SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Reviewed by Blue Falcon
This review is of Passion’s Bride, aka The Captain’s Lady by Jo Goodman.
The book begins in 1809, where the fledgling American navy hopes to enlist the services of the pirate Alex Danty to help sink British ships. One person, Captain Tanner Cloud, this book’s hero, knows Danty won’t help. Cloud knows this because he knows Alex Danty and knows that SHE–the heroine of the book–was already attacking British ships for her own personal reasons. Primarily to kill a certain Captain Conrad Travers for revenge.
Alex and Cloud become lovers, both knowing that Alex will escape him if she gets the chance. She does, and for two years, they are apart. Cloud later arrests Alex, who is charged with inciting war with Britain. However, she would be let go if she agreed to help the Americans fight the British and help enlist Jean Lafitte to help, which Alex won’t do.
Alex is broken out of prison by Cloud, who is then arrested himself for springing her. Alex, her crew, and his crew work together to get Cloud out of jail. It comes out that the order to jail Alex didn’t come from President James Madison but one of his surrogates, acting without Madison’s knowledge. That scandal is later exposed.
While at sea, The Dark Lady, Alex’s ship, is damaged badly in a storm. She and one of her crewmen are thrown overboard, and for a spell, Cloud thinks Alex is dead. He later discovers that is not the case when Travers brings Alex to Barataria, Jean Lafitte’s island. A final confrontation ensues between Cloud and Travers. Cloud kills Travers, and later, Cloud and Alex have their Happily Ever After.
Alex and Cloud are two of the strongest characters I’ve read in any book recently, and possibly ever. Alex does not ask to become Captain Danty. She does it, and if others don’t like it, too bad. She is strong and single-minded in her pursuit of the villain, Travers. Even though Cloud doesn’t like what Alex’s goals are–and tries to dissuade her at first–he eventually realizes that if he truly loves her, Alex has to love all of her, even the parts he disagrees with. That is highly unusual, as most romance novel heroes–through either words or actions–aren’t always supportive of the women they claim to love dearly.
The beginning of Passion’s Bride/The Captain’s Lady is strong. The ending is strong. The middle, however, is a bit mushy. I also didn’t like the ending, where Cloud had to fight Travers for Alex. Although to be fair, Alex had been thrown overboard, suffered exposure, been in ocean water, and had been physically abused by Travers before the final confrontation, and therefore was in no condition to end Travers’ miserable life. However, having Cloud–the man–kill Travers instead of allowing Alex that freedom kind of undoes the female empowerment mantra that Ms. Goodman was striving for throughout the book.
There are quite a few sex scenes, but most are relatively mild. Readers looking for hot sex, Ms. Goodman’s not your author.
Whippings, stabbings, assault, and battery all occur here. The violence is not graphic.
Passion’s Bride/The Captain’s Lady is a very good, emotional book. With a few tweaks, it could have been even better.