Pros: Utterly bizarre love story with most unlikely characters; hysterically funny
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review copy courtesy of Myrmidon Books.
Camilla is a British woman living in ‘romantic’ France with her twin boys. I.e., she lives in a tiny house with a leaky roof and no money, and her kids’ father has long since gone off and left her. She shares her life with two equally romantic and crazy friends, Fiona and Nickie, both of whom have also been left with kids and little money. Together they make do by laughing hysterically at all the troubles that come their way. Camilla also passes the time by chatting with guys on the internet, but eventually she finds herself talking to only one, as much as several times a day: the Pirate.
The Pirate lives in the Caribbean on his boat. He speaks in fractured English and swears like a… well, a pirate. He makes money in dodgy ways, and he encourages Camilla to take charge of her life. Of course, he also offers to shoot anyone she doesn’t like, and tries to convince her to come join him on his boat. Eventually life gets so exhausting that she just gives in and goes, hoping to enjoy a brief vacation in the Caribbean and then come home renewed.
Only nothing goes quite as planned. The Pirate is nothing like his photos (he’s a big, fat, pale slob), and he shouts at everything and everyone. He dotes on her and her kids, but she finds herself a literal prisoner on his boat. She wants for almost nothing, but at the same time she has nothing—no passport (he took that), no credit card (he took that too), no ability to come and go (all the locals know she’s the Captain’s Treasure and wouldn’t dare cross him), and certainly no ability to leave and go back to France.
Yet as horrible a situation as it sounds, all is not as it seems. She’s a craftier, stronger woman than she thinks, and she’s determined to rise to the challenge and beat the Pirate at his own game. The only problem is, she might have misunderstood which game they were playing…
Samantha David’s I Married a Pirate is told as one long letter/email, and it’s absolutely hysterical.
Oh, I don’t know, Philippa! I just felt like a camel. You know: bad tempered, flat-footed, shaggy and smelly, with stinky breath, foul yellow teeth and a definite hump. Don’t you ever feel… no. Oh well.
As much as the plot sounds like the setup for some sort of thriller, I Married a Pirate is definitely a romance of a most unusual order. It combines two crazed characters, both of whom should, ultimately, be pretty damn unlikeable, and somehow turns them into a fascinating, evenly-matched pairing that you just have to root for by the end. The endless back-and-forth struggle between Camilla and the Pirate is fascinating to watch, and so well-detailed that you can feel the sea spray and taste the drinks. Even their frequent battles are ringside entertainment, the kind of thing you want to eat popcorn while enjoying as they pepper each other with inventive insults and try to outmaneuver each other at every turn.
But I think that Camilla and the Pirate can speak best for themselves:
Suddenly, out of the blue a loud rebellious voice in my brain said ‘Bollocks to it!’ and excitement flooded my body. No more crying for Muma, no more worry-scurrying. I would take him on. In fact I was itching to take him on—insanely eager to beat the Pirate at his own game. Whatever that game was. Yeah, bollocks to it. I returned his smile and raised my glass.
‘You sushi-mouthed, sponge-brained piece of pond scum,’ I whispered. ‘You’re going to regret you said that.’
‘Dum spiro spero!’ he grinned. ‘Here, eat bread. You too thin!’
‘Dum spiro spero?’
‘While I breathe, I hope,’ he said, and laughed out loud.
Standard notes: language; ribald humor and sexual situations.