Desert Isle Keeper
The Pirate Prince
A Retro Review
originally published on December 12, 2005
Four years ago I began reading romance and my first year of non-stop romances was by far the most fun I have ever had reading. The Pirate Prince was one of my favorites that year and when I reread it recently, I found myself once again mesmerized by its swashbuckling hero and fairy tale quality. Being captured by a gorgeous man you secretly desire, riding close to him as he takes you away on his horse, and staying in that rascal’s cabin as you hit the high seas were all new scenarios to me then and made for fascinating reading. Although I now know that these are overused plot lines for the most part, I still felt the magic and delighted in these situations every bit as much as when I first read the book.
Lazar di Fiore is a pirate with vengeance on his mind. Fifteen years ago, Lazar alone escaped the massacre of his royal family by his father’s political enemies and now is returning to Ascencion to avenge his family’s deaths. Lazar blames Ottavio Monteverdi, Governor of Ascencion, for the atrocities his family suffered and plans to mete out to him the punishment he deserves – he will slay his kin, take his life, and lay his city to waste. But first he will kill Monteverdi’s only daughter before his eyes and then sail away, never to return.
Allegra Monteverdi believes in democracy and is committed to helping the downtrodden people of Ascencion. Raised in France, her altruistic nature and political opinions run contrary to her father’s reign of terror. Although she loves her father, Allegra easily sees the corruption within the government and believes a peasant uprising would be a good thing. She hopes, just as the people do, that the legend of the young prince’s survival and eventual return to free them from their oppression proves to be true.
While his fleet of seven ships waits for his signal, Lazar makes his way through the city to the palace where his enemy is hosting a ball in his own honor. He takes note of every defense that could prove to be a hindrance later that night when his men arrive to carry out his plan of vengeance. Lazar’s attention is drawn to a lovely young woman at the town celebration and discovers she is Monteverdi’s daughter. Distressed that he must murder such a lovely young creature, but determined to do so all the same, within minutes Lazar finds himself rescuing Allegra from ravishment by her own fiancé. It was at this moment, so early in the book, that the hero became one of my all time favorites as this devastatingly handsome, posturing, sexy man struts onto the scene throwing humorous insults at the offender as he saves the woman targeted for his retribution. Assuring himself that he will kill the woman whose life he has just saved, Lazar is deeply aggravated as he realizes he is considering other options – such as taking her as his captive sex slave. Lazar’s inner reflections play a large role in this book and are often very amusing as his actions rarely live up to his wild imaginings.
After his men plunder the palace coffers and then burn it to the ground, and after Lazar has rescued Allegra for a second time that night, the pirate prince lines up the governor’s family for execution. Having lost the argument with himself concerning Allegra, she is safely locked in his cabin where she will not have to witness her father’s death. When Allegra suddenly runs onto the scene, Lazar is both angry and exasperated, but also rather impressed when Allegra staunchly defends her family while confronting him about his despicable actions. Perplexed over his desire to mollify Allegra, he can hardly believe when he agrees to spare their lives but retains enough presence of mind to insist upon Allegra’s captivity. As his ships sail from Ascencion, Lazar ignores any indication of the power his legend has just unleashed through his act of vengeance and refuses to care.
It is not long before Lazar realizes that he has competition for Allegra’s affections – himself. Unaware of Lazar’s identity, Allegra confesses that she has and always will love the prince, even if he is dead. Preferring anonymity over truth, he can’t quite believe his predicament and finally informs Allegra of his true identity only to be greeted by a hearty burst of laughter. Assuming that this is just another dirty pirate trick, Allegra knows that this arrogant heathen could never be her dream prince.
Both Allegra and Lazar’s strong characters totally captivated me. Allegra is finely principled, passionate about life, and willing to sacrifice herself for Ascencion’s cause. Lazar is an aggressive, hardened leader of men with an insolent air and a swagger to boot who successfully hides the larger gentle, honorable side of his nature. Believing in Lazar, Allegra easily discerns this softer side and is relentless in her attempts to persuade Lazar to fulfill his destiny. Theirs is a remarkable romance, formed over time through friendship, mutual respect, and sheer chemistry. Although Lazar occasionally threatens Allegra with their shared passion, it is mostly pure bluster.
Since Lazar has experienced significant agony apart from his family’s murders, he easily qualifies for tortured hero status. Although this book can be decidedly funny at times and extremely sexy at others, this is not purely a light fun read – Lazar feels shame, extreme guilt, and must revisit one of his worst nightmares. His misplaced aggressiveness towards Allegra may offend some readers but I felt it proved to further define his character. And although the heartbreak is a bit contrived, it is moving nonetheless and brought more than a few tears to my eyes.
The Pirate Prince is a delicious mix of piracy, royalty, loyalties, adventure, and bravery. Lazar truly is Allegra’s Prince Charming but Allegra is Lazar’s savior.