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The Queen’s Captain by Margaret Hope arrived in a box from my mother’s attic. A huge box filled with Masquerade Historicals and Harlequin Romances when they were prized at 60 cents.

The Queens Captain

Consider this a reading case study. I’d call it an auto-ethnography, but, ew.

Phase I. I find the book in a box of books. They’re all vintage, which means all cock-blockers. There will be no sex, and if there’s any kissing to speak of, there will be no tongue.

Shameful.

Phase II. I find this particular book and read the inside flap.

Get to work, lad, or I’ll whip you.

Phase III. I remember a thread on Goodreads. One of those threads where a reader looks to the group for help to remember a title. The title this reader wanted to remember had a delicious scene where the heroine, disguised as a man, gets flogged by the hero. Flogged. Right there on the deck of the ship. The ship’s crew knows she’s a woman, but has been keeping the secret from the captain. They watch her flogged, unable to do anything about it, because there is no mutiny on a ship. The captain reigns supreme in only the way a captain can. (Note to self.) Then, when the captain discovers the man is a maid, the laments that follow are sweeter for the beating.

I think I’ve found that book.

I was so excited, it took me a few weeks to pick it up. When I did, I put it down again. Another week before I picked it up again. The anticipation bordered on dread. I was that titillated.

Phase IV. I forget utterly that this is a Harlequin line from 1979. It wasn’t until the heroine had escaped the ship unflogged that I’d realized my mistake.

What follows is an altogether different reading experience than I’d hoped for, but one I would recommend nonetheless. Margaret Hope may not have allowed her captain to flog the heroine, but she did so much research that I learned a few things about the Defeat of the Spanish Armada and the Battle of Gravelines.

Plus, Hope’s sentence structure is outstanding.

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