Pirate in My Arms
I started reading Pirate in My Arms with high expectations. It was my first Danelle Harmon, and based on the gushing reviews I’ve read for her other books, I hoped this book would be a keeper. Unfortunately, not so.
Maria Hallett is a gentle, sheltered girl living in the Puritan town of Cape Cod. She meets Sam Bellamy, a huge, manly pirate who is a big softie and has a heart of gold. He’s attracted to her innocence and beauty and she to his manliness and beauty, and they spend a few nights together. He leaves, promising to return soon. Meanwhile, Maria finds out she’s pregnant and is ostracized by her community. Sam doesn’t return for her, and she gives birth to the baby alone and in despair. The town mobs her, and she flees with her child. The night is freezing cold and the baby eventually dies, and Maria curses the day Sam ever set foot in Cape Cod.
A few years later, Maria sees the wreckage of a ship along the coast. She spots Sam lying unconscious on the beach, and she hauls him home and nurses him back to health. Commence a passionate reunion scene in which she cries a whole lot, and he kisses her tears away. They eventually make their way onto a ship and sail around for a while, and the book zooms into Stupid Plot territory. In order to speed things up, I have summarized the rest of the book for you into three convenient points:
1. The heroine decides she must leave the hero for a really dumb reason in order to “save” him.
2. The heroine almost dies because of her stupidity, and the hero is forced to risk his life for her.
3. The hero finds out the heroine lied about something (again, for his own good), and he throws a tantrum which culminates in a big sex scene.
Barring a few near-death experiences, everything ends well, and the couple get their happily ever after.
Maria is really TSTL. She might have had enough spirit to be a single mother, but besides that, she’s a limp noodle. This book was written in 1992, and it really shows. Maria spends a great deal of time crying in the very old-fashioned, bellowing way (“NO-o-o-o-o-! Saa-aa-AAAAM!”) and has so many interior monologues about why she’s sad that I found myself itching to skip through. She does develop some backbone later, in the form of her favorite phrase: “Go to Hell!” which she uses liberally and with gusto.
Sam is just as infuriating. I felt a little more sympathy for his character, as he’s inexplicably attached to the idiotic Maria, but he’s also macho in the silly, domineering way that is really unnecessary (“No, Maria, now. I said now!”). The almost-rape when he finds that Maria has been keeping information from him is ridiculous. He also has a tendency to accuse her of lying, which inevitably ends with her sobbing and more sex. And just to let you have a hint of the kind of things Sam thinks in a sticky situation, he says stuff like: “By the gods, princess, I’ll not let ye down!”
Needless to say, Pirate in My Arms was very disappointing. The writing really shows its age. There are many ellipses in this book, which drove me crazy. For example, when Sam tells Maria to go to Provincetown with him, she thinks: “Leave? But…but now she didn’t want to leave. Leave? Oh God, she didn’t know what she wanted!” Somehow I can easily imagine this entire book played out as a series arc of As the World Turns or All My Children – pirate style, of course.
At one point, Maria suspects Sam might be dead, and she thinks (as I said, there’s a lot of thinking) to herself: “Dead…dead…dead…NO!!!”
If you want to read a good pirate romance, I highly recommend Laura London’s The Windflower. If you want to read a Danelle Harmon, I’d suggest you skip this one and hope that her others are better.