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REVIEW: The Pirate Bride by Shannon Drake

Dear Ms. Drake,

037377316101lzzzzzzzIt’s about time I tried one of your books. I do believe I actually have a few in my ever growing TBR book mountains but this is the one I chose. Why? Because (drumroll) it’s A Pirate Book! I was so excited when I saw the title and cover (though it doesn’t accurately convey what the heroine wears) that I knew I had to try it. I’m a pirate book lover from way back, having cut my teeth on “Captain Blood” and other Rafael Sabatini books. But when was the last time I actually see a new (non-Regency) swashbuckling book? Oh, ages and I’ve missed them.

The date is a bit past the “Brethren of the Coast” era but still within the time frame of the pirate era as we see from the inclusion of one of the secondary characters, Edward Teach – the famous Blackbeard himself. As with Teach, Captain Red Robert became a pirate in a round about way. None of which interests Laird Logan Haggerty when his ship is cornered by Red Robert. Foolishly he agreed to transport a treasure to the Colonies – a treasure that slowed down his ship and caused him to delay recruiting more hands.

Now Logan counts on the honor of pirates to demand single combat. If he wins, the treasure is divided with half going to his crew who will be free to sail on. If he loses, Red Robert and his crew get it all plus Logan’s ship. But either way, he will remain as a captive awaiting a ransom. Logan’s not thrilled with the terms but it’s the best he can hope for and the sword fight begins.

Even though Red Robert is a pretty darn good swordsman, Logan wins. Though barely. But something’s wrong about the situation. Robert is known for being somewhat effete and the more Logan looks at him, the more he realizes Red Robert is really something else. A woman, to be exact. And further more, all the crew knows it. When they reach the town of New Providence in the Bahamas, Logan proves his mettle even as he discovers that Red is after the same man who Logan’s hunted for years.

Blair Colm is evil incarnate though he works for the Crown. Both Logan and Red ended up in the Colonies due to Colm’s habit of selling young prisoners as indentured servants. Both of them also watched Colm kill their parents. Red has made her hunt into almost an obsession, letting nothing and no one stand in her way. She knows Colm is aware of her search, though not of her true identity and is equally aware she will find death at his hands should he ever catch her.

After disposing of the treasure and resupplying her ship, Red and her crew sail off only to be caught in a vicious storm. Washed overboard, she would have drowned except for Logan’s quick thinking in following her and their luck in grabbing a barrel that washes ashore on a deserted island. Now Red’s crew has to calculate the current patterns and hope that both survived to be found. And pray that they reach the two before Colm, known to be sailing in the area, discovers them first.

Red’s got a pirate-y crew complete with pirate-y names yet none of them end up coming across as cardboard characters. You give them depth and you give them personas. Peg-leg is obviously devoted to his captain and fiercely defends her against any skepticism. Silent Sam observes everything. Both are murder in a fight. O’Hara might be too quick a convert to the flock of the Church of Red but you give him a legitimate skill to offer the crew in exchange for his life and a chance to escape Colm. However, the laundry and bath detail does come across as cloying.

You also don’t sink to relying on stereotypical behavior when it comes to the actions of the pirates. There’s not an excess of swashbuckling merely for the sake of it. Red and Logan are quite willing to fight single combat in order to avoid damage to their ships and the potential loss of crewmen. Teach fosters his ruthless persona in order to influence merchantmen to willingly surrender to him rather than resist and risk injury. Logan plays on the well known superstition of seamen to save what he can of his cargo.

Red is a strong woman, both physically and intellectually. She knows her limitations and usually sticks to them. When she doesn’t, it’s because the opportunity to gain the revenge that’s driven her since childhood is too much for her to ignore. Her quest has become so single minded that at times it does overcome her common sense.

Colm is a delicious villain. He doesn’t foam at the mouth and rant histrionically nor does he indulge in any “tell all” moments before he and either Red or Logan fight. He’s cold, calculating evil. He works within the corrupt system and milks it for all it’s worth which, in a way, makes him even more awful. He nurtures his hate, considers his punitive actions and strikes where it’ll hurt the most. All of this makes it very realistic that so many people hate him and want him dead. Also that Red will risk her own safety to be sure, absolutely sure, he’s dead.

The tables are turned slightly in the “desire for revenge” category. Generally it’s the hero who is consumed past the point of idiocy with the drive to mete out his own version of justice on the one he thinks did him wrong. The heroine, meanwhile, acts as a tempering influence on his actions and sort of reigns him in when he threatens to run amok. Here it’s Red who won’t listen to Logan’s urgings to end her quest to kill Colm, to retire with the wealth she’s made as a pirate and find revenge in living a good, happy and long life. Logan lost as much as Red but didn’t suffer as she did during his indenture so I can see that it’s easier for him to be willing to turn away from the white hot need for vengeance.

The prologue puzzled me in that we see the defining moment when Colm killed the family of one of the protagonists (and it took me a long while to figure out which one featured in it) but not both. I’m curious as to why you selected to show the actions against only one and that particular one. Is it to show that despite the horror of watching his mother’s death, Logan was still able to think logically about the situation and overcome his need to revenge his family?

As I read the glowing adjectives used by Logan to describe his hoped for fiancee Cassandra (would she have been described as Lady Bethany? No, I don’t think so) I had a horrible feeling that she would morph into a cosmic shrew when she finally stepped on stage but, yippee skippee, she turned out to be an intelligent, intrepid, shrewd character who coolly measured up the situation she and her father (a wonderful, honorable man) were in and sought to ensure their safety as best she could.

Being stranded on a desert island sure is easier with a lot of salvaged cargo. Red and Logan almost had something looking like a Sandal’s resort cottage by the time they were finished. Okay, I’m being unreasonable here but I would like to have seen them have to rough it and use their ingenuity to survive rather than just cracking open yet another barrel and discovering the sugar to go in their fine porcelain cups of tea. The exception being when Red discovers a crate of books and squees with joy. Gotta love a woman who loves books. This section was useful in letting them examine their past lives and show each other their individual need for revenge on Colm but ended up circling the same topics too much. But points for their clever, is somewhat stomach turning, subterfuge to cover their tracks.

The epilogue is one of these sugary sweet Care Bear (&#174 Mrs. Giggles) ones that’s almost best to skip. Did everyone have to get paired off for a HEA after the immense treasure was located so everyone would also be filthy rich? After reading it, I guess so.

But despite the few problems I had with the story and characters, I’m thrilled that you wrote it and that I got a chance to indulge my inner “Avast Me hearties” self. Arrrrrr. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

18 Comments

  1. Maura
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 18:02:48

    Oh my gosh, I’ve avoided pirates so far but it sounds like I might have to read this one.

  2. ldb
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 21:18:53

    There is not a single thing I hate more then girl pirate books, not really sure why because I love a good male pirate, but even if the story were A+x100 I still don’t think I could read it. Sigh, because I get so excited whenever I hear the word pirate and it seems like they’ve all been girls lately. I must be a minority.

  3. Heather Massey
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 21:29:40

    Grrrl pirates ruuullle!! Thanks for the review; this sounds right up my alley.

  4. Robin
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 02:00:15

    Jayne, have you read Danelle Harmon’s pirate books? She’s got at least one (two, maybe?) that features a lady pirate, and reading the description of the Drake book put me in mind of one of the Harmon’s. It may have been My Lady Pirate, but I’m not sure.

  5. Jayne
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 04:47:26

    ldb, we all have that one certain plot that we can’t stand. For me, it’s amnesia books. And most Harlequin Presents books.

    I’m trying to think why this book worked so well for me and – so far – the Beattie girl pirate book hasn’t. Maybe because I just finished this book so recently.

