Night Storm

By: Catherine Coulter

Series: Night Trilogy (1)

Book Number: 3

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


After the death of his only son, James Paxton taught his daughter, Genny, everything he knew about the ship-building business. Genny has been running most of the day-to-day operations at the shipyard since her father's heart attack left him unable to handle many of the tasks he used to do, but the young lady's eccentricities have earned her the scorn of the local Baltimoreans. No one will buy their new ship even though it is the best to be found anywhere, and without a buyer, the Paxtons will soon be in financial ruin. In an act of desperation, Genny writes a letter under the pseudonym "Eugene Paxton" to a wealthy English baron who is also a sea captain in hopes that he might be interested in either buying the ship or investing in the business, but when he arrives, Genny discovers that she may have bitten off more than she can chew.

Alec Carrick is a handsome baron who has a reliable reputation as a captain and a wild reputation with the ladies. Ever since the death of his wife in childbirth, he and his young daughter have been sailing the high seas in search of adventure around the world. He is intrigued by the letter from "Eugene," because he has always wanted to add a Baltimore Clipper to his fleet. Alec immediately realizes upon meeting "Eugene" that "he" is really a she, but why she is trying to deceive him, he doesn't know. Alec tries every despicable thing he can think of to get her to fess up, but Genny stubbornly maintains her facade until Alec finally ends it. Genny's spirited and obstinate nature both angers and captivates him in a way that no other woman ever has. Alec had sworn never to marry again, but he simply must have this beguiling creature as his own. When Alec and Genny's headstrong, opinionated personalities collide though, it will set off a tempestuous storm of passion to rival the most powerful hurricane.


I first read Night Storm over 15 years ago, and have to admit that I remembered absolutely nothing about it. Since I normally recall at least bits and pieces of stories I enjoyed even years after I've read them, I figured that didn't bode well for my re-reading of this book, and I couldn't have been more correct. In spite of their arrogant heroes, I had mostly enjoyed the first two books of the Night Trilogy, even upon re-read, but I'm afraid Alec was more than I could handle. I'll get to that in a moment, but he wasn't the only thing that dragged this story down for me. One of my biggest issues was quite simply the quality of the writing. The author penned nearly the entire book in an extremely passive voice, using tons of "be" verbs which equals the dreaded telling not showing. I've seen this happen in other books from time to time, but in this case, it was so bad I felt like the characters weren't even really an active part of their own story. There wasn't much in the way of character introspection to help me understand their motives either. In my opinion, even the chemistry between the hero and heroine was virtually non-existent, and I as the reader failed to truly connect with either one. The pacing was really slow in places as well with a bit too much technical talk of ships and ship-building. Ofttimes the dialog between Alec and Genny went on a little too long and lacked a natural feel to it. A few times, I think it was meant to be amusing banter, but it simply wasn't all that funny. I also noticed that things would be meandering along, only to have some major event thrown in out of the blue, but then not really go anywhere plot-wise. Everything felt really contrived, like it just happened "because" rather than being carefully thought through. In my opinion, the story lacked an overall flow, and I ended up not surprised at all that I didn't remember it from my previous read. It simply was quite unremarkable.

Alec is possibly the most condescending, arrogant, chauvinistic jerk of a hero I have ever read. He claims to be a gentleman yet drags Genny, who he knew was a woman despite her being disguised as a man, to a brothel for a little voyeuristic "fun," then isn't all that sympathetic toward her when what she saw made her physically ill. By today's standards, the man would probably be considered a sex addict. It seemed to me like the main reason he married both his first wife and Genny was because he couldn't control his lust. He is completely obsessed with Genny's breasts, and with sex in general. He seems to be constantly talking about it or engaging in it, to the point that it became a huge distraction to me as the reader. His naughty talk wasn't all that sexy to me, nor were his seductive methods. The first time he "pleasures" Genny it was little more than forced seduction to my way of thinking, with him basically saying, "I'm going to pleasure you and you're going to like it." {insert eye roll} From there he calmed down a little, thankfully not forcing himself on her again until the very end when he gets into some bizarre snit after regaining his memory and repays Genny's kindness and gentleness toward him during the memory loss by literally ripping off her clothes and practically raping her (of course, the only thing that made it not be rape is the fact that she enjoyed it). {insert another eye roll} At this point I'd had it with him, and didn't even care when he finally made an apology within the last pages of the book. His turnaround was just too sudden and too little, too late for me.

