Almost a Scandal - Elizabeth Essex
This was almost a five star book. What stopped it short was all of the boat jargon and the ending.

However, this is very close to a five star book because of the amazing character development and plot. There was action, intrigue, high seas, sexy and steamy love scenes and a heroine who could kick all of our asses. Seriously, Sally's skinny but I would've backed down on half the stuff that she ended up doing and I consider myself rather stupidly brave.

Col was perfect in this story. I don't mean that he was a paragon of virtue and light; I mean he was simply perfect for Sally. He was the consummate professional until he realized who Sally was and what she meant to him. His slow unraveling is....perfect. Not to mention, I love a man that doesn't stop cursing simply because they are in the company of a woman and Col didn't because he thought of Sally as an equal. He saw her and it worked because that's what she wanted and what she deserved.

This book explores one woman's feeling of entrapment as a woman. Sally Kent was born to a Naval family and she knows the ins and outs of a ship. If she had been a man, she would've been a Captain at an early age. However, she has breasts and a vagina and is therefore not qualified to do much other than wait at home for her family (all males) to return from sea. Problem is, her younger brother Richard is dearly devoted to God. Not the sea. So when he's called up, he disappears and Sally takes his place. Partly because Kents don't just not serve in the Royal Navy and partly because Sally knows what she's about. She does her job and she does her job well and does it better than anyone on the Audacious .

Another thing I loved about this book was that it wasn't cliche. In books of gender swaps you always always wait and receive a reveal. The reveal is usually made by mistake or by the big bully/villain. Let's just say that there is a surprise in this book that is both delightful and completely understood. The villain is still a jerk but how he is handled is quite clever.

This book also reminded me a bit of the Hua Mulan story. Girl joins army to save family pride and family member, becomes a hero, becomes a girl again and is prepared to live her life alone. Except this one has a bit of the Disney twist, what with the romance and all ;D

If you like your romance novels to have backbone, meat, sensuality, danger and just general awesomeness, read this book.

If you want something frilly and light, then I would hold off.