Sailing Master Able Six, Royal Navy, is a man like no other. To call him a mere polymath is to sell him short. Someone with his extraordinary gifts should rise to the top, unless it is the 1800s, where pedigree and money govern Regency society, as sure as Napoleon seeks world domination. A bastard raised in a Scottish workhouse with nothing in his favor except his amazing mind, Able must navigate life ashore on half-pay during the uneasy Truce of Amiens, and find a way to provide for his charming bride Meridee Bonfort, a gentlewoman to be sure, but lacking a dowry.
Assisted by two sea captains acquainted with his startling abilities, Able finds himself teaching mathematics and seamanship at St. Brendan the Navigator School, which is itself an experiment, taking boys like Able from workhouses and training them to serve the fleet in wartime. Meridee has agreed to invite four lads who need extra attention into their home in raffish, unsavory Portsmouth. Calling themselves the Gunwharf Rats, these St. Brendan lads show promise in an unpromising world. Can a sailing master-turned-teacher uncover their potential? Can Meridee find a way to nurture young hearts bruised too soon by life? What will happen when war breaks out again? And what is it about Able Six, the unlikely master genius?
Volume One: The St. Brendan Series.
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: The Unlikely Master Genius (St. Brendan Book 1)
Durable “Able” Six was abandoned at birth, and received his unusual name by being durable enough to survive the adverse conditions he was left in, and the orphanages simply used a sequential numbering system for their children. Being illegitimate and raised in an orphanage is not an easy life, and Able’s was made even more difficult because he is a true genius. Rather than appreciating and encouraging him, his cruel teachers beat and ridiculed him. At age nine, Able ran away to begin his life on the sea. Now at twenty-six, Able is a sailing master, but because there is a temporary peace, he is on land, waiting to see what the future holds. At a temporary tutoring job, he and his students’ aunt, Meridee Bonfort, quickly fall in love and make plans to marry.
Meridee is a gentleman’s daughter, but has no dowry, no prospects, and is living with her sister, helping to care for her children. The handsome tutor wins her heart, but their future seems uncertain due to their nonexistent financial assets. Their luck changes when Able is offered a teaching job which will also provide a home for the newlywed couple. Able is to teach and instruct orphans and abandoned children, much like he was, for careers on the sea. There is also a bonus salary for Meridee, if she will allow some of the more vulnerable boys a place in her home. The kindly sponsors of this program want the boys to feel a motherly love and caring, something they’ve not known before.
Both Meridee and Able are kind, loving, and caring people, and are very willing to have the boys in their home. Able also is an instructor far unlike those who abused him years ago. He encourages the boys, makes learning fun, and never, ever strikes them. When Able and another teacher clash, Able makes an enemy, and inadvertently becomes victim of a plot for revenge that will cause retribution against his boys.
While Able’s genius allows him to remember literally everything, and learn how to do almost anything, it also comes with dark consequences. Able feels that he should be able to know and do everything. When he fails, his mind travels to an unworldly place. Usually Meridee’s touch can bring him back, as this couple have a truly loving relationship. I love how Meridee is not put off by Able’s oddness, but accepts and loves his total person. She is, indeed, his keeper. Able’s mind is so unlike everyone else’s, that at any given time, a slew of different conversations and thoughts can be occurring in his head at the same time. Yet, he’s not cold or distant – he’s a passionate, warm, funny, caring man. His relationship with Meridee is swoonworthy, and their passion, while not explicit, is frequent and obviously highly enjoyable to both of them.
I found THE UNLIKELY MASTER GENIUS a joy to read for so many reasons. The storyline is very unusual, as is the hero. He is handsome, sexy, caring, and obviously deeply in love with his new wife. His mistreatment as a child didn’t make him bitter, but made him determined to never treat a child that way himself. Meridee is Able’s perfect match, and their care of the orphaned boys is truly heartwarming. Author Carla Kelly crafted a brilliant book that flows beautifully, holds your interest, touches your emotions, and warms your heart. There are also some memorable secondary characters and some lighthearted, smileworthy moments. I loved reading this book, and I can’t wait to follow Able and Meridee in the upcoming books in the ST. BRENDAN series. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy a character driven romance with a very different type of hero. ~Rose