Pirate’s Lady
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There’s a thrift shop located across from my house, and I like to shop there for a couple of reasons. First, I’m a wicked miser, and I’m always looking to save a few bucks. Second, the proceeds all go to the local SPCA—cheap stuff and the chance to help puppies and kitties seems like a win-win to me. The last time I went, I picked up a couple of books—at fifty cents a pop I just couldn’t resist. I chose Pirate’s Lady by Robin Lee Hatcher because it reminded me of the sort of romance novels I read when I was first cutting my teeth on the genre. The gold-embossed raised lettering called out to me; the buxom redhead on the cover clutching the impossibly-muscled ersatz Fabio who’s brushing a kiss along the redhead’s temple brought me back to my youth. After reading the book, I’ve decided that my thirteen-year-old self would have thought Pirate’s Lady to be the ultimate in romance. Unfortunately, my thirty-something self would have to disagree.

In 1849 England, Lady Jacinda Sunderland is set to marry the dashing and (we later learn) sinister Lord Fanshaw. While Jacinda is the typical romance heroine (e.g., perfect in every way), Fanshaw is a despicable human being. I hardly expected such heavy topics as human trafficking and plural marriage to be addressed in a romance novel circa 1987, but such weighty topics really set the tone of the book.

Jacinda is accidentally swept up in one of Fanshaw’s “shipping expeditions” (a.k.a., kidnapping women and selling them as sex slaves in Constantinople), only to catch the eye of the captain of the ship, Tristan Dancing. Despite being a privateer and supposed human trafficker, Tristan is a good guy. He has entered into this business arrangement with Fanshaw as a way of finding his sister, Gabrielle, who had been kidnapped and sold by Fanshaw a few years earlier. Jacinda and Tristan fall in love and must work together to break up the slavery ring, find Gabrielle, and defeat Fanshaw.

Pirate’s Lady is simply too complicated; there are countless sub-plots and characters. Jacinda and Tristan have several enemies each, though Hatcher doesn’t find a way to tie them all together.

The idea of being rescued by a dashing pirate is definitely romantic, but the romance is tamped down a bit when said pirate speaks in overly long, flowery speeches. In fact, every character uses more adjectives than an SAT test, which is awfully distracting. The love scenes were entirely forgettable, too, which is never a good thing when reading a romance novel. Basically, this book is like a 1980s-era soap opera put to print: heavy on the melodrama and corniness, light on the quality.

I decided to “kick it old school” by reading a romance novel that was written when I was nine years old. Unfortunately, Pirate’s Lady should stay in the past, along with parachute pants and banana clips.

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