Re-Read Challenge: “Beyond Sunrise” By Candice Proctor

31 Aug

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: August!

Proctor, Candice - Beyond Sunrise
GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Bellantine Books, 2003

AVAILABILITY: still available

Can life ever be a real adventure without falling in love?

Ever since she can remember, India McKnight has craved adventure, dreaming of lands past the horizon. Following her calling, she becomes a travel writer, a vocation that takes her far and wide. All the while, she vows never to risk her freedom by falling in love. But when she sails to the exotic and unknown regions of the South Pacific, a rugged man brave enough to be her guide just may be the one who can lay claim to her heart.

Having turned his back on the “civilized” world long ago, Jack Ryder has been living in seclusion, hiding from the pain and betrayal buried in his past. When the beautiful, hotheaded Scotswoman arrives at his hut looking for a guide, he agrees to take her to the island of Takaku–despite the challenge–just to prove that her stubborn theories about native life are wrong. But when their journey turns dangerous, their fates become forever entwined. Forced to rely on each other for their very survival, they soon discover that passion and even deeper peril await them . . . just beyond the sunrise.

Then

Beyond Sunrise was my first novel by Candice Proctor and I loved it. To this day, I’m still a bit miffed that I didn’t glom all her books back then when they all were still available. I have two others by her, but sadly, I don’t have Whispers of Heaven.

Now

Calling Beyond Sunrise a historical romance is a bit misleading in that it’s far from what you’re used from a historical romance. No England, no regency, no drawing rooms, no balls. Beyond Sunrise takes place in the South Pacific and it reads like an adventure novel. Think African Queen or Romancing the Stone (without Michael Douglas trying to trick Kathleen Turner). There’s even a dance scene!

India McKnight might be a somewhat unusual woman for her time. Single, traveling alone, working as a travel writer. But she’s also a proper lady to the nth degree, with exact ideas about behavior. For example, she wears several petticoats despite the oppressing heat because that is what ladies do. She’s practical, no-nonsense, and she’s used to getting her way which means for the first chapters, she has a tendency to do things even though she’s told they would be dangerous. What saves her from being an annoying spunky heroine IMO then is a) she’s so used to do things her way; b) she doesn’t trust Jack very much; c) Candice Proctor is a good writer.

If you’re a bit impatient with India, I would say stick with her. Especially because this novel has several scenes where India is faced with the decision of what to do: leave Jack or stay with him? And every time this happens, it’s also a decision between danger and safety. Each of India’s decisions chronicles the progression of her relationship with Jack right up to the last decision when Jack asks her to marry him. Of course, India’s baggage about relationships and marriage (thanks to her parents) makes this question a question of safety and danger, too, and the way this eventually is resolved is very fitting and satisfying.

Jack Ryder is a man with quite a dubious reputation and quite often, he’s drunk. He’s also a wanted man. He’s thought responsible for a ship wreck several years ago that cost the lives of nearly all the ship’s crew. India’s first impression of Jack is that he’s gone “troppo,” meaning a white man who had “abandoned the trappings of Western civilization and assumed the clothing and lifestyle of the natives” (34).

Over the course of the story, Jack’s reasons why he is the way he is, why he lives the way he does, and the question of his guilt is revealed. Jack has some decisions to make, too, and some things to face, and it’s just beautiful that India helps him as he does help her.

India goes from being a woman who craves freedom and adventure above all else and who looks like this:

It was a bloody missionary, all right, Jack decided, frowning at the woman who sat ramrod straight at the prow of the longboat, her gloved hands gripping the handle of an austere parasol, the collar of her ugly, drab-colored gown buttoned up so high around her neck he wondered it didn’t choke her. (13/14)

to a woman who lets go of her rigid control and rules of behavior along with some layers of her clothes. Not because she’s gone troppo, but because she has discovered life:

Over her shoulder, her gaze met his again. She saw the flash of his smile in the flaring of the torchlight, felt the warmth of his breath against her cheek. The beat of the drums mingled with the crash of the surf and the haunting, unearthly wail of the conch shell, And she thought, This is life. This is life as in the past I might have recorded it, written about it. But never lived it. Not until now. (330)

India discovers life thanks to Jack’s help, and Jack regains his life, which he put on hold because of what happened in his past, thanks to India’s help (I actually think it’s more Jack’s story than India’s story). Despite all outward appearances, they have something in common and watching India and Jack discover the person underneath the other’s appearance and finding someone they could love was beautifully done. Jack is carefree in many things but once he’s made up his mind about India, he’s steadfast in his devotion and intentions to India.