As if those things weren't enough, Alec just simply seemed very cold and distant, not like the type of man who would ever fall in love. Although he cared for his first wife and was affected by her death, he apparently never truly loved her, and I can't say that I came away from reading this story with any more conviction that he loved Genny. In fact, he never even said the words, "I love you." The closest he got was telling Genny to say she loved him, and when she did, he said, "And I you," which is pretty lame if you ask me. Alec also had a habit of bragging about his past exploits and all but parading them in front of Genny, only to behave sarcastically when she showed any jealousy. Now I don't mind the hero being a rake, but I absolutely don't want to read about that part of his life (at least not to that extreme an extent), nor have him finding women he's slept with in the past around every turn. He also had better be focused on the heroine once they meet, but in Alec's case, he bedded a prostitute twice after meeting and even sharing intimacies with Genny, and then very nearly did the same with a pretty widow, all of which I just couldn't stomach. Last but not least, I thought I might just be ill if the author told me one more time how incredibly "beautiful" Alec was and how all the ladies loved him. Even his little daughter wouldn't stop bragging about how "perfect" and "beautiful" he was even to the point that she said she herself couldn't measure up. Genny was no beauty either, but most romance heroes view the heroine as the most lovely woman in the world even if she is only passably pretty. Instead, Alec actually tells Genny that she's only passably pretty more than once, and even said the same to his daughter once (although I think it may have been meant in jest, though I don't recall anyone laughing), but to me, that's just an awful thing for a man to say to his wife and child under any circumstances. I freely admit that Alec wasn't the worst romance hero I've heard about, but for me, he was pretty insufferable. The only time I kind of liked him was when he'd lost his memory. He was still pretty arrogant, but at least he was treating Genny with some kindness and respect. Aside from that one comment to Hallie, he seemed to be a doting father to her, which in my opinion, was his only other redeeming quality.

Genny was a pretty feisty young woman whose father had taught her the ship-building business after his only son died, and then gave her free reign over it when he himself became ill. As such, she was a highly unconventional miss who had earned the disdain of both women and men alike for her habit of dressing in men's clothes when working in the shipyard. None of the men would do business with her either, because of her being a woman. I realize this was probably accurate on a historical level, but there have always been people in the various eras of history who have pushed the envelope and still found success working with other open-minded individuals. I felt like Genny was the target of misogyny on a lot of different levels. In my opinion, she never blossomed like she should, and could have. Instead, she was virtually subjugated by Alec who stifled her creativity, skill, and intelligence, rather than recognizing, respecting, and nurturing those qualities in a way that would have left her intact. Every time I thought he was going to allow her some latitude, he came back and metaphorically smacked her down again, reminding her harshly of her "woman's place." I like that Genny had enough backbone to stand up to Alec in a argument, but her own base desires always put her right back under his thumb again. As such, I felt that although likable, she was a pretty one-dimensional character.

Night Storm, and all of Catherine Coulter's romances that I've read to date, are laced with a dark sexuality that borders on the erotic with acts such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, light bondage and forced seduction. I enjoy a good erotic romance occasionally, but Ms. Coulter's darker tone isn't really my cup of tea and probably one of the reasons I've had a hard time gaining a real liking for her work. This book is definitely written in the old bodice ripper style of the 1970's and 80's even though it was first published in 1990. If written differently, I might have liked Alec's initial "pleasuring" of Genny, but taking into account the fact that she'd said "No" about ten times, made it pretty distasteful to me. These types of "love scenes" just don't float my boat. Once Genny gave in to her passions, it seemed like she and Alec were mating like rabbits multiple times a day. With them going at it so much, there were a lot of the scenes that didn't have much in the way of details, but those that did generally felt rather dispassionate to me with the feelings never going any deeper than mere sex.

I really didn't care for all the arguments between Alec and Genny either. In fact, since there were no villains or anything else particularly major standing in their way, their own hardheadedness seemed to be the primary conflict in the story. During most of these episodes, I felt that Alec treated Genny in a rude, condescending way. Granted she was pretty feisty and could give back on some level, but I couldn't help thinking that if Alec had behaved toward her in a more respectful way, she might have responded to him better, which seemed to be born out during his memory loss. The thing that drove me crazy about them though was the constant back and forth in their relationship that went something like this: "I want you." "No I don't." "OK, now I'll have you." "Now that I've had you, I don't want you anymore. Go away!" "No, I won't!" "Well, maybe I do still want you." "Now, I'll have you again." It all had me uttering the piratical interjection, "Aaaarrrgh!" more than once which seemed appropriate given the seafaring nature of the book.;-)

Night Storm didn't have many prominent secondary characters. Alec's daughter, Hallie, was really the only one. She was cute, but way too precocious for a five-year-old. As I already mentioned, I tired very quickly of her constant praises of her "perfect Papa." I also found it a little disturbing that she had so much knowledge of Alec's various mistresses and occasionally even what they had been doing, albeit on a rather innocent level. One would think that a "gentleman" would be a little more discreet when his daughter was around. For fans of the series, Burke and Arielle from Night Fire put in a couple of quick appearances, and they give a brief update on what Knight and Lilly (Night Shadow) were up to.

As I'm sure readers can tell by now, Night Storm was a pretty frustrating read for me. In fact, the only thing that kept me from marking the star rating even lower than I did was that somehow, I managed to read it straight through without setting it aside, although I certainly felt like it a few times. If I'd had even an inkling of memory of what it was like I would not have wasted my time re-reading it. I was probably still suffering from traumatic amnesia from the first time I read it.;-) Since I generally liked Night Fire and Night Shadow, the first two books in the series, I may keep Night Storm around simply to have the complete matching set, but I will definitely be making a strong note to self never to bother re-reading it again.


Catherine Coulter


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