Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shannon Drake 'The Pirate Bride'

The Pirate Bride, hm. I'm just now thinking about the title of this book and realizing it has nothing to do with the story. Do authors lack control over the titles like they do over the covers?

I digress. Let me first admit that my favorite romance novels in my first blush of youth were ship board romance novels. The heroine stows away as the cabin boy and is discovered by the swashbuckling captain. Even though she's betrayed his trust, he can't stay away from her, and she slowly wins the crew over with her gentle sweet ways. I don't know how silly those books were since I have quite purposely not revisited them. But my sensibilities are a bit different now. So when I saw this book at the library it was with some trepidation and nostalgia that I picked it up.

I'll start with what I liked. The set up that gets these two together. She's captaining a pirate ship, he's captaining a merchantman. She comes upon him and his ship is clearly outclassed. Instead of getting all his men killed he proposes single combat. She agrees (disguised as a male pirate by the way) and she loses, narrowly. She gets to take half his goods, keep him prisoner for ransom and the rest of his men sail away.

He is the one who wiggles his way into the good graces of her crew. He figures out she's a woman pretty quickly, they pursue the dastardly man who killed her family, in the process she and he get washed over board in a storm, and come ashore on a deserted island. Another ship broke up in the storm and trunks and barrels keep washing up on shore making their stay quite comfortable, leaving them time to mess around.

I could have loved this book, but what I didn't like....well, there's a point in the book when you finally realize how ridiculous it is to think that after killing a notorious pirate, she took over his ship as THE CAPTAIN. I've been around sailors my whole life and I'm well aware that I don't know how to sail, much less captain a schooner. But in a romance, you could call that a technicality. What really bugged me was the convoluted escape/rescue plans. I've been reading a lot of Patricia Briggs lately and one of the things she does so well is the plots of rescue, revenge, and staying alive when someone wants to do you harm. The characters think through their actions and assess their risks realistically given the parameters of the fictional world they inhabit. I didn't feel that sort of clarity when it came to the action part of this book, and as a result of these characters making unclear/silly choices, I lost affection for them. Does that make sense?

Overall, good start, great middle, falls apart for me in the end. If you are dieing for a pirate book that doesn't involve old school rape, this might sate your appetite.

Historical Romance 2008: 2 of 5 good hearted whores.

1 comment:

Stewart said...

Hey Lis-

This book wasn't a H-ARRRR-lequin by any chance, was it? Sorry, could not resist the pirate-y dialogue opportunity here.