Set after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 and during the reign of George II, this mid 18th century story combines pirates, family loyalty, prison breaks, possible commutations, duplicity and an undeniable attraction in a fast-paced and well-crafted story, redolent with historical references, details and clever characters.
Mairi McFadden is the sister of a wanted man, Grant, deemed a traitor for the Scots side after the massacre at Culloden. Her clan and lands are struggling without his presence, and she is desperate to locate him and bring him home to solve the issues.
Phineas Lockwood is a privateer – one of the many men who danced the fine line between piracy and legitimate shipping, an attack on the wrong vessel resulted in his condemnation to death. When the King presents an offer: find and return the traitorous Scot, Grant McFadden to the crown, Phin and his crew will be allowed to continue their exploits, and Phin shall keep his life. He accepts the bargain, and heads to find McFadden.
Mairi, understanding that Phin is seeking her brother, takes the chance to stowaway on the ship. When discovered, she convinces Phin that she will be helpful in the search, yet she doesn’t understand that her brother will not be returning to their lands. Throughout the story Cullen plays on the emotions and attraction between Phin and Mairi: there is a certain chivalrous streak that is deeply ingrained, yet the attraction to Mairi is undeniable. For her part, even though Mairi is no Sassenach, she has the ability common to many of the higher-born women of her day, to manipulate and adjust her reactions and deportment to be pleasing for the English she mistrusts.
There are quick appearances from couples in Cullen’s other stories, and the interplay between the blossoming couple of Mairi and Phin and more settled couples is interesting to see: although the secret that Phin holds about the reasons for his search is a huge one, and his reticence to share with Mairi kept me wondering just what would happen.
One of those stories that has more reasons the couple cannot make a happy ending together, and yet they are so well matched and paired: Mairi is smart, determined, stubborn and loyal, all qualities Phin both exhibits and admires. Early on, Phin is more flexible in his loyalties, which sounds cold, but his fear for his own head are paramount and his intention to use Mairi to gain his own desires is slowly depleting, as he starts to realize that he cannot deny his love for her any longer.
I really do enjoy Cullen’s writing and her manipulation of the characters as she drags them, or they drag her to a happy ending. What seemed an impossible situation and connection was given options and opportunities, all taken with best intention, which changed the perceived destiny of the character’s pairing. Keeping close to, but taking some license with, historical accurate details, the scenes and settings feel honest and are easy to visualize, while the conventions of the time and the curious sense of chivalry juxtaposed with the more conventional thoughts of pirates will have readers redefining their pirate heroes as they cheer for the connection and happy ending for this pair.
Title: Pleasing the Pirate
Author: Sharon Cullen
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Loveswept, Random House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Two hearts are wrenched between love and duty in Sharon Cullen’s tale of a ruthless pirate and the Scottish lass who fills him with desire for something greater than plunder.
With her clan’s crops burned and their property confiscated, Mairi McFadden is desperate to free her brother from imprisonment so that he can take his rightful place as chief. Her only hope is the fierce English pirate Phin Lockwood, but the buccaneer laughs at her meager funds. His roving eyes, however, tell Mairi there’s something else he’ll take in exchange for her brother’s rescue. Though she burns with hatred for the English, she’ll do anything to save her clan.
The crown has made it clear that Phin has two choices: bring in a certain Scottish traitor or hang. And he’s not about to let a tiny, whiskey-eyed woman get in his way, even if she is pointing a gun at him. When Phin learns that Mairi’s brother is the very man he seeks, he’s more than willing to use the lass as bait. But as the moment of capture draws near, Phin is surprised by his feelings for the courageous beauty who has him considering risking his life—for someone besides himself.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.