The story lies

The Pirate Lord - Sabrina Jeffries

Silly heroes and a stupid plot line, all happening in 1818.

Sara is a young British lady, a sister to an earl. She is also a reformer, concerned about the welfare of women convicts. She is joining a convict ship transporting women prisoners to Australia because she wants to document the indignities the convicted women suffer at the hands of sailors and guards.

Gideon is an American pirate, a former privateer. He hates British aristocracy. The reason for his hatred is explained later in the book, and it’s very private. It’s about his family, not about his American ‘freedom and equality’ principles.

Tired of piracy, he wants to settle down on a small island and build a community of equal citizens – a utopia, in his own words. His men want it too. But even a utopia needs women – wives for his men. So he attacks the convict ship and liberates the women. Not all of them want to be liberated, but he’s the captain and a pirate, so nobody dares to complain, except Sara. She becomes the women’s advocate.

Of course, Sara and Gideon fall on love, but that’s not my complaint. Sara wants Gideon to let the women go, because she herself wants to go home, not live on an island with snakes and bananas and not much else. She is also appalled by the pirates’ former occupation.

While I sympathized with her personal predicament, I was reading all this soap-opera-worthy drivel and thinking: what if she succeeded in her quest? What if Gideon let the women go. Sara would go back to London, to her earl of a brother and her ladies’ charity committees. What would the convicted women go to? Back to prison? To be transported to Australia again? Their fate might be better with the former pirates. At least they would be free wives, not servants with a prison sentence. Of course, some of them have husbands left in England, while others are transported with their young children (what a horror that must’ve been – the author doesn’t dwell on it, of course).

The theme of this book is a serious one, but the treatment it gets from the author is very cavalier, as if the prisoners’ concerns didn’t matter. As if only Sara mattered – this arrogant, spoiled, and naive noblewoman. And why did all the convicted women listen to her? Why did they choose her as their spokeswoman? Their interests are clearly at the opposite ends.

I like romances. I read romances, especially regency romances. I know they are not real, rather fairy tales set in the past, but at least most of them try to pretend to some level of historical accuracy. Or to psychological truth. This one, on the other hand, didn’t agree with my worldview at all, nor with my senses of right and wrong. This entire story felt like one big lie.