Raven by Shana Carrol is a pirate adventure novel with a complex heroine, Marie Celeste Ravenne, who evolves from a shy girl into a daring pirate captain.
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Raven by Shana Carrol
Illustrator: Ray Kursar
Book Series: Paxton #2
Published by: Jove
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Pirate Romance
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: IntrovertReader
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Raven by Shana Carrol (aka Christina Savage, aka the duo of Mr. Kerry Newcomb and Mr. Frank Schaeffer)—not to be confused with Evelyn Rogers’ Raven—is a riveting bodice-ripper. It’s a pirate adventure that features a kickass, resilient heroine whom I adore. It also stars a hero who isn’t worthy of licking the underside of her shoes.
This is one of those books I both hate and love, and I wavered for a long time about what rating to give it.
Raven is the second entry in the Paxton family series, although I’m not exactly sure where it fits in, as it’s the only one from the series I’ve read thus far.
Part One: Raven, the Beginning
The book begins in the Caribbean, in the early 1700s, where a young Marie Celeste Ravenne lives on an island called Mystere with her father. He is a reformed pirate, and she lives to hear his tales of past adventures. One day, Spaniards raid the island and kill her father. Before dying, he urges his daughter to survive however she can.
Marie and the women are taken as prisoners. But destiny has other intentions for Marie Celeste. A storm capsizes the ship, and she is the only survivor. She is saved by a passing English ship.
Marie will spend the following years of her life working in a duke’s household as his prized French servant. The Duke realizes Marie’s beauty and plans to use her as a trap to ensnare his enemies. He educates her, adorns her in beautiful gowns, and teaches unique skills, such as fencing.
Part Two: Raven in Love and Betrayed
Enter Jason Brand, who seeks to keep the peace between the Jacobite Scots and the new Hanoverian King. He’s also embroiled in a lusty dalliance with the Duke’s wife. Meanwhile, the Duke’s son has his eyes on Marie. He attempts to rape her, but Jason steps in and stops him. The two fight a duel of honor, and the Duke’s son is killed.
Jason’s plans to appeal to the King are in tatters, and he is arrested by the Duke’s men to be hanged. For weeks, the Duke’s minions torture Jason. In the meantime, Marie has developed an infatuation for Jason and brings him food when she can.
The two engage in an affair. And by affair, I mean affair. We later learn that Jason is married. His wife dies sometime afterward.
Jason manipulates Marie into helping him escape, promising to return. Marie drugs the guard, and then Jason flees. Months go by, but Jason doesn’t return.
In vain, Marie waits for him, knowing that danger awaits. A jealous servant informs the Duke that Marie helped Jason make his getaway. In a rage, the Duke dismisses his fancy plans for Marie. He gives her to the evil Captain Gregory, who rapes her.
As punishment, Gregory takes Marie on his ship headed for the colonies. Also aboard are men to be used as indentured servants. The crew members are vile, but the prisoners are an assorted bunch of primarily decent men. Over time, they learn to respect Marie.
A handsome officer named Pulham is kind to Raven. He promises to help her, and indeed, he does try. Pulham and Marie become lovers. Marie wonders if he will backstab her as Jason did. Unfortunately, despite having honor, Pulham is a coward, afraid of Captain Gregory’s wrath. So, like Jason Brand, he also betrays Raven.
Seeing that no man will be her savior, Raven becomes her own hero. Remembering her father’s words to survive at all costs, she rallies her fellow captives. They battle with the English sailors and take over the ship.
Marie is now their captain. The men follow her as she becomes a daring pirate.
Part Three: Raven the Pirate and In Love
This would have been an excellent opportunity for Marie to meet a new man, one worthy of her strength and courage. Alas, when Raven and her crew settle on an island, who is there but Jason Brand?
Jason now has a jealous native mistress, whom he treats abominably. He uses her for sex while he pursues Marie. And Marie, that fool, despite her best intentions, falls for Jason all over again. Ugh.
More adventures are in store, with villains plotting revenge against our brave heroine. Raven wins out in the end. But what does she win, really?
My Opinion on Raven
The Shana Carrol team created a frustrating read with Raven. The first half built Marie up as a wonderful character who learned from her experiences to grow into a super-capable woman. Her fatal flaw was that she thought foolishly with her heart instead of her head.
I love, love, love books with female pirates who kick ass! Marie was amazing, but Jason was the worst.
I’m a reasonably forgiving reader. With bodice rippers, I can accept a lot of cruelty from a hero: forced seduction, indifference, vengeance, betrayal, etc. However, I hate promiscuous cheaters. I don’t like them in real life and detest them in romance. Maybe I can go with it if the story is ridiculously over-the-top or written with a male protagonist who shows remorse.
Jason made no apologies for being an STD muffin, which was not cool.
He should have died a miserable death so Marie could have found a man who deserved her.
This is a bodice ripper, so despite the low romantic points, Raven is a relatively hot and sensual book with erotic love scenes.
Final Analysis of Raven
Raven was my first “Shana Carrol” experience, although I had previously read “Christina Savage‘s” American Revolution-era Hearts of Fire. I enjoyed that book, not so much for the romance but for the action and adventure. That’s about where I stand with Raven. In this case, I adored the heroine. Marie was awesome.
As for Jason, I wish the Duke’s men had hanged him. What an awful, callous man-slut he was! He cared nothing for the feelings of any woman he toyed with.
If I view Raven as a tale of the heroine’s journey, it’s a high four-star rating. Jason drags the story down. Marie was such a capable woman. I didn’t appreciate that she needed Jason to save her in the end.
I’ll skip the Jason parts and just read about Marie if I ever feel the need to relive her adventures. As a romance, Raven has significant flaws. It put me through an emotional wringer, though, so I can’t say I had a bad time with it.
|Rating Report Card|
Named for the bird of night, she vowed to fly free and soar on the wings of passion. Once, she had been Marie Celeste Ravenne, a shy and lovely free spirit plucked from her Caribbean island home to become the ward of a cruel, scheming English nobleman. But now she was Raven – a fiery temptress whose daring spirit astonished all who sailed the sea…whose sumptuous body excited the lust of the powerful men who longed to claim her, to use her, perhaps to kill her… and whose aching woman’s heart led her across elegant ballrooms and raging oceans in search of the dashing rebel chieftain who had won her love forever.RAVEN by SHANA CARROL