Once a Rebel
The heroine of Once A Rebel by Tammy Hilz plans to steal from the rich and give to the poor. However noble her motives, she’s still a person who takes it upon herself to decide who gets to keep their money and who doesn’t. That’s just one of the problems I had with the book.
The Jewels of the Sea series is about three nice girls who were cruelly orphaned and who survived by becoming pirates. In the first book the eldest daughter, Morgan, married a nobleman, and now all three have left the sea and are being educated as ladies. But the middle daughter, Jo, is a firebrand who loved piracy. She is scornful of the nobility, on whom she blames the hardships of her life, and is dedicated to helping orphaned children. She means to fund her good works through piracy. Luckily for her, the Sea Witch, their ship, is still in dock, ship shape and ready to sail.
At a masked ball, Jo flirts with Nathan, the handsome and powerful Marquis of Darvill. Somehow she overhears that he is desperate to raise fifty thousand pounds – in gold – and when he gets it he will travel swiftly to France. It does not occur to Jo to wonder what he needs with this truly extraordinary amount of money – she knows that she deserves it more. So she boards her ship, attacks his, and takes the money, wounding him severely as she does so. Then she feels guilty and nurses him back to health. Nathan does not connect his pirate captor with the woman he met in London. When he recovers he tells her that he needs the money to ransom his kidnapped sister, and she decides to take him to France to help him.
When writing a review, I often order my thoughts by asking myself a few questions about the book. Did I like the heroine? Did I like the hero? Did I care about their relationship? Was the plot plausible (or at least entertaining)? In this case, the answers are no, no, no, and no.
To begin with, I frankly found Jo to be a contemptible crook. The author pretties up her actions by peopling her life with lots of apple-cheeked orphans. But at least one of her actions shot right past spunky to criminally vicious. I didn’t really care that she’s a philanthropist, or that she was sorry afterwards. I didn’t like her.
Then there’s the hero, Nathan, Lord Darvill, who is genuinely frantic with worry for his beloved sister. He’s also thick as a post. In London at a masked ball, he meets a woman with red hair, green eyes, a suntan, calluses on her hands, who is the sister of a known female pirate. Later, he meets a female pirate with red hair and green eyes. Does he make the connection? Not for a really long time. There’s even a passage in which he muses, “In a vague, distant way she reminded him of the woman he’d met the night of the ball …” Then (I’m paraphrasing here) he thinks, “Nahhh.”
Then there’s the plot. I did not read the first book in this series, which may have presented the idea of three beauteous female pirates more plausibly than this one did, but I didn’t buy it for a second. Nor could I understand how Jo keeps a pirate ship, fully outfitted and ready to go, complete with a crew, and no one ever thought to wonder about that. And why is it that Jo spends years in London taking etiquette lessons, yet no one knows her name? I also have a serious problem with the fact that Jo opens fire on an enemy ship and blasts away, proclaiming her intention not to hurt or kill anyone. Shouldn’t she, an experienced pirate, know that people get maimed and killed when ships do battle?
I wanted to like this book, I really did, because I respect authors who try to do new and different things. Once A Rebel has a very original premise. I’m sorry to say that the author does not pull it off.