This adult historical fiction is a seafaring adventure meant to entertain both the sailor and the landlubber. Having lost hearth and heart to the Stuart Uprising, Cate Mackenzie, a fugitive war criminal, purchases passage on a ship bound for the West Indies. En route she is kidnapped-a case of mistaken identity-by Captain Nathanael Blackthorne, the pirate captain. Accustomed to blood, musket, and cannon, life aboard the pirate ship isn’t the hell Cate expects. She is instantly drawn into Nathan’s bloody rivalry against Lord Breaston Creswicke-the man who forced Nathan into piracy-and Commodore Roger Harte, Creswicke’s puppet. They are an “unholy alliance” of ambition and power, Nathan a rat terrier on their heels. The impending arrival of Creswicke’s fiancé is too much temptation. This is a story of two scarred people, blinded by their defenses. It’s the story of trust, or rather, the lack of. It’s the story of a loss of faith and disbelief that Providence might ever smile again.
Publisher and Release Date:
RHL Classifications: By The Board Publishing, September 2012
Time and Setting: Georgian Era
Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Emery
A Diamond in the Treasure Trove
When I first accepted this book for review, I didn’t realize I was taking on an epic work of 614 pages, but fortunately, I was also taking a long trip and decided this book would be the perfect solution to fill the long hours in flight. With any work of substantial length, one is always half- prepared for a lot of slogging through or even skimming long and dull passages of descriptive narrative, but as descriptive as this book was, there was never a dull moment. The cast of characters is colorful and interesting. The hero and heroine are both highly sympathetic. The story is told primarily through Catherine “Cate” Mackenzie’s POV with briefer sections written from Blackthorne’s perspective. I was immediately sucked into the pirate world and never looked back. I will add here that The Pirate Captain bears many so many resemblances to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series that I would almost call it “Outlander: the Pirate edition.”
Cate is a Jacobite on the lamb after she and her husband Brian, the nephew of a Highland Laird, fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie. Brian was wounded in battle and later taken prisoner and after six years with no word of his fate, Cate believes him dead. She has been on the run all this time as she is also wanted by the crown for treason. It is while trying to escape to the West Indies in order to begin a new and anonymous life that Cate is abducted by pirates. While Cate begins her adventure as a prisoner, she eventually comes to embraces her fate as a “pirate woman.” I loved Cate’s strong character. She was a woman who had suffered greatly but never wallowed in self pity. She always strove to make the best of her situation — even as a pirate captive.
Captain Nathanael “Nathan” Blackthorne’s was a fascinating character indeed — intense, wildly unpredictable, charming and dangerous. I thought he was physically molded a bit too closely after Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow for my taste and I found this to be quite distracting at times. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by him and could easily see how Cate would fall for the enigmatic Blackthorne. And she does fall. Hard. This is where I give enormous props to the author. The relationship between Cate and Nathan simmered slowly from their first encounter and continued this slow and steady burn for about five hundred pages. I never would have expected the author to be able to maintain such a high level of sexual tension for so long, and it was fabulous. I was almost as desperate for Cate and Nathan to be together as they were, but the consummation was well worth the wait. Hot without being overly explicit, the love scene between Cate and Nathan was one of the most romantic I have ever read.
The majority of this book is set at sea with the plot involving a great deal of what pirates do — raiding and pillaging at sea while doing their best to evade capture. There are a number of close calls involving Blackthorne’s nemesis (a relationship that closely mirrors Jamie Frazer and Black Jack Randall), and there is a great deal of description of life at sea. With all the nautical terminology employed, it would seem the author possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of tall ships and pirates, but I never found any of this tedious. On the contrary, I enjoyed the descriptions of sailing and the battle strategies employed by the clever Blackthorne. I was fairly entranced for the majority of six hundred plus pages and emotionally engaged every time a cannon fired.
On the lighter side, I was particularly enamored of Captain Blackthorne’s colorful and creative epithets:
“A goddamned, swivel-tongued son-of-a-double-eyed Dutch whore.”
“Avast! Away you! Get your goddamned bloody hands off me you cod-faced, motherless bastards. I’ll have every one of you hocked and heaved before the night’s out.”
Although highly engaging, impeccably researched, and extremely well-written, this diamond is not without flaws, and I found a few editing errors and anachronistic slips (pants and trousers versus breeches and ass instead of arse). As to the story itself, there are a number of subplots, one of which involves an act of antagonism and revenge when Blackthorne abducts his dire enemy’s fiancée. I almost wished this had been omitted from the book as I found the fiancée’s character unsympathetic and extremely annoying. I could see how the author intended to use her to instill some levity in the story but I didn’t find the solution that was eventually employed very believable.
Lastly, and most importantly for romance readers, this book does not end with a happily-ever-after, but an unresolved to-be-continued, that left me feeling terribly unfulfilled. Similar to the Outlander series, it seems this pirate adventure will continue over several books to come. This lack of resolution, however, is the only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 glowing stars.
The question now remains if I will invest the time in the next installment of Kerry Lynn’s pirate chronicles. The answer — indubitably. Will I resent the wait — absolutely!