Beside the lovely romance, the most captivating element of this story for me was the look it takes at the notion of civilization. It’s no wonder the word was mentioned in the blurb. The theme of civilization is present in nearly every element of the story. Its importance is underscored by a secondary plot concerning Jack’s former friend Simon, the Captain tasked with bringing Jack in, and Simon’s First Lieutenant Alex Preston.

Like India, Preston is rigid and proper, with a clear idea of what is right and what is wrong. For him, there are no grays. He also has to prove himself because he’s got his position only because the Captain of the ship Jack is thought responsible for sinking was related to him. So Preston has a very keen interest in apprehending Jack. And like India, he has to learn a thing or two about life.

And although this comment is already long, I have to mention the evocative scene descriptions in this novel. The humidity, the smells, the flora–I could see it all. The same way I could see how such two opposite characters like India and Jack could fall in love with each other thanks to the adventure they find themselves in. It gave them the chance to look beneath the surface and discover a new life together.

Verdict: I was undecided about the grade for this novel. But while writing this post, I discovered that there is no way I could give it 4,5/5. It’s such a beautifully written novel, IMO. 5/5

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10 Responses to “Re-Read Challenge: “Beyond Sunrise” By Candice Proctor”

  1. KristieJ Monday, August 31, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    Isn’t this one grand???? I LOVE Candice Proctor’s books and of all the authors I wanted to meet when I went to DC, I wanted to meet her the most! Alas though – Beyond Sunrise was her last romance before she reinvented herself as CS Harris. But she did go out with a bang on Beyond Sunrise!
    And you really MUST get a copy of Whispers of Heaven. It’s my fave.

    And if you enjoyed this one, River of Eden by Glenna McReynolds has a very similar ‘feel’ to it. I think you would enjoy it too.

  2. nath Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 2:59 am #

    Sounds great! I need to read her books… I wonder if I ever read her in French hmmm. Let me see if I can find you a copy of Whisper of Heaven! πŸ™‚

    I have Night Eden, Kristie’s favorite by this author. Perhaps I’ll pick it up soon! πŸ™‚

    Glad that you still love it πŸ™‚

  3. Lori Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 6:57 am #

    I’ve never read her at all. But this sounds really good!

  4. Taja Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    KristieJ – I knew she wrote under a different name now but I couldn’t remember it. Thanks, Kristie! And thanks for your suggestion of River of Eden. I see it’s still available and for less than 4 Euro – I’m so there! *g*

    I’ll see what I can do about Whispers of Heaven. Your comment didn’t make the fact that I don’t have it any easier to bear. πŸ˜‰

    nath – is it different when you read a book in French? I prefer to read English books in English because the translation is sometimes, especially for romance novels, not really careful.

    I hope you’ll like Night Eden! I’m looking forward to your thoughts.

    Re: Whispers of Heaven – nath, thanks for offering, I really appreciate it, but I wouldn’t want you to go to all that trouble. πŸ™‚

    Lori – obviously I would say, I think it is really good. πŸ˜€

  5. Steve in New Orleans Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    You can get most on Kindle if you go for that sort of thing. Also, Candice is writing as C.S. Harris and her historical mystery series featuring Sebastian St. Cyr have the same mood and character development.

  6. Taja Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    Steve – hi. I saw the Kindle editions when I checked availability and thought it great. I don’t own an ebook reader yet but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. And because I really like Proctor’s style, I actually think about reading a C.S. Harris novel (now that I know the name again) even though I’m not an avid mystery reader!

    Thank you for comment and suggestions.

  7. Leslie Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

    Great review! I’m not sure if I’ve ever read this author but this sounds like something I would like. The mention of Romancing the Stone and the setting are what hooked me. Adding this to my TBB list. πŸ™‚

  8. Taja Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Leslie – thank you. Now I can only hope that you will like it and that you think my comparison with Romancing the Stone (great movie, btw) not all that off. πŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.

  9. nath Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    LOL, if I can find it, I’ll definitively send it to you πŸ™‚ It’s no trouble at all.

    I have to say, now, I can’t read romance in French anymore… if I know it was originally written in English. I find translation missing… you cannot get the same feel – especially when it comes to the slang.

  10. Taja Friday, September 4, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    nath – LOL, maybe I should have written “expense” instead of “trouble.” Honestly, I’m uncomfortable thinking about that although I guess I could get you a gift certificate to compensate you for your expenses. You do remember that I live in Europe, don’t you?

    I haven’t tried reading a romance novel in German for a long time except Ward’s Lover Eternal. It’s a favorite re-read of mine in English (without the Lesser parts, that is) but I couldn’t ignore all its hilarity in German. To be fair, it’s an easy mark. πŸ˜›

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