Pros: Fun romp around the Caribbean; heartwarming and funny secondary characters.
Cons: Villain at times feels like a carbon copy of the villain of the previous book.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Alicia Davidson always thought that her scar and memory loss were the results of a childhood accident, but after the death of her father she discovers that she was found washed up on the beach after a vicious pirate attack. After she reads a note that her father left her, she finds out that she had a sister who may still be alive. Leaving behind the town that she has known all of her life, she sets out in search of the man that her father said will help her find the sister that she lost so long ago. Blake Merritt is less than thrilled to meet her; he has his own ghosts from the past. Yet even as the two begin to come to terms with themselves and their growing attraction for each other, there is another danger that has followed Alicia from Port Royal.
I was very glad to see this Michelle Beattie’s Romancing the Pirate in my review pile, because I enjoyed reading Ms. Beattie’s What A Pirate Desires. She has a knack for bringing the time and ships to life, and the risk of being set upon by pirates was a very real one at the time. I was also fascinated by the way that Alicia had to cope with the loss of her father, finding out that she had another family that she had also lost, and the realization that there might still be someone of her family left. Those were a lot of conflicting emotions to have at once, and I was able to stay right with Alicia without feeling like I was constantly swinging back and forth.
I thoroughly enjoyed Alicia. She’s an extremely independent woman, which actually works in a Caribbean setting because at the time it could be an extremely rough place to live. She’s determined to succeed as a female blacksmith, despite the prevailing attitudes of the time. A couple of times, though, that determination came across as naivete because Alicia seems to be ignoring the fact that she can’t change society’s prejudices. The thing that I enjoyed the most about Alicia was that even though she has been through a lot of grief and loss, and even though she gets frustrated at times, she doesn’t get bitter, jaded or cynical. No matter how frustrated she might get with Blake, there are kind words and laughter with his crew.
As much as I enjoyed Alicia, Blake irritated me for the first third of the book. We keep getting vague hints about his past, but not enough to make a guess as to what his problem is or why he has such an intense dislike for Alicia. Because I couldn’t put some of the friction between the two of them into the proper context, I really began to get annoyed with him. Granted, when I did finally find out what had happened his actions made a lot more sense, but it didn’t entirely erase my initial frustration with him. This was detrimental later on in the book, because when friction began to occur again I was a lot less patient with him than I might have been otherwise.
The secondary characters in the story really stood out for me, and I was surprised to find myself caring for them nearly as much as Blake and Alicia. There is a sense of camaraderie among Blake’s crew that is so much fun to watch, especially when they all start joking and teasing with each other. I also loved the fact that we get to see some of the characters from the previous book and find out not only what has happened to them since the previous book, but also how some of them have grown in the interim.
The antagonist of the book left a bit to be desired. Once again, peril stalks our hero and heroine on the high seas, but the closer I got to the climax of the book, the more the antagonist started to seem like the villain of “What A Pirate Desires”. The similarities were so pronounced that I couldn’t really take the antagonist (whose predecessor in the first book I had trouble with as well) seriously. I was disappointed, because when I don’t take a villain seriously, it undercuts the dramatic tension.
Ms. Beattie has a knack for bringing the Caribbean to life; I can feel the heat of the sun and the roll of the ocean, as well as see plantations, docks, and shipyards. Her affection for the time shows in the details that make the setting come to life, and it’s a world that I enjoy coming back to. I also adore the way that she captures the frontier spirit, only adapting it for a Caribbean setting. Despite a few problems with some of the characters, this was a fun read and I very much look forward to coming back to this vibrant setting when her next book comes out.