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Beau Crusoe (Mills & Boon Historical) Paperback – 1 Nov 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon (1 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0263852040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0263852042
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.9 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,009,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By StarPlayer on 19 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Stranded alone on a desert island, James Trevenen - hailed as Beau Crusoe - has lived to tell the tale. A triumphant return to England sees him feated as a hero, a gentleman of spirit, vigour and action. But only he knows the true cost of his survival.

Susannah Park had been shunned by Society. She lived content with her calm existence.... until Beau Crusoe turns up to reside with her family for two weeks. The beautiful widow wanted to help him heal the wounds of the past - but what secrets was this glorious man hiding?

I'm not a great reader of Mills & Boons as their formulaic writing style does nothing for me. However this book is the exception.

What a lovely, well written story. Honestly, everything about it says it should be a stupid book but it isn't. I never thought I'd see the day when I would give M&Bs 4 or more stars. I'm going to what else Carla Kelly has out there in book land.

This turned out to be a very tender and interesting tale. Well worth a read.
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By Doodler on 23 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
I bought this because I had enjoyed a Christmas collection by the same author and because of the five star rating given by a previous reviewer. As they described, it is not the usual M&B story and I did find it well written, funny and refreshing. Still, I feel it does need to come with a warning. Some sex scenes (unrelated to the heroine) I found acutely distasteful. And the storyline about cannibalism, while I do not doubt the truth behind it, was sometimes a little too graphic for me. However, I loved both the hero, heroine and heroine's son. Their 'adventures' are perhaps a little trite and need to be taken tongue in cheek, and historical accuracy is sometimes rather lacking, but overall this was an enjoyable contrast to the usual formulaic romance. I will certainly be looking for more books by the same author.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 69 reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
wonderfully satisfying and worthwhile read 21 Mar. 2007
By tregatt - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Every now and then I read a romance novel that makes me realise the extent to which I've settled, so that I will accept a competently written novel with relatively few flaws and raise it to the status of an exceptional novel. Carla Kelly's "Beau Crusoe" hit this realisation home once again. I'm not saying I won't make this mistake again and again, in the months to come, but for now I'm basking in the satisfaction of having read a romance novel that satisfied on EVERY LEVEL -- a good story, brilliantly fleshed out with characters that were engaging and that made me care and a romance subplot that just had me rooting for the couple from beginning to end.

A beautiful and sweet natured young widow, Susannah Park has spent the last few years of her life living quietly with her young son, Noah, at her parents' home. The trouble is that Susannah had eloped with the man she loved to India, where tragically, her young husband died, leaving Susanna all alone (but for Noah), penniless and with a tarnished reputation. Another sad result of her elopement is her estrangement from her elder sister, Loisa, who holds Susannah responsible for her lack of marriage offers. Susannah's life is far from ideal, but she soldiers on, maintaining a cheerful demeanor and taking comfort and joy from Noah and her godparents, who live in the neighbouring estate. Little does Susannah realise however how much her life is about to change with the arrival of James Trevenen. The first mate of the Orion, which sank six years ago, Trevenen was the only man to survive and lived for 5 years on a deserted island, where, in order to keep his sanity, he spent his time observing the crabs on the island. Now, back in England, Trevenen is about to be presented a medal by the Royal Society for his work. Susannah's godfather, however, has given Trevenen a few further tasks -- that of sorting things out in Susannah's eccentric household and marrying Susannah himself. Trevenen has no intention of marrying, but the sweet-natured Susannah is rather making him wish that he was free to marry, and to marry her...

"Beau Crusoe" was a truly unexpected treat -- I really didn't expect to have the good fortune to read a new, well written, romance novel just now (I do not include the Georgette Heyer reprints in this category). And really how could anyone find fault with a good story well told (no oft repeated and tired plot devices or plot motifs), and peopled with well realised characters (in other words, no heroes or heroines who act rashly and temperamentally and just make you tug your hair in frustration)? "Beau Crusoe" was just pure pleasure to read from beginning to end -- there was just so much to enjoy and to find one's attention engaged by. Like the romance subplot between Susannah and Trevenen: I thought that the author did a really good job of developing the relationship between these two, making the romance that blossoms between them believable and so making it for one to root for them to achieve their happily ever after ending. Also well done was how the author resolved things between the two sisters, how she depicted the relationship between Trevenen and Noah. It is not always so easy to portray relationships between adults and children, and I thought that Ms Kelly did a first rate job. Perhaps "Beau Crusoe" may not be the most. I could go on and on, rhapsodizing about this book, instead I'll just end by urging romance readers who are looking for something truly good and worthwhile, that strikes all the right notes and that doesn't possess characters or plot devices that makes you sigh with exasperation, to give "Beau Crusoe" a go. You won't regret it.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Worth reading 11 Mar. 2007
By grerp - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many other readers, I've been waiting for Carla Kelly's newest full-length novel, Beau Crusoe, since I finished The Wedding Journey in 2002 , already almost five years ago (!). It's been too long.


Stranded alone on a desert island, he had lived to tell the tale. A triumphant return to the ton saw James Trevanen hailed as Beau Crusoe - a gentleman of spirit, verve and action. But only he knew the true cost of his survival!


Susannah Park had been shunned by Society. She lived content with her calm existence...until Beau Crusoe determinedly cut up her peace! The beautiful widow wanted to help him heal the wounds of the past - but what secrets was this glorious man hiding?

From this back cover blurb, I was expecting a little lighter Kelly reading experience than what I got. Yes, the blurb says, "Shipwrecked!" but it also says, "triumphant return." And while triumphant return is technically accurate, as James is being awarded a prestigious medal for his scientific observations about a certain type of fiddler crab found on his island, James himself is hardly triumphant. More like hanging on to his sanity by his fingertips. He was alone on that island for five years. All alone fighting starvation and memories of a bitter survival process. This guy has BAGGAGE.

By contrast, the blurb makes Susannah sound a bit more of a pariah than she actually is. No, she isn't received into society due to her youthful indiscretion of eloping with a man far her social inferior, but she doesn't actually care much about that. She's basically at peace with her life as an artist living with a young son, she only wishes her family - and especially her sister, Loisa - could forgive her. And a little financial security would be nice.

While I can't say I regret reading, or even buying, Beau Crusoe, the book does have a number of problems. Kelly throws James and Susannah together by a piece of family manipulation. Susannah's godfather is to host James in London before the awards ceremony, but he uses his gout as an excuse to place James in Susannah's parents' house instead, effecting an introduction to his goddaughter. From the initial introduction, the two of them are off and running, both of them acknowledging that isn't not quite de rigeur for her to chaperone him around as an unmarried, albeit widowed, woman, but using any opportunity to snuggle each other. One or two indiscretions could be overlooked, but James and Susannah kiss in public and wander the house in the middle of the night. She enters his room and stays there - or invites him to her room - when he's struggling with his midnight demons. All of this is highly irregular, and the servants would have noticed and noted. Susannah's widow status would have only given her so much wiggle room; certainly not this much.

Secondly, Kelly resolves Susannah's conflict with her bitter and prickly sister, Loisa, far too neatly. At the beginning of the novel Loisa is awful, the kind of woman who would torment her young nephew as an outlet for her own unhappiness. She is judgmental, sour, and unkind. But all of her character flaws disappear and forgiveness magically emerges after James gives her a small task to do and points out a few home truths. Loisa then finds her own love, a love that presents quite a few challenges for the future, the reader must note.

Finally, there is the problem of Lady Audley, James's former lover. Kelly draws her as an evil nympho, presumably to shrug the blame off of James for his part in committing adultery. She adds nothing to the book except a rather forced plot climax and (an obligatory?) second love scene. It would have been preferable if James's "love" scenes with her had been behind closed doors: whenever he remembers her or thinks of her, his language turns raunchy and crude.

However, despite the above problems, I still can recommend this book. Kelly's clear narrative voice is fully present in Beau Crusoe as is her talent for wringing emotion out of the reader. James's backstory is throat-wrenchingly awful, a true tragedy, and the reader really feels how he suffered on his island and suffers now. His is a touching portrayal of PTSD complete with irrational fears, panic attacks, and an inability to be normal at times. You rarely see actual mental illness in romance, and James's is quite horrible and authentic.

Susannah is a less robust character, but a good match for James, quiet and soft and warm and completely accepting. You can see how being with her would be healing for him, and he needs desperately to be healed.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book from a talented author, warmer than usual in the sensuality department. Readers who want kisses only sensuality from Carla Kelly might be disappointed, but those of us who just want a good story will not.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
No mixed feelings about this much-anticipated addition to a wonderful collection of books! 3 Mar. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am writing this review, not just because this book moved me to do so, but also to respond an earlier review.

I too love Carla Kelly's books...she is an automatic buy and will continue to be one...her books are definitely "keepers" in my library and are well worn from repeated readings. This book is no exception. Although, I do admit to some trepidation when I realized what the "secret" troubling James was. It's easy to discern fairly early in the book what is "haunting" James and I was not sure how this would play in a romance. But, once again, Ms. Kelly takes a subject that's hard to even think about and imbues it with grace and compassion. Her celebration of life and humanity, with all its challenges and triumphs, shortcomings and virtues, darkness and light, is once again seen here in Beau Crusoe. The main characters, James and Susannah, are instantly likable and fun to watch as their relationship develops. They both are quiet, humorous, and self-effacing with a strength they don't seem to recognize until they see it in each other. There is laughter with the tears as they find in themselves the strength they thought was missing. They have each met and mastered seemly insurmountable obstacles, but it is together that they become whole.

The love scenes in Beau Crusoe are more mature than her previous books with a little more description, but are warm, tender, and tasteful. Her books have always taken a healthy position when it comes to the physical side of love...this is just a little "healthier"...and I for one loved it!

