If you look on other sites for 'A Pirate's Love' and read the customer reviews, they are all pretty bad, and rightly so. But the truly odd problem I have with this particular book, is that I do not think Johanna Lindsey's writing is bad in any way. I think she did a very good job, maybe too good, of depicting a young French woman being terrorized.
This book should not be listed under romance, period.
'A Pirate's Love' is about a 19 year old French woman named Bettina Verlaine who has been told by her cold and domineering father that she is to marry a man, that owns a plantation in the Caribbean, known as The Compte Pierre Lambert. Bettina is angry at first but just accepts it. She is told she will go by ship and take her nurse, Maddy with her.
The voyage goes badly. Bettina's terror actually begins when a sailor tries to rape her. He is beaten for his attempt and Bettina is told to stay in her cabin. But she does not(some excuse about drying her long blonde hair in the sun). She is spotted by a pirate on another ship named Tristan. He and his crew force their way aboard, grab Bettina and Maddy and take them aboard his ship.
Tristan takes Bettina to his cabin and is nice, giving Bettina the false impression that he will not harm her. But then he tells her that he will kill and maim the crew of the ship she was taken from, if she does not allow him to have sex with her. Bettina agrees not to fight him in anyway, but does beg for him not to do what he is about to do.
Bettina gets smart with him and her first time with Tristan is painful, though Bettina, in her mind, doesn't mind the actual feel of him inside of her. But she thinks it is the first and last time he will ever touch her.
Bettina then finds out that Tristan lied about taking any prisoners and that she and Maddy are the only ones aboard his ship. Bettina never quite gets over the fact that he lied about that, and after, every sexual encounter with Tristan is brutal. He is always pinning her down and there is also a lot of physical fighting. Bettina never looks forward to any intimacy with him, and if Tristan isn't tearing her clothes off of her, he is holding her down and leaving marks on her, then telling her once each act is over, that if she would just 'give in', she wouldn't hate the rapes so much.
Bettina is almost always crying afterwards, or is so distraught, that she spends a lot of time thinking about how she can get him to either not touch her, not rip any of her own good clothes off of her by wearing his, how to make him rape her quickly, so that he won't think that she enjoys his unwanted attentions and get the wrong idea, or how to hire someone to kill him. The woman is clearly stressed out during 3/4ths of the book.
Well Bettina tries to escape a few times, and in one really galling encounter, she makes her way to her betrothed, the Compte and discovers after overhearing a conversation he is having with some man that Tristan hates, that he has no intention of marrying Betting now that Tristan has had her. Adding to Bettina's horror is that she becomes impregnated by Tristan. Somehow she begins to fall in love with him after that(actually that would be when she's actually showing...there are a few more rapes before she becomes big).
So the story switches from rapes to Stockholm Syndrome.
This book is not a romance. But when I thought about it, if Johanna Lindsey had 'tweaked' a few things, I don't think I would've seen this book the way I do. Maybe IF Tristan had forced Bettina to marry him, before the first rape...maybe as some sort of retaliation for something Bettina's father had done to him, then it would have looked a little more like a husband just taking his 'marital privilages'. And I doubt Bettina would have been so resistant. OR if the Compte had turned out to be the hero and wanted to show Bettina what making love was really like with a gentle man, then at least Bettina would have had a happy ending to her terror.
As it is, 'A Pirate's Love' is really a story about a young woman's fateful meeting with a rapist Pirate. Not one of Lindsey's best.
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