Historical Romance Review: A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: one-star
Published: 1978
Illustrator: Robert McGinnis
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Pirate Romance
Pages: 373
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey


The Book

Johanna Lindsey’s A Pirate’s Love is her second romance, published in 1978. It features your basic pirate plot: a heroine is sailing across the ocean, all set to marry a cruel, faceless fiance. Her ship is boarded by pirates, and the captain takes her as his love slave.

And to no one’s surprise, the hero rapes the heroine. Over and over.

I liked Lindsey’s first book, Captive Bride, which had a similar plot, except with a desert sheik instead of a pirate. Even though it was a flawed book, it had its charm.

This book, on the other hand…

I Didn’t Love This Lindsey

I hated A Pirate’s Love for many reasons, some based on logic, most others based on pettiness. If you’re looking for a great review that does a better job explaining why this book blows, search elsewhere. I’m just going to go on a diatribe based on my ever-waning recollections of this “romance”:

The multiple rapes that the hero commits upon the heroine didn’t really faze me, although they did get redundant. After all, it’s a bodice ripper, and that’s what comes with the territory. If a hero raping the heroine offends you, best not read this genre. It was everything else in Lindsey’s second-published book that I despised.

Embrace the Hate

Hate #1

I hated Bettina and her knee-length hair that’s easily hidden under a hat! (Apologies to the beautiful Johanna, who actually had knee-length hair. She could have easily passed for one of her heroines.)

Hate #2

I hated how Bettina cried over her dresses and how ill-tempered she was and hearing about her flashing eyes that were blue one minute, then green another. Not blue-green eyes, mind you, that look different depending on the light or what colors they reflect. Her eyes just change color randomly with her emotions. She’s like a human mood ring.

Hate #3

I hated Tristan. He was such beta-fish, shaving his beard off when Bets demanded it of him. Some tough pirate, eh? Plus, I don’t like the name Tristan. I joke about the overused names in Romancelandia that are so overbearingly macho and repetitive, but Tristan Matisse just doesn’t inspire fear. He’s French, so why not Capitaine Sauvage? It may sound cliché, but it’s better than that prissy name.

Hate #4

I hated Casey O’Casey. There’s another stupid name for a stupid character.

Hate #5

I hated Bettina’s mother. Or was it the maid? Or was it both women who gave Bettina horrible life advice? Don’t remember, don’t care.

Hate #6

I hated the lack of romance. I hated the lack of variety in action. All the hero does is rape the heroine. It all seemed to blur together: rape, fight, escape, repeat; rape, fight, escape, repeat, etc.

Hate #7

I hated how antagonists were portrayed. In a pirate book set in the 1600s, it is natural to have Spaniards playing the villains to the English/French buccaneer heroes, but in A Pirate’s Love Lindsey laid it on a bit thick, reaching Leyenda Negra levels of ridiculousness. As their wicked deeds fell just short of infant necrophilia and cannibalism.

Hate #8

I hated the stupid coincidences at the end of this book. I mean, really? All of them happening at once?

a pirates love2
A Pirate’s Love, Arrow, British alt cover

Final Rant on A Pirate’s Love

Why would I despise A Pirate’s Love when it’s not so different from Johanna Lindsey’s early, more “serious-toned” works, like Fires of Winter, which was one of my teenage favorites? Or So Speaks the Heart, to which I gave a favorable review? The dimwitted, hunky hero rapes ( and forcibly seduces) the heroine in both those books.

Maybe I was feeling sick the week I read this, or maybe I was stressed by heavy loads of classwork, or I was on my period.

Or maybe–just maybe–this book does indeed reach epic levels of suck. It’s just so blah.

A Pirate’s Love is not the worst Lindsey book because at least I could finish it. As repetitive as it was, it did draw out emotions from me, which is more than I can say for her later soporific works I dislike.

Ah well. Lindsey wrote so many books that it’s natural I’m bound to dislike one or two of them. A Pirate’s Love just happens to be one of them.

1 Star (Cover points do not count)

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 1.8


Sun-Blazed Beaches
With languid tropical breezes caressing her breathtakingly beautiful face, Bettina Verlaine stood before the mast, sailing westward to fulfill a promise her heart never made – marriage to a Count her eyes had never beheld.

Then in a moment of swashbuckling courage, the pirate Tristan swept her away and the spell of his passion was cast over her heart forever.

But many days – and fiery nights – must pass before their love could flower into that fragile blossom a woman gives to only one man.


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