REVIEW – The Lion Triumphant by Philippa Carr

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The Lion Triumphant (Philippa Carr)

The Lion Triumphant
(Philippa Carr)

Title: The Lion Triumphant
Author: Philippa Carr
Series: Daughters of England #2
Published: 1974
Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction

From Goodreads: Catharine, smarting from the bitter blow which deprived her of her lover, meets the lusty sea Captain Jake Pennlyon, who makes it clear that he allows nothing to come between him and his desires. Catharine is the chief of these and the battle between two strong-willed and tempestuous people is fought out in the shadow of the growing rivalry between Spain and England.

Catharine delights in outwitting the man who would subdue her and before he can have his way a mysterious abduction takes place. A captive on a Spanish galleon, Catharine experiences the terrors of the sea and makes the acquaintance of the mysterious and dignified Don Felipe. In the Hacienda she discovers the reason for her capture and what is demanded of her, which bears out the fact that Jake Pennlyon is a man whose life is inextricably interwoven with her own.

Dear Diary: Catharine Kingsman, the only child of Bruno and Damask Kingsman.  Heartbroken after learning she can never marry the man she loves, Catharine is in Devon, visiting her adopted sister Honey Ennis at Trewynd Grange.

This Day in History The Lion Triumphant picks up where the first book left off: the death of Queen Mary and the ascension of Elizabeth to the throne.  The book ends with the defeat of the Spanish armada (1558 – 1588).

How history played a part:  The on-going conflicts with Spain drive much of the plot.  Jake’s pirating leads to Catharine being kidnapped and brought to Tenerife (a.k.a, the Canary Islands).  Because the naval battle is so important to history, it’s no coincidence that Ms. Carr decided to make Jake a fiercely loyal and daring sea captain.

Jake Pennlyon and Don Felipe Gonzáles

Jake Pennlyon is, essentially, a pirate — particularly when Spanish ships are involved.  He’s fiercely loyal to queen and country, hates the Spanish specifically and Papists in general.  Most romance readers would probably throw the book against the wall in frustration because of his actions and attitudes. However, Jake doesn’t pretend to be something he isn’t just to appease someone else. He is true to his times, which doesn’t necessarily make him a good candidate for the role of romance hero.

Unlike his dead father-in-law, Bruno Kingsman, Jake truly loves the woman he married, despite the constant conflict between them.  In fact, it’s because Catharine stands up to him, argues with him, and even defies him on occasion, that he’s drawn to her.  A docile and meek wife would bore him — Jake needs a strong, passionate wife to verbally spar with, a wife who keeps him on his toes.

Though not perfect by a long shot, Jake is a better person than both Bruno and Colum Casvellyn (The Witch from the Sea), Jake’s future son-in-law.  Though all three men have similar traits (MUST. HAVE. SONS!!!!), Jake’s less self-centered than the other two.  He’s a fair and generous captain, who cares for the welfare of his sailors, which has earned their loyalty and respect.  He takes in the orphaned child of a fellow captain who lost his life sailing one of Jake’s ships.  Several of Jake’s illegitimate sons are raised in his household and treated as family, regardless of the status of their mothers.  He even allows Catharine’s Catholic son by Don Felipe to live with them, despite the fact the boy is a constant reminder that he has only daughters with Catharine.  In fact, Jake’s actions on Roberto’s behalf illustrates just how much Catharine means to him.

I’ve read many books by this author, under three of her pen names, and one plot device that she uses frequently is a quasi love triangle: the heroine is drawn to a beta male (kind, gentle, thoughtful) and manages to catch the eye of an alpha male (arrogant, demanding, larger-than-life) who sweeps her off her feet.  Who she eventually ends up with will vary.  For instance, in the first book, Damask marries Bruno (alpha) and after his death, she marries Rupert (beta).  This isn’t the case in The Lion Triumphant.  Despite the apparent differences between the two men, Don Felipe isn’t any better than Jake.

Don Felipe is the well-bred and noble governor of Tenerife.  His sheltered child-bride was raped by Jake during one of his raids of the island.  For revenge, he has Catharine brought to him, before she is due to marry Jake so that he can get her with child, just as Jake had left his bride.  Felipe says he abhor violence, but he tells Catharine she’d be better off if she submitted to the inevitable instead of attempting to fight him.

Unlike Jake, he isn’t pleased with Catharine’s spirited nature.  In fact he says to her:

“You will learn to curb you tongue while you are here.  It is not seemly for women to use that organ so constantly.  They should be gentle and gracious in the presence of their masters.”

Don Felipe tells her, initially, that he’ll send her back to England when she is pregnant, but when pressed about returning, he keeps putting it off.  He doesn’t want to lose his son and Catharine can’t imagine leaving her child.  Of course, Felipe has fallen in love with her as well.  Unfortunately, he’s still married.

Even after she does become his wife, Catharine doesn’t enjoy any more freedom than she did as his hostage/prisoner.  She can’t visit her family in England though Felipe often talks of taking her to Spain; she must show she’s a devout Catholic or she’ll end up in the hands of the Inquisition; she can’t even leave the estate grounds without guards.  There are rumors that Felipe had a hand in the death of his first wife — which Catharine also has some suspicions of — and there are murmurings that Catharine bewitched Felipe.  I couldn’t wait until Jake showed up to rescue her from the island.  I did not like Felipe at all.

Verdict:  Overall, I found it less of a chore to read this time.  I read the ebook version and I really liked the experience.  As I write, I’m in the middle of reading the ebook version of The Witch from the Sea.  I would have finished by now, but I took the time to work on this instead.

One of the best things about the book is that the hard-to-accept male lead, Jake, spends a lot of time somewhere else — usually at sea. Whole chapters go by without him featured.

I find it interesting to note that a lot is made of the fact Honey and Edwina are descended from a witch. Catharine is also descended from the same woman, through her father, it’s not dwelt on.  I guess only descendants through the female line count when referring to witchcraft.  And speaking of Catharine — the unusual spelling with an “a” isn’t a typo.  That’s how it was spelled in the book.  However, it is spelled “Catherine” in The Witch from the Sea.

Though not my favorite book — or favorite hero — I can see myself re-reading this book at a later date.

Start: 2 March 2013
Finished: 10 March 2013

Challenges:
Daughters of England
E-Book Challenge
Historical Fiction
Mt. TBR

Rating:
Three Stars

Disclaimer: I purchased this book.
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