Sara Willis is the stepsister of an earl and a passionate, bluestocking reformer. In her latest endeavor, she wants to document the abuses that convict women face on the transport ships bound for Australia. In order to do this, she goes undercover aboard the ship, and with the help of her stepbrother's hired man, Sara manages to keep the women safe from the lecherous advances of the ship's crew. But a few weeks into their voyage, the ship is accosted by pirates who kidnap the women, wanting to take them to an uninhabited island to become their wives. Sara is shocked and appalled at their captain, Gideon's demands, and once again, takes up the women's cause, trying to reason with him. He relents in allowing the women to choose their husbands, but only gives them one week to do so, and that includes Sara. Although physically attracted to him, at first, she's off-put by Gideon's autocratic manner, but the more she gets to know him, the more she desires him and eventually she knows that he's the only man for her. But when her stepbrother arrives to rescue her and manipulates her into complying, Sara has no choice but to leave Gideon with no goodbye and only a promise to return.
Starting out as a cabin boy, Captain Gideon Horn has spent the last twenty years at sea. After earning enough money to buy his first ship, he became a privateer for the American government, but when that work dried up, he and his crew turned to piracy, targeting the English aristocrats Gideon hates. After amassing enough wealth to take care of them for the rest of their lives, Gideon has decided it's time to stop pressing their luck and retire. They've found an uninhabited tropical island they've dubbed Atlantis where he hopes to build a utopia free from unfair governmental systems. The only problem is that there aren't any women and they haven't had any luck enticing ladies to come to Atlantis willingly. When Gideon hears of the convict ship full of women, he thinks it's the perfect solution. They'll rescue the prisoners from a cruel fate, and in return, the ladies will be so grateful to have their freedom, they'll gladly marry the pirate crew. But Gideon didn't count on a stubborn slip of a woman who plagues him with her annoying requests while also making his body burn for her like no other. Although he's inclined to dislike Sara because of her aristocratic upbringing and that a match with her would be ill-advised, he soon can't bear to think of any other man touching her. But when Sara disappears from their island paradise, Gideon worries that his worst fears have come true in spite of her promise.
As an avid historical romance fan, I've been aware of Sabrina Jeffries for quite some time and had heard good things about her, so I've been eager to try out her work. I finally got around to it and The Pirate Lord ended up being my first choice. It's a fun, witty, pirate-y romance about Sara, who is the stepdaughter of an earl and a passionate reformer. As such, she goes undercover on a ship that's transporting convict women to Australia, hoping to document the deplorable conditions these women face, both on the ship and upon arriving in New South Wales, so that she and her Ladies Committee can perhaps enact reform. About two weeks into their journey, the ship is accosted by pirates led by none other than Captain Gideon Horn aka The Pirate Lord. He and his men have decided to retire from the pirate life and have found a lovely deserted island where he wants to build a utopia, and the only thing they lack to make it perfect are wives. He figures a ship full of convict women would be happy to be "rescued" from their fate, but he didn't count on a stubborn bluestocking who plagues him with her demands. Gradually they come to a compromise on rules and length of time for courting. Although Gideon demands that Sara also choose a husband once their allotted time is up, she still hopes for eventual rescue, but she didn't expect to be seduced and actually fall for The Pirate Lord himself. For his part, Gideon has no desire to tie himself to an exasperating woman like Sara, but at the same time, she stirs his protective and possessive instincts and he can't bear the thought of anyone else touching her. But when Sara's expected rescue party finally shows up, it could spell the end of their budding romance.
