Saturday, September 20, 2008

Captain Sinister's Lady by Darlene Marshall

Book Description:
Morgan Roberts, AKA Captain Sinister, dreams of leaving the sea and running away to farm, but when the Zephyr comes across a damaged ship wallowing in the Florida Straits, it's just too good an opportunity for any self-respecting privateer to pass up.

Amanda Stephenson is a widow traveling from Yorkshire to Charleston in the 1820's to set up her soap-making business. It's a grand adventure, just as she's always dreamed-until her ship is boarded by the crew of the Zephyr. Amanda's plans for her future do not include large, hairy, uncouth pirates.

Morgan Roberts has his work cut out for him, but he's prepared to try his most piratical tricks if it will convince the luscious widow to become Captain Sinister's Lady.

I began reading these pirate romances by Darlene Marshall because Diana Gabaldon recommended them. I wasn't thrilled with the first, but I loved the 2nd. The third comes in somewhere in between the two. It was okay, not bad, but not great.

I liked our heroine, Amanda Stephenson, a young and voluptuous widow that makes soap of all things. She's a head turner with a strong backbone and she's an enterprising businesswoman as well. Captain Morgan Roberts is instantly smitten and has decided he wants to give up his pirate ways and settle down on his farm and marry her. He just has to convince her that he's worth marrying. Morgan isn't exactly the usual swashbuckling pirate. He's a bit older than the usual with a scruffy long beard. The author never says exactly how old he is, but he has graying hair and people are always referring to his age around him as if he's getting up there in years. I'd say he's forty something - who knows?

The two of them are thrown together and there's some good sexual tension between them while living together on a small island in the Florida Keys (where most of the book takes place). Eventually he takes her to Savannah where she is introduced to friends who are able to help her and get her new clothes and the backing to start up her business. These are nice people, who happen to be Jewish, which is an unusual touch. I wonder how many Jewish families settled in the United States back then, it was kind of interesting to think about.

While in Savannah Morgan cleans himself up (thank God!) and shaves the beard and gets some fancy dress clothes. I was a bit surprised that Mandy (as Morgan calls her) realizes she loves him that same night and accepts his marriage proposal all of a sudden! I was expecting more of a courtship, but then they go down to St. Augustine where he has a house and the story takes off from there. Morgan gets a pardon from the president of the United States by agreeing to give up being a privateer and to help the US Navy get rid of the pirates along the coast.

While on their so-called honeymoon, there is a one night interlude at the same tavern, Gannymede's Cup, that plays a part in the two previous books and then they wind up down in Key West to clean out the pirate lairs for the Navy. While there, Morgan is injured and is feeling his age. He takes it out on Amanda and they quarrel a bit, but nothing to really worry about. There was some excitement at the end, I guessed who the unknown traitor was and the villain dies - all a bit predictable.

Overall, this was a nice little book, but nothing earth shattering. The storyline was different, but did not keep me on the edge of my seat. The romantic interludes weren't bad, but again, not overly thrilling. I'm not a big pirate romance reader, so that might be part of the reason why this didn't really grab me. I think Ms. Marshall has some potential, since her 2nd book was great, but her books need something, I can't put my finger on it, maybe more depth and feeling, they seem a little lightweight to me.


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