Good Shit Vs. Shit to Avoid: Pirate High Seas Romance!

In our last request for international romance, a few folks wrote in with romances that take place aboard a ship, and though the characters might be English, the locales were certainly not.

As a spin off, I thought I’d ask the Bitchery for pirate romance, or any high seas romance they’d recommend. I’m personally a sucker for pirate romance, because it’s a lot of fun to say, “YAAAAR!”

Pirate and high seas romances can easily be campy and fun, particularly because some of the problems that faced the crews at that time can mercifully be avoided, particularly the more awful illnesses. Seasickness? Ok. Often occurs, in fact. The trots? Oh, heck no.

Personally, I had a heck of a good time reading Pirate Prince by Gaelen Foley, particularly for the glee with which she amped up the more fantastical elements of the plot.

Also, there was a book I once read, and of course I can’t remember the title or even the heroine’s name, but she was a pirate with a long, wicked scar on her forearm. She also had an arch-enemy who was mad as a March hare who desperately wanted to impersonate her. Ultimately, the arch-enemy was attacked by a parrot who gave her a smiliar scar on her forearm, enabling her to launch her own evil-pirate career as a doppelganger to the heroine. But that’s about all I remember. However, it was an equally fun read.

So – what nautical tales of romantic mahem do ye recommend, mateys?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Zoe Archer says:

    How can it not be mentioned?  THE WINDFLOWER by Sharon and Tom Curtis.  I think for years readers have been clamoring for Cat’s story, and sundry rumors have been floating around that it was written but somehow got mired in a bunch of publishing politics, and now the ms. waits to be rescued like a princess in a tower…

    Oh, and YAAAR!

  2. 2
    Carrie Lofty says:

    The Charm School by Susan Wiggs, and, from the way-back machine, The Magic by the pre-inspirational version of Robin Lee Hatcher.

  3. 3
    Rosemary says:

    From my experience, there’s no such thing as a good pirate book.

    They’re all pretty crappy, and I still read every single one I can get in my grubby little hands.

    Lord, but I do love me a pirate. 

    They never fail to disappoint me, yet I keep coming back for more.

    It’s the same with books about librarians.  They always suck in some form or fashion, but I read them anyway.

  4. 4
    Ann Aguirre says:

    What’s that one book, you know, with the indomitable young heroine who runs away to sea to escape an Evil Guardian and pretends to be a cabin boy. Then the pirate captain starts feeling ‘inappropriate longings’ for said cabin boy, and then discovers he is not, in fact, yearning after cock when he saves the intrepid chit from going overboard and feels her boob? They then fall madly in love, thanks to the intervention of her magic hoo-hoo.

    Huh. I just described like 300 books, didn’t I? Never mind. I bet you can’t guess the title.

  5. 5
    Mya says:

    That sounds like Johanna Lindesy’s ‘Gentle Rogue’. Well, without the evil Guardian part, I think. It’s been so long since I read it.

  6. 6
    Megan says:

    It’s not primarily a romance, but On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers is a lot of fun: piracy, puppetry, and voodoo.

  7. 7
    Tonda/Kalen says:

    Captain Blood by Sabatini. It’s a classic and you can get for free on Project Gutenberg.

  8. 8
    SandyO says:

    Till Dawn Tames the Night by Megan McKinney.  It’s been years since I read the book, I do remember that the hero treated the heroine badly through the whole book.  I kept finding myself wondering why I was still reading, and by the end of the book absolutely loving it.

    And the hero.  Vachon.  I usually don’t like tatoos, and don’t find them a turn on.  But he had this tat, it was of a dragon.  It covered his entire back and the tail wrapped around his leg, the tip of which rested against his, well you can guess. ;)

    I need to go find that book and re read it.

  9. 9
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Tattoos. Read Bone Deep by Bonnie Dee. It isn’t about pirates, but it is wicked good.

  10. 10
    Dharma in the Falls says:

    :red: ashamed to say I can’t remember the name of the book but it was about an “inspiringly” independant woman who goes off in search of a long lost pirate ancestor’s bio info for her book and ends up boinking his pirate partner (see 200 hundred years old and very dead…apparently we all have sex with ghosts and think we’re dreaming….Bobby Ewing anyone)

    the plot ahem…thickens when it is revealed he is under a magic curse put upon him by aforementioned ancestor that anyone he loves will certainly die etc…..

    loved the hell outta that book….anyone know the name of it?

    oh and I loved Stephen Bonnet from the Outlander seriees…I know, I know

  11. 11
    Peyton says:

    I’m particularly fond of And A Star To Steer Her By by Philippa Grey-Gerou.  I’ve never met a pirate romance I didn’t like no matter how gawdawful they were…

  12. 12
    Robin says:

    I haven’t read a ton of pirate Romance, mostly because my love for The Windflower is so jealous and overweening, but I do recommend Jennifer Ashley’s pirate Regencies.  IMO they’re campy in the best possible way, and very, very entertaining.  Danelle Harmon has written a couple of interesting pirate books, too, although I can never get them straight in my head.  IIRC, one is darker and more complex, in one the hero pretty much steals the book from the heroine, and there may be a third one, but I can’t say for sure.  I guess that can’t really be counted as a recommendation, can it?

