between the two. I never really felt that there was a connection between father and daughter, and I was disappointed in this since it didn’t seem to ring true for the character.
Ultimately, I liked Beyond Sunrise. The exotic location was great and it really became part of the story. What didn’t work for me was the characters. Both Jack and India were fun, but they lacked depth. I still recommend it, it’s a great book to read this summer if you don’t get to go on vacation (armchair travel, if you will), but I wouldn’t go in expecting the level of detail that some romances go into.
Read a book, watch a movie
When reading Beyond Sunrise I couldn’t help but be reminded of several movies. The back and forth bantering between India and Jack, combined with the exotic locale reminded me of three of my favourites. Watch them if you haven’t already.