  6. Jayne
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 04:51:34

    I haven’t heard much about Drake recently but when I was looking at eharlequin the other day, I noticed she’s got some cool sounding older books still available there as ebooks.

  7. Jayne
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 04:55:32

    Robin I’ve read her Montforte books, and liked them quite a bit. But after I went back and found her backlist, I tried one of her older books and it just read – painfully- like an 80s bodice ripper. I don’t think it was this one – seems like it was an 18th century colonial one – but it put me off attempting any more of the older books I’ve still got squirreled away somewhere.

  8. Gina
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 06:29:22

    Isn’t Shannon Drake an alternate pen name for Heather Graham?

  9. Jayne
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 06:33:14

    Checking….checking and….you’re right. She’s not only Heather Graham, aka Shannon Drake, but also Heather Graham Pozzessere. Man, she’s a lot of people. See, I never can remember stuff like this. ;)

  10. DS
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 08:17:07

    Pozzessere is her married name. I may have heard one time why she started using it but I don’t remember.

    Whatever you do, avoid her contemporary romantic suspense novels. The one I read had every cliche imaginable plus the kitchen sink.

    Interesting cover on this one. No mantitty at all. I haven’t looked at HH in a long time. Is this the current trend? I bet Wal-Mart loves it.

  11. Jayne
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 08:26:03

    I’m guessing the name switching is to allow penetration into other subgenres. This book is actually not a Harlequin Historical but is being sold as an HQN. Hence the slightly different cover. Beyond that and maybe a slightly longer length, I’m not sure what separates the two lines.

  12. ldb
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 19:56:17

    I don’t know the particulars of it, but these books aren’t only around for a month, I think these have more normal printings.

  13. Shannon Stacey
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 20:11:02

    I heard somewhere the Pozzessere came into play back when Harlequin contractually “owned” pen names. My understanding is that she had to add the Pozzessere in order to write for somebody else, but after the authors and RWA finally won the battle of the pen names, she was able to drop the Pozzessere again.

  14. Lorraine
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 23:44:07

    I love pirate books, including gurl pirates! This reminded me of Fern Michaels Sea Siren (I believe that’s what it’s called) from the late 70s early 80s. A young Spanish senorita’s galleon is overtaken by brutal pirates and she spends the next several years plying the seas avenging her sister’s death. Good stuff.

  15. The role of urban fantasy… | Moriah Jovan
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 10:45:57

    […] genre romance does! We’ve been subsisting on these women for decades (can you say “pirate queen”?). Clarissa Pinkola Estés even wrote a little book about the kick-ass heroine, her history, […]

  16. Keishon
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 21:29:03

    Just want to say that the only Shannon Drake book that I really, really loved was Ondine. I have been unsuccessful with anything else.

  17. Jayne
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 04:28:38

    Actually, I think “Ondine” is one of the older books I have tucked away in one of my many, many TBR piles. Of course now I can’t recall what the plot or era is…

  18. Keishon
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 11:00:38

    Hey Jayne, I’m sure you could have looked this up on your own but wanted to post the back blurb from BYRON:

    A mysterious lady condemned to die, and the lord destined to save her…

    Once she’d been a pampered lady. Then she became an innocent pawn in a terrible game of power and influence. Now, with a noose around her neck, Ondine was to hang before she had the chance to find the traitor who had been her noble father’s killer… before she had a chance to live.

    Lord Chatham had been called a beast. His eyes hard as silver, his will as strong as steel. He had all the mistresses a man could want, but for his own secret purpose of revenge, he needed a wife. A quirk of fate brought him to the gallows, a flash of destiny made him claim the condemned Ondine as his bride.

    Swept up in the intrigues of Charles II’s opulent court, surrounded by enemies, neither Ondine nor Chatham expected to find a passion to quell a man’s furies, fulfill a woman’s deepest desires, and unite them — body, heart, and soul.

    It’s been years since I read this book but I remember it quite fondly. I remember it having a lot of historical detail balanced with a nice romance. It’s worth checking out.

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