The Pirate Next Door
If you haven’t tried any of this author’s books yet, you just might want to get to it because The Pirate Next Door is, quite simply, a lot of fun. Watching proper widow Alexandra Alastair learn to let down her guard and actually enjoy falling for her rather unorthodox (to say the least) neighbor was sweet at some points and absolutely hilarious at many more. What’s more, the tongue-in-cheek purple prose adds to the fun, making for a slightly campy and very fun read.
Alexandra has already suffered the indignity of being married to a shameless adulterer who cheated on her openly. Now that he’s dead, she’s determined not to make the mistake of marrying such a rascal again. To that end, she carefully constructs a list of dull, dependable souls she deems eligible for her hand.
This plan, however, is turned upside down when Alexandra meets Viscount Stoke – her pirate next door. An enigmatic pirate turned aristocrat, Stoke has recently returned to England with his daughter Maggie, determined to settle down and provide a stable life for his child.
Unfortunately, a pirate can only have so much stability. Stoke’s old partner has become a self-proclaimed pirate hunter who is determined to exact vengeance on his former friend. And between pirate hunters, aristocratic spies, and madcap plots to hunt down the exiled king of France, Stoke has his hands full even before Alexandra enters his home one fateful night to rescue him from hanging. From that point on, one might safely say Stoke’s heart is no longer his own. The chemistry between these two sizzles from the very beginning.
In fact, that chemistry between the prim Society lady and the not-totally-reformed bad boy of the seas, together with the author’s wonderful, fast-paced plotting, take this novel a long way. What really makes it fun, however, is the sparkling dialogue reminiscent of an old-fashioned romantic comedy film.
Purists should know that the history in this novel for the most part is of the wallpaper variety, but it’s also apparent that the author certainly put some time into researching Regency England – not to mention pirates, privateers, and all manner of naval history. Knowing that this novel is supposed to be a madcap, over-the-top comedy, I was certainly prepared to accept some anachronisms, but so many liberties are taken with the manners and mores of the time that it eventually grates. The openness of various characters’ intimate relations, as well as the general lack of outcry by Regency society when faced with pirates in their midst seemed a bit too unbelievable for one to expect a reader to accept.
While historical purists may be put off by Ashley’s irreverent take on the manners of the time and her over-the-top plot twists, most readers will probably enjoy this delightful treat. And, while the book’s anachronisms, together with the odd convolutions of a subplot involving a pirate named Burchard in the second part of the story, kept me from making this a keeper, The Pirate Next Door is certainly well worth a look.