The Captain's Midwinter Bride
by Liana De la Rosa
Release Date: November 12, 2020
Reviewed by PJ
Annalise Dalton raised two children and built a comfortable life for herself while her husband of convenience provided for them from afar. But now Phillip's home to stay, and she finds it impossible to ignore his gruff manner, brilliant blue eyes, or the gentle way he looks after her needs. And if Annalise is unnerved by the budding feelings her husband inspires in her, she does her best to hide how they unsettle her.
When past secrets and misunderstandings threaten the tenuous steps they've taken to create a real and loving marriage, can Phillip and Annalise overcome the years they spent apart to forge a happy future together, and for every Christmas to come?
If you're looking for a quick (114 pages) holiday romance with mature characters, heart-tugging emotion, passionate chemistry, and a sigh-worthy happy ending, this one's for you.
I really enjoyed the depth of emotion in this novella. Marrying for convenience at a young age, with Phillip leaving soon afterward for sea, and infrequent shore leaves over the course of his career, he and Annalise are more strangers than husband and wife. They've been wed for 25 years and have two children but they've never had a real marriage, never formed an emotional bond. I liked them a lot and was pulling for them the entire way. There are many issues they need to work through; not surprising after basically living separate lives for 25 years. I appreciated how De la Rosa took her time with them, navigating them through the awkwardness, the resentment, and the yearning while leading them to a deeper understanding and appreciation of one another. Leading them to what might just be a forever love.
I also enjoyed the fact that Phillip's reunion with his entire family, not only his wife, was explored in this story. It was so poignant to watch him learn how to be a father to his adult daughter, on the cusp of a marriage that may not be in her best interests. He remembers the young girl who idolized her father but reality has placed him in the path of a resentful adult, firmly on her mother's side, who does not make their reunion easy for him. I enjoyed her journey as well.
I don't know if the author has plans for future stories for this family but I'm invested in them now, hoping for a happy ending for Beth and definitely intrigued by Oliver. There are also a few other loose family threads that I'd like to see resolved. I'm curious to know what happened all those years ago, and why, and see justice for those who were wronged. I am not ready to say goodbye to the Daltons.