Nathaniel Bainbridge is used to hiding, whether it’s concealing his struggles with reading or his forbidden desire for men. Under the thumb of his controlling father, the governor of Primrose Isle, he’s sailing to the fledging colony, where he’ll surrender to a respectable marriage for his family’s financial gain. Then pirates strike and he’s kidnapped for ransom by the Sea Hawk, a legendary villain of the New World.
Bitter and jaded, Hawk harbors futile dreams of leaving the sea for a quiet life, but men like him don’t deserve peace. He has a score to settle with Nathaniel’s father—the very man whose treachery forced him into piracy—and he’s sure Nathaniel is just as contemptible.
Yet as days pass in close quarters, Nathaniel’s feisty spirit and alluring innocence beguile and bewitch. Although Hawk knows he must keep his distance, the desire to teach Nathaniel the pleasure men can share grows uncontrollable. It’s not as though Hawk would ever feel anything for him besides lust…
Nathaniel realizes the fearsome Sea Hawk’s reputation is largely invented, and he sees the lonely man beneath the myth, willingly surrendering to his captor body and soul. As a pirate’s prisoner, he is finally free to be his true self. The crew has been promised the ransom Nathaniel will bring, yet as danger mounts and the time nears to give him up, Hawk’s biggest battle could be with his own heart.
Publisher and Release Date: KA Books, October 2017
Time and Setting: 1710, The Caribbean Sea
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Em
I read a lot of romance, but I particularly love historicals and I’ll take them any way I can get them. Reading the blurb for Kidnapped by the Pirate I was intrigued. New-to-me author Keira Andrews writes gay contemporary and historical romance, but this is her first foray into the eighteenth century (my sweet spot). It also features pirates. I was concerned (on many levels) it would be a disaster, but I’m happy to tell you Kidnapped by the Pirate was entertaining, romantic and sexy. Ms. Andrews gets the time period and setting spot on, and I enjoyed every bit of it – despite its slightly bonkers premise, and predictable happily ever after. Our bad guy is villainous – but not when it comes to our hero, and our hero is virginal – but ready and willing to be debauched by our villain. Me hearties, this is the way a pirate love story should be written.
Nathaniel Bainbridge is enjoying his last few months of freedom. In the years since his father departed to establish himself in the New World, his life has been blessedly peaceful and quiet, and being out from under his father’s thumb at last, he hasn’t had to conceal his inability to read or repress his forbidden desire for men (although he’s yet to act on it). But as the story begins, Nathaniel’s future is bleak – he’s sailing with his sister to the fledgling English colony of Primrose Isle, where their father is Governor. Upon arrival, Nathaniel is expected to marry the daughter of a prosperous merchant, thereby increasing the fortunes of the Bainbridge family. Nathaniel desperately wishes he could live life on his own terms, free of his father’s despicable tyranny, even going so far as to wish pirates would capture their ship…
Well, you know what’s coming right? Nathaniel is belowdecks with his heavily pregnant sister Susanna when the ship is set upon by a pirates. Shortly thereafter, Nathaniel and his sister are marched up on the deck to meet the Sea Hawk, a legendary pirate who has a bone to pick with Walter Bainbridge. When he threatens Susanna’s life, Nathaniel offers himself in her place – he’s Bainbridge’s sole heir – Hawk agrees to take him in her stead. Hawk leaves the ship with a warning: Sail to Primrose Isle, inform Bainbridge that Hawk has his son and that if he doesn’t pay up, Nathaniel will be killed.
Hmmm… it all sounds so straightforward doesn’t it? Well, Hawk isn’t your typical pirate. After being pressed into service by the Royal Navy as a young boy, he overcame the hardships of his childhood to eventually captain his own ship. Walter Bainbridge changed his fortunes in an instant (I’m not telling you how), forcing him and his crew into piracy. Nathaniel is simply a means to an end – with a fortune in ransom, Hawk can finally quit the sea and live the quiet life he’s longed for. Unfortunately, shortly after Nathaniel comes aboard, Hawk realizes he’s rather inconveniently attracted (and increasingly obsessed) with his much younger, attractive, male captive. And with nowhere to put Nathaniel on deck, Hawk is forced to confine him to his own quarters. The arrangement quickly becomes problematic. Nathaniel is tempting – a plum ripe for the picking… who can’t seem to disguise his own interest in his captor.
Nathaniel is terrified when he’s marched aboard The Damned Manta – and worried that his father won’t be able to raise the ransom money needed to free him. Once fond of spending his days roaming and running in the fields around their family estate, he’s dismayed when Hawk limits his freedom to a corner of his cabin. Nathaniel grows increasingly unhappy and resentful of his captivity while at the same time, he’s intensely aware of Hawk, but is frustrated by the pirate’s unwillingness to allow Nathaniel above decks – despite his promises to behave. When the captain taunts him with threats of using his body as revenge on his father, Nathaniel is secretly thrilled; he can barely disguise his fevered response. Days pass… and Nathaniel eventually decides he doesn’t want to die a virgin. If Hawk – whose tough guy persona appears to be a façade he keeps in place in front of his crew – is a willing partner…
It’s clear early on that Nathaniel and Hawk are destined to be lovers, and Ms. Andrews – to her credit – doesn’t draw things out unnecessarily. Eighteenth century pirates – apparently – turned a bit of a blind eye to male/male relationships – which makes sense since the men lived at sea with only each other for company for large stretches of time – and Ms. Andrews doesn’t belabor the point. Instead, she focuses the narrative on the evolving relationship between Hawk and Nathaniel. Nathaniel is everything Hawk knows he shouldn’t want and he can’t have and he struggles with his attraction, masking it with pirate bravado. Nathaniel’s his prisoner. But it isn’t long before he finds any and every reason to be close to him. They become physically intimate in short order, but the quick emotional intimacy that springs up catches them both off guard. It’s also increasingly clear that Hawk isn’t the fearsome villain he’s purported to be – he’s a good man whose life was casually and needlessly destroyed by Nathaniel’s despicable father. Hawk realizes that Nathaniel – his “plum” – is nothing like the older Bainbridge, and that he’s falling in love with him, but finds himself in an untenable position: he’s promised his crew a ransom in exchange for giving up Nathaniel.
Obviously, Nathaniel’s sexual awakening comes courtesy of Hawk, and early on, their encounters are more lustful than loving. But gradually, their physical intimacy gives way to an emotional attachment and Nathaniel is powerless to resist it. He’s curious about his lover and how he came to be the dreaded Sea Hawk, and it slowly becomes clear there’s more to the man than meets the eye. I was particularly charmed by the scene in which Hawk finally realizes why Nathaniel won’t simply read a book to pass the time. Instead of grilling Nathaniel or pressing him for reasons, he casually reads aloud for both of them. It’s tender and bittersweet – much like their relationship. Nathaniel becomes increasingly desperate to come up with some way for them to be together after the ransom is paid.
I won’t spoil the resolution except to say Nathaniel’s father is every bit as despicable and evil as we’ve been led to believe, but he’s well balanced by the love and affection of Nathaniel’s sister Susanna, who plays a pivotal role in the climatic ending. There are a few surprise twists along the road to the sickly sweet happily ever after, but I felt very hopeful about this pair. Age gap aside (it’s a big one!) they seemed destined for each other.
Me hearties, Kidnapped by a Pirate is the tender, sexy and swashbuckling queer pirate love story you never knew you needed to read. I think you’ll enjoy it – I did!