  13. 13
    ShuzLuva says:

    Okay, while not “pirate” per se, I do like The Captain of All Pleasures and The Price of Pleasure by Kresley Cole. They are both high seas adventure and thoroughly enjoyable.

  14. 14
    Rinda says:

    I just loved Jennifer Horseman’s Crimson Rapture.  Of course, I was like sixteen when I read it.  Wonder if I’d still like it now?

  15. 15
    Rinda says:

    Oops, that was Jennifer Horsman.

  16. 16
    Ostrea says:

    Seaflame, Valerie Vayle. Widow and orphan Genevieve is on a ship with her mother-in-law/foster mother when pirates attack. The pirate captain turns out to be Genevieve’s long-lost sister, and Genevieve impulsively decides to abandon her not-really family and join the crew. Lots of humor and good, if somewhat romanticized, accounts of shipboard life of the period.

  17. 17
    Mel says:

    The first pirate-themed book I ever read was Pirates by Linda Lael Miller. It’s about a woman on vacation in the Caribbean who somehow finds her way to the 17th century where she meets the aforementioned pirate. I was pretty young at the time, but remember enjoying it very much.

    Also, Books by You offers personalized romance novels where they plug in your name, the hero’s name, the degree of sensuality, etc, and send you the resulting book. One of them is called – wait for it – Pirates of Desire. I ordered it once when I had way too much time and money on my hands. Fortunately, it was actually pretty good. Not great, but fun to read.

  18. 18
    Jacqueline says:

    What’s that one book, you know, with the indomitable young heroine who runs away to sea to escape an Evil Guardian and pretends to be a cabin boy. Then the pirate captain starts feeling ‘inappropriate longings’ for said cabin boy, and then discovers he is not, in fact, yearning after cock when he saves the intrepid chit from going overboard and feels her boob? They then fall madly in love, thanks to the intervention of her magic hoo-hoo.

    OMG, Ana, I read that book! All 300 of them, actually, but in my defense, it was 20+ years ago and I can’t remember the title of any of them.

    Still LMAO at the magic hoo-hoo! (Head dances with inappropriate images of rabbits…)

  19. 19
    misreall says:

    They aren’t romances, but you must read Gideon DeFoe’s “The Pirates and” series. 
    And they do have a romantic reason for exsisting. 
    From Random Houses author page-“Gideon Defoe, who lives in London, is twenty-eight. He wrote The Pirates! to convince a woman to leave her boyfriend for him. She didn’t.”

  20. 20
    Karen says:

    Nothing beats The Windflower for pirate romances (and yeah, I wish there had been a book about Cat).

    Some of the first historical romances I ever read were pirate romances… it was a trilogy by Valerie Vayle:  Lady of Fire (with a very sandy seduction on the beach scene), the previously mentioned Seaflame and Oriana.

    I also second The Charm School as a great read.

  21. 21
    Esther says:

    There are two that I enjoyed strictly because they weren’t your stereotypical pirate romance. Once Upon A Pirate by Nancy Block is a pirate time-travel story, and Blow Me Down by Katie MacAllister is pirate/virtual reality game/computer geek. Both are semi-humorous fluff (i.e. not laugh-out-loud hysterical, but not horribly heavy stuff, either.

  22. 22
    Trash Addict says:

    My favorite pirate romance is also entitled The Pirate Prince, but it is by Connie Mason. I liked it purely for the steamy harem scenes, because why else would you read this stuff? It involves Turkish harems, fraternicide, English nobility and lots of kidnapping. I didn’t like the heroine as much as the one in The Charm School, the ending was rather too convenient, and the dialogue made me wince once or twice, but there is plenty of swashbuckling and ravishing. And, I dare you to resist the man-boobies on the cover, even if there is an echo of Fabio.
    How does one say, “Yaaarrrr” in Turkish?

  23. 23
    Shannon C. says:

    Heh. I remember Johanna Lindsey’s

    Gentle Rogue.