Sara's biological father died in debtor's prison when she was quite young and she doesn't really remember him. As a result of losing her husband in such a way, Sara's mother became a tireless advocate for prison reform, which placed her in the path of a kind earl who admired her progressive ideals. The two eventually married and Sara was raised by him, but with both parents now gone, she's taken up her mother's mantle of a reformer. Her latest project is trying to document the abuses of convict women, many of whom are being transported to Australia. Although Sara's stepbrother, Jordan, the new Earl of Blackmore, is adamantly against her traveling on the convict ship, Sara is equally determined to go and eventually gets her way. During the journey, she stubbornly advocates for the women's rights and against the lustful intentions of some of the ship's crew members. When Gideon kidnaps all the women and takes them to his island to become wives for his men, she continues to stand up for their rights even though he sometimes frightens her. But as she gets to know him better, she realizes that although he may be stubborn, he's not an unreasonable or cruel man. In fact-blast it all!-she finds herself attracted to the handsome pirate and succumbing to his seductiveness. But knowing that Jordan had sent a man undercover to look out for her, she hopes that he'll eventually be able to mount a rescue. However, by the time the rescue party arrives, Sara no longer wants to leave. I loved Sara from the opening pages where she stands up to her brother in her quest to accompany the convict women and how she never gives up her fight for the women's rights, no matter who she has to convince. She fearlessly goes toe-to-toe with Gideon when he captures them and eventually reasons with him. Even though she can be quite stubborn when it comes to her causes, she also has a gentler side that recognizes the hurt in Gideon's past and wants to comfort him when things don't entirely go as planned.
Gideon's mother left when he was very small and he grew up with an abusive father who drank himself to death by the time Gideon's was twelve. Orphaned and alone, he fended for himself until a sea captain took pity on him and hired him as a cabin boy. Eventually he earned enough money to buy his own ship and became a privateer for America, but when that work dried up after the war was over, he turned to piracy. He harbors a burning hatred for English aristocracy, and over the years, he's taken great pleasure in humiliating them and plundering their ships. However, Gideon is keenly aware of the dangers faced by pirates and how their lives are usually shorter than the average man, so after spending twenty years at sea, he's finally ready to settle down. He and his men by chance found an uninhabited tropical island where he wants to build a utopia free from the influence of cruel governmental policies. The only thing missing are women to be their wives and the convict ship seems like the perfect answer to their dilemma until Sara plagues him with her demands for the women's rights and starts to make him see that his vision won't be much of a utopia when half their members are only there by force. Although Sara annoys him at times, his body also burns for her and soon he truly begins to care for her and can't abide the thought of not making her his. But when her brother arrives and she disappears without even saying goodbye, he believes his worst fears are coming true. Gideon can be a pretty stubborn alpha male, but luckily he never pushed my buttons. He proves to be fairly reasonable and can be persuaded to a different way of thinking. I sympathized with his past and his reasons for loathing the English aristocracy, but his love for Sara overcomes his hatred. He shows a kinder, gentler side when dealing with her without ever losing his pirate-y edginess.
Overall, The Pirate Lord was a very enjoyable story. I liked the feminist theme and how the author demonstrated that women in that era didn't have a lot of choices and that they often had to forge their own path. In the beginning, Jordan eventually capitulates to Sara accompanying the convict women, but later in the story, he behaves in a pretty autocratic manner toward her, keeping her from the man she loves. Many of the convict woman are being transported for ridiculously petty "crimes" such as stealing bread for their hungry children or for defending themselves against powerful, lecherous employers. Then there's Gideon who thinks he's giving them freedom and a choice, but he, too, is essentially dictating until Sara makes him see reason. I love how everything comes together so that they all get truly happy endings of their own choosing. I also loved that the book doesn't take itself too seriously. At times, it can be dramatic and has some tension, but at the same time, it's lighthearted and fun. Gideon and Sara may be opposites in many ways, but they gradually come together and prove to be perfect for one another and I also loved the twist that gives Gideon resolution for his past hurts. I also enjoyed the secondary romances for a few of the supporting characters. The entire story as a whole was a pleasure to read. It may have been my first book by Sabrina Jeffries, but it definitely won't be my last. The author teases Jordan's story during the epilogue. His book, The Forbidden Lord, is next in the Lord Trilogy, and I look forward to continuing the series to see what kind of woman it takes to bring him to heel.
You May Also Enjoy
The Gift by Julie Garwood
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook