REVIEW: Within a Captain’s Power by Lisa A. Olech
Never underestimate the power of a pirate . . .
Captain James Steele is duty bound to capture the privateer Scarlet Night and bring her rebellious crew to England to hang. Then he will leave his majesty’s service, make an upstanding marriage, and join the landed gentry. But the winds of fate are blowing the straitlaced commander utterly off course.
Once aboard, James comes face to face with a pirate boy who is in reality fierce, desperate—and gorgeous—Samantha Christian, on the run from a sadistic Virginia plantation owner. With her identity unbound, the good captain dutifully takes her under his personal command, whereupon decorum goes out the porthole. But while his heart is lost to Samantha by the time they reach England, her noose still awaits. Now James’s sense of duty will be severely tested. As for Samantha, she has a plan, and a duty, of her own . . .
Dear Ms. Olech,
It was the promise of a straight laced Naval captain dealing with a pirate heroine that caught my interest here. I mean shipboard romance and pirates. What’s not to love? Some of this worked well for me while other parts kicked sand in my face.
The story jumps right into action with Samantha plotting and using James to escape – what? At first we don’t know the full details, just that it’s horrific. James has no idea who this woman is who kissed him at a Virginia ball but as we’ll see she haunts his thoughts.
Since this is the fourth book in this series, I’m not sure if having read the first three would help me understand just how Samantha’s escape is engineered via an acquaintance. But hey, we get a female pirate taking charge so alright! Sam soon realizes that this isn’t a pleasure cruise and none of these people are her friends. Still she escaped sure death in Virginia vs probable death on board the Scarlet Night. Even the female captain might be killed by the crew if her lie about Sam’s identity and gender is discovered just because male pirates still have a hang up about women on board ships.
Royal Navy Captain Steele has a history with the Scarlet Night or rather his former privateer parents do. “Aunt Alice” might come as a shock to him when they meet – and we know they will. He’s not quite a stuffed shirt but his certainly is starched. Duty and all that. James and his amusing best friend and first Lieutenant “Ducky” have a nice friendship going. Steele might be engaged but it isn’t a true love match – about which he thinks wistfully given his parents’ no doubt 4evah love.
In 1715 though, privateers are a thing of the past and the ones who won’t stop on their own will be stopped by the Royal Navy (and no, I didn’t care for the one mention of the “Royal British Navy.” What? is there a non Royal one too?), brought back to London and hanged. When James’s ship takes the Scarlet Night in battle, his duty and honor come face to face with loyalty and love.
James and Captain Alice Tupper have interesting conversations. James is frankly shocked at how blasé she is about her more-than-likely fate. Alice “owns” being a pirate, freely admits to all she’s done, makes no attempt to get out of anything and tells James she’d much rather have died fighting than at the end of a rope. She also refuses all his offers to try and help her saying that when she crossed the line after killing the first time, something in her changed; she’s no longer the woman who saved his parents or changed James’s nappies. He’s got to accept that. I admire Alice and enjoyed her scenes immensely.
Then James realizes who the injured “cabin boy” is and his world gets rocked again. It’s insta love and, worse still, insta love in the face of Sam having fought with the crew against the Royal Navy and signed the Ship’s Articles. Either of these is enough to get her charged with treason. To his credit, James does just that even though he knows he has to come up with some way to exonerate her because he admits she’s the love of his life and he will save her.
At least Sam has a moment when she wonders if she’s not confusing love with gratitude for a savior from her horrible life (TRIGGER WARNING). I was astounded at how quickly she let a man kiss her senseless, given the ghastly experience she’d had with men up until that point. Two days after being so badly injured – and needing 40 sutures – that the doctor feared for her life, Sam and James are boinking like bunnies. And I don’t care how gentle James is, the woman has endured months of rape and abuse so this is way too fast. They are on their way to London where the pirate crew faces death so I guess the page count clock is ticking.
So, how is James going to get Sam out of the fix she’s in? Being charged with treason as a pirate looks like it’s a one way ticket to the gallows, twue love be damned. Of course James has a plan and of course that plan will go awry. I had a feeling about how Sam would ultimately be saved and I wasn’t wrong. It’s historically accurate too.
Sigh … then things went squirrely. Suddenly one character’s bastard son is somehow a Duke, it’s former character reunion time and condemned prisoners in the Tower of London are miraculously rescued and whisked away. James and Samantha are also at it again like bunnies. Add in some questionable historical details and modern slang and I give this a C.