    It’s the only pirate book I actually remember reading. I think I was sixteen, and I think it was a guilty pleasure for me even then.

  24. 24
    canadacole says:

    I loved The Iron Rose by Marsha Canham…fun romp where the heroine was a kick-ass pirate.  It left me wanting more, but the three other books of hers that I tried were just unreadable.  I’m still trying to decide if this one was a fluke or if I just forgave it it’s flaws because it was a pirate romance ;)

  25. 25
    Ann Aguirre says:

    OMG, Ana, I read that book! All 300 of them, actually, but in my defense, it was 20+ years ago and I can’t remember the title of any of them.

    I have to admit, I have a real weakness for cross-dressing heroine stories. (I know!) But it just cracks me up to get into the hero’s PoV where he’s freaking out and fretting over his feelings for his young (male) ward, assistant, secretary, cabin boy…bring it all on; I find that shit hilarious.

    There’s a Laura Kinsale book that has a cross-dressing heroine that I especially like. Somebody help me out?

  26. 26
    Jacqueline says:

    I have to admit, I have a real weakness for cross-dressing heroine stories. (I know!) But it just cracks me up to get into the hero’s PoV where he’s freaking out and fretting over his feelings for his young (male) ward, assistant, secretary, cabin boy…bring it all on; I find that shit hilarious.

    Guess that fellow Shakespeare knew something after all. And what could be more highbrow than that?

  27. 27
    Jackie says:

    “I have to admit, I have a real weakness for cross-dressing heroine stories. (I know!) But it just cracks me up to get into the hero’s PoV where he’s freaking out and fretting over his feelings for his young (male) ward, assistant, secretary, cabin boy…bring it all on; I find that shit hilarious.”

    Totally with you guys on that one. You gotta read Seduced by Virginia Henley.
    The hero actually tries to geta whore to have sex with his, “ward,” and there is this righteous love scene later with Mardi Gras in Italy. So totally great and wow the hero is super hot.

  28. 28
    Mel says:

    But it just cracks me up to get into the hero’s PoV where he’s freaking out and fretting over his feelings for his young (male) ward, assistant, secretary, cabin boy…

    Pam Rosenthal’s Almost a Gentleman is great for that. Really very good!

    Now… back to pirates…

  29. 29
    Robin says:

    Pam Rosenthal’s Almost a Gentleman is great for that. Really very good!

    You mean for the miniscule amount of page time she lets that possibility dangle? 

    I want so much to like Rosenthal, but in both AAG and her much praised short story A House East of Regent Street, I just couldn’t help feeling she was writing down to the Romance audience (as an erotica author, I thought she’d be more daring), not intentionally or consciously, but unfortunately, nonetheless.  In both books she takes these extremely provocative character premises and reverts them back to Romance types by the end of her tale.  To me, that’s worse than starting with the type, because I get all excited that she’s really going to break out of the box and then when the sides come up and the top closes, I feel like I’m trapped inside rather than just peeking in.

    There’s a Laura Kinsale book that has a cross-dressing heroine that I especially like. Somebody help me out?

    It’s The Dream Hunter, one of my faves of Kinsale’s work, and I think she does a great job at keeping Arden’s connection to Selim present throughout the book.  Perhaps it’s because she makes his feelings about Selim so powerful and complex right away that she’s able to preserve Selim as a separate character, even after he and we become attached to Zenia, as well.  I loved that Arden felt at home with Selim, that Selim provided him a kind of companionable comfort, because it allowed Arden, I think, to have a more fulfilling attraction to Zenia (she becomes almost like two people who meet separate needs in Arden).  IMO TDH is one of Kinsale’s smartest books, although for me Seize the Fire just sneaks past it (and the beginning of My Sweet Folly may blow them both out of the water).

  30. 30
    Mel says:

    You mean for the miniscule amount of page time she lets that possibility dangle?

    I want so much to like Rosenthal, but in both AAG and her much praised short story A House East of Regent Street, I just couldn’t help feeling she was writing down to the Romance audience (as an erotica author, I thought she’d be more daring), not intentionally or consciously, but unfortunately, nonetheless.  In both books she takes these extremely provocative character premises and reverts them back to Romance types by the end of her tale.  To me, that’s worse than starting with the type, because I get all excited that she’s really going to break out of the box and then when the sides come up and the top closes, I feel like I’m trapped inside rather than just peeking in.

    Really, I wouldn’t know anything about that. I didn’t take the time to analyse the book in that manner. Nor have I read any of Rosenthal’s erotica, so I couldn’t compare.

    In any case, AAG is definitely among my favourite romance novels. I guess it’s just a matter of opinion and that’s fine.

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