The itinerary looks promising, but the excursions are disappointing in MacAlister’s (Time Thief, 2013, etc.) contemporary romance set on a cruise ship—the first book in the Ainslie Brothers series.
A broken engagement shouldn’t stop Alice Wood from enjoying her honeymoon cruise by herself. Unfortunately, the ship is much smaller than it looked in the brochures, and when the groom gives away his ticket to a friend, Alice is stuck in very close quarters with Elliott Ainslie, the eighth baron of a crumbling English estate who somehow supports his eleven siblings with his career as a novelist and needs time alone to write. Their trip will take them along the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers and straight into the Port of Missed Opportunities. At a coffeehouse in Amsterdam that’s known for serving marijuana, they don’t inhale anything beyond secondhand smoke and then claim to have hangovers the next day. At a sex club in Germany, they check into a pirate-themed room but have to leave early when Elliott gets stuck in a torture device before he has a chance to experience the parrot-shaped nipple clamps. Whereas Alice charms with kooky dialogue—“Now you’re my prisoner, Lord Hunkybuns”—Elliott sounds stilted with his flowery speeches (“I want to be with you for all the days that remain to me”) and his questionable British accent (“A gull tried to eat my shoe earlier today. It was most amusing”). Even less convincing is Alice’s theory that Elliott is a spy. Despite living inches away from Elliott’s side of the cabin, Alice asks him very few questions about his supposed work. She doesn’t have much evidence to go on until the other passengers finally reveal what’s been happening right under her nose. But love prevails, and Elliott’s brother Gunner should be the next in line to find a bride.
A meandering plot detracts from a quirky, enjoyable voice.