The Shakespeare segue only connects via my head and that because of the battles, lieutenants and the Royal navy, and the improbability of the plot.
When reading The Bastard, (by Brenda Novak) suspend any preconceived ideas about feasibility. Do that and you’ll find yourself in the midst of an amusing and crazy Regency romp. There’s the young French émigré noblewoman, Jeanette Boucher. She disguises herself as tar boy and hides out on an English warship. Our heroine fortunately runs across an honorable and delicious officer and gentleman—albeit a ‘bastard’. Against the backdrop of England at the time of the French Revolution and the dawning of the great sea battles, the scenes on the ship conjure a gritty reality of life aboard such vessels—definitely not for the faint hearted. In fact the stark descriptions of seaboard conditions, and even more so, the horrors of war at sea, are some of the book’s stronger points. Throw in a hero of Midshipman Horatio Hornblower stature, (ah ha! my Horatio connection!) a feisty and endearing heroine—mutual feelings of suppressed attraction, a dastardly brother officer, a motley assorted swag of crew—ranging from benign to vicious, a perniciously rapid husband in hot pursuit, topped off with the mystery surrounding the birth of Lieutenant Crawford Treynor, and you have a good read for those moments when a good read is just the thing.