Review: Ship of Dreams by Reilly Ryan

An attraction fated to go down in history…if they survive.

Liar. Thief. Con man. James Hyde keeps these labels well hidden under the veneer of a high-class gambler. He knows how to charm his way to where the money is, and right now it’s aboard the world’s most luxurious ship, ripe for the taking. From the moment he locks eyes with Will Woods, though, James is tempted. Tempted, for once, to be the kind of man that another can trust with his heart.

Will is sailing toward everything he’s ever wanted: marriage and family. His instant attraction to James is a complete surprise—and too powerful to ignore. In his arms, Will rediscovers passion he’s kept long buried. And it tempts him to abandon the safety of wealth and position. Perhaps even his family’s good graces. All for James—a man who is only now beginning to understand the meaning of honor.

Then there’s the last obstacle standing in their way. Their ship of dreams…is the Titanic.

Review by Tara-Chan

Having been given the opportunity to read a gay romance taking place on the infamous Titanic, I looked forward to reading the story since I’m a huge Titanic junkie. See, I’m one of those who enjoyed James Cameron’s 1997 film, but I enjoyed it more for giving me the opportunity to see the ship come to life than the romance, and I also enjoyed the Titanic exhibition that came to my city several years ago. Point of the matter is that I was given the opportunity to read about some gay romance happening on this “Ship of Dreams”, and I was thrilled.

I wasn’t expecting my excitement to be broken up so quickly — in the first chapter nonetheless. The introduction was sudden, and the pacing was just way too fast. Even at the most pivotal moment of the ship’s distress, it flew by. In a way, because of the author’s writing style, the words flew past me, and by that, the whole book was actually an easy read. But I still felt like the plot was delivered to me without warning.

To be honest, after the first couple of chapters, I was really tempted to stop reading the book. But two things stopped me. I had to finish it since I started it, and I wanted to finish it just to write this review! I plodded on, and I’m kind of glad I did. See, the beginning really was the weakest part of the book for me, the middle proved to be better, and the ending was better than the beginning but not as decent as the middle.

I mentioned how the author’s writing pace was too sudden. Along with that, her characterisations of the character was quite bland until the middle of the book. In fact, I didn’t really like most of her characters, males and females included. The interactions between the characters weren’t that strong either. An example is the relationship between James and Will. Those two were supposed to be soul mates, love-at-first-sight kind of thing ala Jack and Rose. Until the middle of the novel, I felt like their interaction and relationship was really superficial and unrealistically done.

Luckily, the smutty scenes sort of converted me to accept their relationship eventually. See, that’s where Ryan’s strength lies. Her erotic portrayal of James and Will in several different scenes of the book ended up being quite steamy, and the images stayed in my mind upon reading them. The Turkish bath scene was where I started to get really into the story; actually the end of the fifth chapter was where things started to pick up and yet that was just a non-sexual scene.

Since this is a historical novel, based on an event I am quite familiar with, the question of its accuracy comes up in my mind. From reading the novel, I’d say Ryan did do her research. She penned down plenty about the doomed ship, mentioned about the people’s etiquette, the people’s mindset of that time, and the class difference from that era. She talked about the icebergs warning, about the speeding to break world records of travelling across the ocean. She even made historical references to Oscar Wilde’s “Earnest”, Benjamin Guggenheim, and John Jacob Astor.

While I commend her for putting these historical references down, I never once felt like I was aboard the mighty ship. I felt like Will, James, and the other characters were just on some random ship travelling in 1912. It also didn’t help when she had a couple of the characters (American characters) using “gotta”, “wanna”, “gonna”, and so on in their dialogue. Now I cannot prove for sure that they talked like that in the early 1900s in America. Maybe they did! But that just bothered me a bit and made me and a friend I mentioned to ponder about this issue.

All in all, I have to say that this is a fair novel. It’s something to read when I want to pass time. I believe that if the author had written it at a better pace and with better characterisations for me to like the characters, this would have been a really fantastic novel. It’s fair, but it could have been better, but I have to say that this wasn’t a bad attempt for a debut novel from the author. Perhaps in the future, her novels will be better and more of a good read than a fair one!

Author’s Website

Buy from Samhain Publishing Amazon (Kindle)

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