Where I disagree with an earlier review of this book is in the handling of the scenes between James and Lady Audley (the adulterous nymphomaniac). I don't see their interactions as trashy or wasted space in this story. In fact, I believe what happened between them is important in understanding James. Ugly it may have been, but it was also reflective of his mental state at the time. Yes, it was ugly, and there should be no sugar-coating of it. The narratives describing it were not lurid or exploitive, but helped to make me feel how shameful and shamed James was by the experience. I have been unfortunate to have read some pretty awful "sex solely for gratification" scenes in books and these were actually very, very mild in comparison.

Well that's my opinion, for what it's worth, on another truly wonderful romance by Carla Kelly. Thank you Ms. Kelly for once again making me laugh, cry, and sigh through to the last page!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Mum, it was a bit racy...but it's you, so I love it! 26 Jun. 2007
By E. A. Elliott - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Truthfully, it's not my favorite book. That honor is held in rotation by "Miss Whittier Makes a List" and "Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand". But the fact that Mrs. Kelly (my Mum) can branch out into something a bit more risque than her usual prim and proper "regencies" speaks volumes about her ability to adapt. I have the distinct privilige of working at a high-traffic book store and can say first-hand how much more often we sell those "bodice rippers", or as Mum and I call them, "literary porn". Yes, it's true that in her past books, any reference to sex at all was subtle and "correct". However, the fact is, my mum adapted to a new publisher who asked her to go just a bit farther. While reading it, Mum, I often wondered if you were comfortable with what you had produced, but the big picture remains that it is a novel with some lovely characters in it (something you've always been top-notch with), a sometimes morbid, yet gripping plot and a satisfactory ending. None of those silly, flippant females one encounters so often in other novels. Mum, others may "elevate their slender noses" at you for your foray into a more sexual territory, but I'm just pleased that you were able to (again) do something new. I look forward to hearing about the upcoming new ones (oh, I do miss reading over your shoulder!), and wish you a heartfelt congratulations on your soon-to-be-former status at the TR. I love and miss you! And, Mary Ruth, I had to turn on the fan too! ;)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant 15 Mar. 2007
By Just Passing Through - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Stranded alone on a desert island for five years, Lieutenant James Trevenen focused his attention on an indigenous species of fiddler crab as a way to keep his sanity. After his rescue and return to England, he documented his observations on the crabs (the Gloriosa Jubilate, as he familiarly named them) in a treatise that was greeted with great acclaim. When Trevenen is invited to London to receive an award from the Royal Society, his would-be host, Sir Joseph Banks, is ill with gout and puts Trevenen in the care of his dotty neighbor, Lord Watchmere.

The Watchmere household is in a state of constant disarray due, in part, to Lord Watchmere's obsessive birdwatching. (He even keeps a pair of disruptive and nasty toucans in his foyer.) Unfortunately, the rest of the household has limited ability to "escape" the situation due to a lack of funds and because they are shunned by the ton as a result of the elopement of the younger daughter, Susannah, with her father's kind but unsuitable secretary, David Park, years earlier. Now widowed and once again living at home with her young son, Susannah earns her keep by painting archival watercolors of newly discovered plants sent to the Royal Gardens of Kew. Susannah's social shame is shared by her mother and her plain-faced and bitter sister, Loisa.

Sir Joseph thinks Trevenen is a very competent young man and sets him three tasks to perform in the two weeks he will be in London: get rid of the toucans, do something about Loisa, and marry Susannah. James Trevenen begins to think he would have been better off remaining in Cornwall, but his resourcefulness and humor enable him to tackle not only Sir Joseph's tasks, but numerous others with modest equanimity, earning him the nickname of "Beau Crusoe" among London's elite.

But amidst the accolades, Trevenen is fighting dark battles--both with the ghostly memories of his unspeakable past, and with a vengeful ex-lover. As Trevenen struggles for his sanity, those who have come to love and respect him struggle to unlock his secrets and save him from his enemies, both real and unreal.*

This book was chock full of interesting characters, historical detail, social commentary, witty exchanges and amusing incidents, and the deep psychological study of a man who would today be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. All of these elements are brilliantly woven together into a compelling story that I will definitely want to reread.

Fans of Carla Kelly may approach this book with preconceptions based on her backlist, but this book does not adhere to the "Regency Romance" formula. Instead, it is an historical romance set in the Regency period--a small but significant distinction. That said, things that other readers might have found objectionable--such as Trevenen's admittedly sordid relationship with Lady Audley--are things that I feel added richness, texture, and believability to the story.

This book does have a few faults--due in part to the length constraints of the Harlequin Historical format--but they are so outweighed by the pluses that I can't help but give it a five-star rating. What Ms. Kelly gets right, she really gets right. I would love to see what she could produce if she wrote a book free of any of the limitations imposed by a specific format. As Mary Jo Putney's cover blurb states, this is truly a "powerful and wonderfully perceptive author".

(*James Trevenen's unsettling haunting reminds me of Ian Rutledge's similar ghostly "souvenir" from his wartime ordeals in Charles Todd's darkly wonderful mystery series.)
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