A few reviewers on Amazon have dubbed this “Master and Commander meets Jane Austen”. It’s very much more “Master and Commander” than “Jane Austen”, for all that it’s a romance set in the Regency period. It’s definitely a romance, but it’s not a steamy, tumultuous, emotionally stormy book, not even by Jane Austen standards. The falling in love happens sotto voce, in the thoughts and observations of the characters, not played out on the main deck.
In “A Different Sort of Perfect”, Roycroft takes a very common Romance novel trope, the female stowaway, and then proceeds to write an entirely unexpected story that seems at least in part based on the premise of what would really happen if. . . Of course it’s a fantasy. There’s no “rocks fall, everybody dies” scenarios of “woman gets thrown into brig and put off at first available port” or “pirates live up to their name and unspeakable things happen”.
What does happen is where the “Master and Commander” part comes in. Roycroft presents a naval world that actually makes sense. She blends her stowaway and the inevitable stowaway/captain romance into that world in a way that seems much more believable than the more usual stowaway romances.
The heroine has the strongest character arc, growing and changing in a manner similar to a midshipman in one of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey Martin novels while never masquerading or becoming a boy herself. I love the way she grows from spoiled, unrealistic, and willful into a confident woman who realizes her own worth and capabilities, and who has compassion for others.
If you like shipboard romances, give this thing a try. There will be no skinny-dipping in moonlit tropical bays, no captain’s cabins the size of luxury hotel suites complete with bathtubs, and no stolen kisses in the rigging, but there will be a very engaging story with characters both main and secondary that will quickly seem like friends.