Danelle Harmon is fast becoming one of my solid favorites in the 90s bodice ripper experience canon. She just does such a great job of writing "caring alpha" stereotypes who manage to be all strong and manly and brutish without resorting to rape-- at least, they're not rapey in the "revised" editions I've been reading with my friends on Kindle. Who knows what the originals are like? But whereas some of those "revised" editions read like rape apologist bullshit, where the act itself is taken out and replaced with a bit of the ol', "no-no-no-yes" shtick (which somehow actually manages to be more offensive than they were in the beginning, when they were blatant about it), Harmon's heroes are solidly charming, and make me swoon every time.
PIRATE IN MY ARMS is set in the early 1700s. Maria is a beautiful woman living with her aunt in a Puritan community. The other women are all insanely jealous of her good looks and one of her frenemies decides to convince her to sidle up to the dangerous Sam Bellamy and seduce him in order to make the guy she likes jealous. Unfortunately, this being a romance novel, Sam Bellamy seduces her right back and ends up taking her innocence (gasp). He realizes pretty quickly what he's done and that she's not actually a whore (oops) like he assumed (double oops), and offers to marry her. But Maria is too proud and turns him down angrily, but quickly realizes that she actually kinda likes him sorta.
Sam is actually a fearsome pirate known as Black Sam and when Maria's aunt refuses to let them marry, he goes off to seek his riches, leaving a sad Maria behind. Especially since she's pregnant. Luckily Puritans are totally accepting of that sort of thing-- HA! JK, they totally ostracize her for it and throw rocks at her and basically murder her baby. Just when you think things can't possibly get any worse, Sam wrecks ashore trying to return back to her and she thinks he's died and everyone gloats about the dead pirates while Maria's heart is just about breaking into pieces. Seriously, fuck those town people. Gloating Puritanical asshole trash.
Luckily, this being a romance novel, Sam isn't actually dead. She nurses him back to health and tells him not to be a pirate anymore and he agrees-- but LOL, jk it was a lie. He's going to be a pirate until he rescues what remains of his friends and then he's going to give it up (he can quit any time he wants, he's not addicted, he just doesn't want to). Maria is infuriated by this double-cross and quickly becomes a bitch on wheels. This is the most difficult and sloggy portion of the book for me, because she basically just goes into these circular arguments about how much she hates him for pirating etc. etc., and I'm like, GIRL. HE HAS TO GO SAVE HIS FRANS. #BFFS.
Fuck you, Maria.
Luckily, she redeems herself in the end.
The last 10% of the book though? Man. So intense. I was biting my nails. I forgot how well Harmon can do emotionally intense scenes. It reminded me of another BR I did where we all read CAPTAIN OF MY HEART, and I was quaking with flashbacks from OUTLANDER. (Luckily, the villain wasn't quite that sadistic and psycho, but he was still pretty bad. Eep!) Also, I can't imagine how much research went in to all those nautical scenes. The way Harmon writes, you really feel like you're on a bona fide pirate ship. I learned so many cool terms and the action scenes were AMAZING. When I finished the book, I was like, OMG, how am I ever going to get my pirate fix now?
Luckily, the author coincidentally happened to make all of her pirate-themed books free for Kindle Unlimited. Which I have. There's only one explanation, clearly, which is that she's stalking me and wants me to read more of her books-- which, luckily-- I am only too happy to do. I have already downloaded like four of them and they are waiting in my Kindle to be read. #WorkThatKUSub
I honestly don't get why this author isn't more popular. She's so cool. And she even looks kind of like an IRL version of Merida, from Brave. Like, I kind of high key want her to be my friend.
Thanks to Heather for BRing this with me and cheering me on to the finish line! Go check out her review!
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars