November 2012, Historical Romance (1800 England)
Avon Impulse, $0.99, 136 pages
This eBook is available from Amazon and other eBook retailers.
Seduced by a Pirate is Eloisa James’ companion story to The Ugly Duchess, and for 99 cents cost isn’t a factor in deciding to purchase it or not. While I don’t regret the time spent reading it, one major plot device got in the way of me really truly enjoying it.
It is time for Sir Griffin Barry to face the music and his wife. Fourteen years ago his wedding night changed the course of his life. Seventeen years old to his wife’s older age of twenty he is decimated by her exquisite beauty which unfortunately leads to an – ahem - limp willie. Fleeing from the humiliating experience he heads to the public house to drink away his mortification. In his inebriated state he is the perfect prey for a press gang, and the next morning he finds himself at sea, sailing to the West Indies. By eighteen he is a pirate and by twenty-two has his own ship. Seven years later, after being joined in his endeavors by his cousin James, now the Duke of Ashbrook, they make a pivotal change in their strategy, attacking only other pirate and slave ships. This distinction allows them to call themselves privateers instead of pirates and eases the way for a royal pardon.
With James now trying to entice his way into his wife’s good graces, Griffin realizes that he should be doing the same. Of course he is never going to be able to turn back the clock and become a gentleman again. The shameful fact that he bet James that he could bed his wife first proves that. So it is with trepidation that he makes his way to her country home. And is stunned to find his wife has three children.
Phoebe long accepted that her husband ran away because of her common roots. Her merchant father was the one that wanted the entry into society, leading him to buy her a husband. However Phoebe eschewed polite society from the very beginning of her marriage, much to her father’s disappointment. She has her friends and now her children and doesn’t need anything more, much less a roguish, so male stranger marked like a savage calling himself her husband. This man in no way resembles the young boy she married. And she doesn't understand why is he calling her Poppy instead of Phoebe.
While Griffin is determined that she give their marriage a chance, Phoebe's first inclination is to petition the courts for annulment. But his captivating masculinity holds her in thrall. She has never had anyone look at her with such bold hunger and desire. In fact she has been alone for way too long.
Since the story is only 136 pages, it is difficult to discuss what works and what doesn’t work in great detail without spoiling the story. There is no doubt that it has Ms. James' exquisite writing and trademark humor. Just the scenario of Phoebe thinking that her husband’s impotence has been a long term affliction is amusing, and his discomfiture brought an easy smile to my face.
Both Griffin and Phoebe are appealing characters. Plus there is plenty of heat as Griffin pulls out his arsenal of lessons learned over his fourteen years spent womanizing. But that in a nutshell is the problem. The historical double standard is very much alive. I would have liked this book a lot more if Griffin’s time spent away from Phoebe had been a lot less, especially since from the age of twenty to thirty-four Phoebe’s life is spent in limbo.
Still, the story is entertaining even if it pushes the limits of credibility. If you are not bothered by the double standard plot device, then there is plenty to enjoy here.
-- Leigh Davis
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