REVIEW: The Iron Rose by Marsha Canham
Dear Mrs. Canham,
I hope that your muse can tempt you back into writing. I keep hearing rumors but what I want is to read another new Canham book! ;) Other reviews have decried the amount of violence and sex in “The Iron Rose.” Yes, it’s violent. Yes, it has sex. But it’s a pirate book! It’s supposed to be violent. It’s supposed to have sex. And it’s a wild, exhilarating ride. Like watching an old MGM movie. I kept expecting Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power to come swinging out of the shrouds, sword in hand, to battle the dastardly enemy in a duel of flashing rapier death. “Away, all hands up and over!”
Varian St. Clare, 12th Duke of Harrow has been sent to the Caribee by King James to persuade the English privateers to lay down their arms and sail tamely back to England in order to further a peace treaty with Phillip III of Spain. But when his ship is attacked without provocation by the Spanish and he’s rescued by Juliet Dante, the daughter of the famed Sea Wolf, Simon Dante, and captured documents are translated to reveal the true treacherous intentions of the Spanish King, he joins forces with the privateers to do their duty for England (and gain lots and lots of plunder) by destroying the Spanish fleet headed back across the Atlantic to avenge the disaster (in Spanish eyes at least) of the the Spanish Armada.
Simon finds himself in a world totally unlike the narrow, ordered English society in which he’s been raised. Things are wild, loose and lived to the edge. At first he’s appalled by these people, then admiring, then entering whole heartedly into their exhilarating world. Juliet is unlike any woman he’s ever dreamed existed. She’s his equal with a sword, in a fight, in languages and in bed. Especially in bed. I’m amazed these two have enough energy to walk after the 3 weeks they spend together. But he’s got the brains to realize she’s the woman for him and to go for it.
Juliet takes a bit longer to see that Simon isn’t the dainty fop she first thought. He might not know how to set a sail but he’s learning and by gosh, he really does love her. Just as she is.
The battle scenes take my breath away, the descriptions of place and time are first rate and it seems that you were obviously having tremendous fun writing this one. I do wonder just when your baby granddaughter to whom the book is dedicated will finally be allowed to read it, though.
A few nitpicks. I was kind of surprised that you made the hero a peer. He talks about responsibility to his dependents then, at the end, blithely intends to stay in the Caribbean with no thought to ever returning to England. It didn’t seem true to character. Also, there is one incredibly, amazingly, unbelievably stupid move on the part of the heroine which necessitates her rescue by Simon. Maybe you felt Simon needed a scene to prove his cojones but it made Juliet look like an idiot. Also, the villains are little more than cardboard characters (insert image of Basil Rathbone).
But this is still one of the most fun books I’ve read in a long time and if readers are ready for the violent content and a heroine who is not only not a virgin but who has had lovers in the past, it’s also a rush. A- Oh, I wish US readers had gotten the Spanish language cover instead of the kind of bland blue one.