For The Love of a Pirate
For Love of a Pirate features a hero who always does the correct thing and a heroine who has had a very unconventional upbringing. It’s not a wild romp, instead it’s a quiet character-driven romance that I found to be very charming.
Constantine Wylde, Lord Wylde, is a London gentleman and paragon of the ton. He has fun, but is not a debauchee, he’s handsome, rich, titled, and well mannered. Let’s face it, the man is perfect. The only thing Constantine is missing is a wife, so he proposes to Miss Winchester, a baron’s daughter and a very proper woman. She accepts (unknown to Constantine, her father has had him checked out and could find no scandal). Constantine and some of his friends go out to celebrate his engagement by indulging in a drinking binge (in a gentlemanly way of course) and a few days later Constantine staggers home with a massive hangover. He is rudely shaken from his sleep by the appearance of a lavishly bearded piratical looking gentleman who says his name is Captain Bigod. The captain states that Constantine’s late father had promised his son’s hand in marriage to Lisabeth, the captain’s granddaughter, and he’s come to arrange things.
Well – an announcement like that can certainly clear up a hangover and Constantine goes with the captain to find out more. Constantine was raised by his uncle, a stern cold man who told him his father had been killed in battle. However, the captain tells quite a different tale.
Constantine’s great grandfather was Captain Cunning, a Robin Hood of a pirate who used his booty to make the lives of people in his home village more comfortable – they still remember him with great affection. Captain Cunning’s son (Constantine’s grandfather) did not approve of his father (but he kept all the ill-gotten gains) and became quite prudish and self righteous. When his son (Constantine’s father) showed signs of wildness, he tried to suppress them and finally threw him out. Constantine’s father had married, and desperate for money, he tried being a highwayman only to lose his life, but not before befriendling Captain Bigod’s son. Together they promised each other that their children would wed. Captain Bigod’s son was killed by a jealous husband and the captain has raised the daughter, Lisabeth.
All this history leaves Constantine reeling, and when he asks his uncle, he confirms it. Constantine goes back to Captain Bigod’s house, figuring he should at least meet Lisabeth. Lisabeth isn’t all that sure she wants to meet Constantine, but they begin to spend time with each other and slowly, charmingly, they fall in love. One day, they make love – and it is mutual and deeply satisfying to both of them. As a gentleman, Constantine feels he must do the right thing, but Lisabeth isn’t all that sure…he’s never said he loved her, and she doesn’t feel as though she would be happy in London.
For the Love of A Pirate has one of those silly shirtless man/disheveled woman covers that I can’t stand, but that is something I can easily overlook. This is a quiet and charming book. Both Constantine and Lisabeth are sweet and very likable characters, and they feel quite right for the period. Lisabeth is a forthright young woman who speaks her mind, rides astride and occasionally wears breeches, yet never comes across as a modern woman playing a part. Lisabeth grew up idolizing Captain Cunning and Constantine is the image of the captain, yet he is so proper and so conventional that she is taken aback. But gradually, she sees that propriety has its charms.
Constantine is a man whose world has been totally turned upside down. He’s been a model of good behaviour and a devoted slave to Mrs. Grundy for all his life. When he finally discovers his background, his first thought is: “what will people think?” But he learns to embrace and accept his slightly raffish side and becomes a more likable man because of it.
Layton’s latest is not a fast paced, action filled book. It meanders quietly along and most of the time it’s focused on Constantine and Lisabeth and their developing relationship. If you are a reader who wants a more action filled book – look elsewhere – but if you are in the mood for a sweet, quiet book with some very pleasant characters, this will fill the bill perfectly.