Once a Pirate
Susan Grant makes a strong debut with her time travel romance Once a Pirate. Her background as an USAF pilot brings authenticity to heroine Carly Callahan, who ejects into the sea 1200 miles off the coast of Spain after her plane malfunctions. When Carly is rescued, it is the early 1800’s and she is aboard the pirate ship The Phoenix. She is the captive of Andrew Spencer, who insists she is Lady Amanda Paxton, his instrument of revenge against the man who destroyed his family. While time travel romances aren’t generally among my favorite reads, I do love a good pirate movie. Just as Swashbuckler (1976, starring Robert Shaw, James Earl Jones, and Genevieve Bujold) and Nate and Hayes (1983, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Miles O’Keefe) are rollicking sea adventures providing a couple of hours of entertainment, so does Once a Pirate.
Andrew, the illegitimate son of a Duke, had a promising Naval career destroyed by his “cousin” Richard, who framed him and had him court-martialed. He is now a pirate captain, and has just kidnapped Lady Amanda Paxton in order to thwart Richard’s plans to marry the Lady, who comes with a very large dowry. So what if the woman he saved from the sea doesn’t look like Lady Paxton? So what if she is wearing very odd clothing and doesn’t speak like an Englishwoman? So what if she is daft? So what if she intrigues him and doesn’t seem to be the spoiled and petulant woman he’d expected? By golly, he’ll have his revenge!
Carly is terribly confused at first as to where she is. She believes she was captured by a modern aristocrat, possibly a drug runner, and definitely a snob. She has a chip on her shoulder about men after having been dumped by her rich fiance Richard. After Carly determines she’s no longer in the present, she works at adapting to her situation, even though she dreams the same nightmare often – but it seems like more than a nightmare, and what’s even odder, Andrew is having strange nightmares of his own.
Carly soon makes herself a valued member of the crew, although one hulking pirate lurks dangerously in the shadows. She and Andrew must come to terms with their growing feelings for one another, but they are being chased by one of Richard’s ships, which now threatens any hope of returning Carly to her own time. It is at this point when Carly is able to prove her true identity to Andrew, and they begin to work together to thwart a common enemy.
How they are able to do so, and how the time travel aspect of bringing Carly back to her “real” life works, is something I won’t go into, except to say that many time travel romances unravel at the end. Once a Pirate does not unravel. While perhaps the ending might not hold up under intense logical scrutiny, it worked well enough for me.
Once a Pirate is a fun read, with enough introspective moments to provide some balance to this mostly-adventure-driven story. Readers looking for incredible character development won’t find it here, but then, that’s not the point of this book. This is pure entertainment, a strong Road Romance with enjoyable characters, delicious chemistry, and the kind of interesting secondary characters needed to round out the story. There’s the young cabin boy whom Carly teaches to read, and the wizened first mate who looks after his captain. The fact that the villain is over the top only works to the author’s advantage – isn’t the villain in a pirate story supposed to be really, really bad?
As for historical accuracy, it is of the “wallpaper” variety here. Yes, the reader does get a sense of the sights, sounds, and smells of life aboard a pirate ship, but don’t expect a whole lot of reality. Do you watch Errol Flynn movies late at night for reality or for fun? If, for you, like me, fun is enough, than sit back and enjoy this one – it’s lots of fun!