Captive of My Desires
Johanna Lindsey is one author I can usually enjoy if I don’t think much about all the unlikelihoods and but-what-abouts. Expecting her books to be humorous if not a bit trite, I guess you could say that I put myself in a Lindsey frame of mind and have fun riding the surface of the story.
With all the recent talk of pirates, I can’t see Captive of My Desires as a pirate book although it certainly starts and ends with pirates. The heroine tries to hide the fact that her father is a pirate (a good treasure hunting pirate) or wants others to believe she is or is not a pirate, depending on her purpose. Then there is the infamous James Malory, who once was a pirate but has now mended his ways. The hero hates pirates, the heroine loves the good pirates and fears the bad, and the villain is a pirate – but I still cannot bring myself to classify it as a true pirate story. It could be that neither of the leads are actual pirates, but I think it is more that the story is just a bit too soft if not frivolous for such a classification.
Gabrielle Brooks sets sail to find her father at the age of eighteen. While on the seas, she is captured by pirates and sold to none other than her father, who hid his pirate occupation from her all these years. The following three years are the best of Gabrielle’s life as she learns to sail a ship, hunt treasure, and live life to the fullest in the Caribbean. However her father believes Gabrielle needs to be presented to society in order to find a husband and sends her back to England and into the care of an old acquaintance by the name of James Malory. For those familiar with the Malory books, most will certainly remember James from Gentle Rogue. James and his wife Georgina are significant secondary characters and it’s good to see that love has not lessened his formidable temperament towards the world in general.
James gained four Anderson brother-in-laws who are all true pains in his side, but his purposeful intimidation won’t keep them from visiting their sister despite the fact that they are Americans and far from home. Having only recently arrived in England, Drew Anderson is a guest of the Malorys when Gabrielle arrives. Drew finds himself playing once again into his brother-in-law’s schemes when James chooses to not escort his wife and the newly adopted Gabrielle to social events knowing the responsibility will fall to Drew to provide proper escort.
Drew captains his own ship and operates as an honest merchantman as part of the family’s shipping empire. He loves women in general and has a sweetheart in every port and would have it no other way. He doesn’t want this attraction he feels for Gabrielle and it irritates him that she is searching for a husband pretending to be a virginal miss. It never enters his mind that she is an innocent since he knows of her heritage and the fact that she has been living with pirates – unless she is a deceitful sort. And yeah, as much as the story tries to dance around it – she is.
In a drunken state one night at yet another social event, Drew reveals that Gabrielle’s father is a pirate, effectively ending her chances of finding a respectable husband. But she can barely comprehend this situation before she is informed that she desperately needs to return to the Caribbean. Proving to be a true woman of action, she determines that commandeering a suitable ship for the task is the only thing a gently bred young woman can do. Knowing that Drew is leaving England, his ship seems the perfect answer to both her need for transportation and vengeance.
Gabrielle’s motivations are erratic as well as unclear as she wants to be an island miss, then a proper English wife, and ends up willingly choosing to be a pretend-pirate of the seas. Drew’s character never has a chance to truly develop and is often robbed of his potential as a hero by the presence of James, who is always around when the going gets rough. His character commanded center stage – causing Drew to appear as only the hero runner-up at times.
Drew and Gabrielle’s relationship has its entertaining moments, but there could have been so much more. Except for a brief two-page meeting, they have no interaction until page 78. Far too much time is spent on the pirate setup and, as enjoyable as it was, the James and Georgina update.
The Malory series has to be one of the longest running with its first book published in 1985 and Captive of My Desires representing its eight installment. As is often deemed necessary in Series Land, the appearance of past characters and backgrounds, as well as obvious future leads provide little other than distractions to the main plot. Although this latest entry can be treated as a stand-alone read, it is more complete knowing the background of Gentle Rogue, a book that is still in print today despite its original publication date of 1990.
For a bit of lighthearted fare when you really don’t want to think all that hard, Captive of My Desires provides some enjoyable moments. The primary romance rates no better than average, but when seen as a continuation of the Malory story, it delivers a higher level of satisfaction – Lindsey style.