The Maiden's Revenge
Grade : C-

The Maiden's Revenge offers two bigger-than-life characters, an overdose of lust, and a modicum of action as pirate meets merchant, neither ever to be the same again. Although the book is competently written and possesses an intriguing story concept, the characters lack the multi-dimensional quality that lends life and appeal, and the action bogs down until the end, at which point the reader's willingness to suspend disbelief is put to the test.

Captain Lynnette Thorne is legendary among the pirates of the Main. Stories about the beautiful and ruthless pirate abound, but none tells the true story - that Lynnette is haunted by the past, driven to avenge the tragic death of her younger sister at the hands of an English earl. Lynnette makes it a practice to spare ships flying the flag of her homeland, England, except for the ships of one particular English shipping company owned by her hated enemy, Roger, Earl of Pennsworth. She makes an exception one day, however, and captures a ship on its maiden voyage, sailed by Captain Daniel Bradley, co-owner of the vessel.

Captain Bradley also has wounds from the past. Stripped of his inheritance by his hated older brother and sold to the Royal Navy at a young age, Daniel worked his way up to a respected position in the Navy, and then retired to start a merchant company with a friend. Now, at his moment of triumph as he sails their first ship on its maiden run, he is captured - by a woman! Enraged, the chauvinistic Daniel is thwarted at every turn by this pirate "virago," and is held hostage on her private island, forced to watch his beloved ship be repaired and sold as booty, while he waits for his partner to ransom him.

Of course, both Daniel and Lynnette are determined to hold only disdain for each other, but their lust makes this impossible. As they're waiting for the ransom, they indulge in a several-months-long dance for dominance, nearly succumbing to their passions on numerous occasions. They're both too mistrustful to share their pasts, so they continue to misunderstand and misjudge each other throughout the entire book.

Readers who enjoy fantasies of physically perfect men and women who are masters of every activity they pursue, and whose relationship with each other is summed up in one word - sex - may find this story entertaining. Those who look for an evolving love relationship built on respect and understanding will be disappointed. Both Lynnette and Daniel have poignant pasts that rightfully affect their present lives, but too little is revealed early enough in the story for the reader to truly attach emotionally to these characters. Pages and pages are devoted to detailed accounts of their physical encounters, but weeks go by in a single paragraph as the reader is "told" they had intelligent conversations in which they shared their points of view on a variety of topics. It's too bad the reader isn't included in these conversations; they would be a welcome break from the endless loop of the characters' respective thoughts, with Daniel wanting Lynette in bed, and Lynette not wanting to want Daniel.

The last third of the book improves as Lynnette and Daniel return to England. Lynnette's traumatic girlhood experience is at last fully told, and there is some action outside the bedroom. The suspense builds as Lynnette seems able to accomplish the vengeance she has single-mindedly pursued for years. Alas, the final crisis and its resolution contain a few elements that are too unbelievable, and they turn what could have been an exciting ending into something more operatic.

The Maiden's Revenge is a bold book, very much a particular type of romance that will appeal to some, and not to others. Is it romance to you? You be the judge.

Reviewed by Mary Ann Lien
Grade : C-

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : April 6, 2000

Publication Date: 2000

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