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HaBO: He Was the Pirate the Whole Time

This HaBO comes from Emily, who is trying to find this historical romance:

I recently listened to the Fated Mates episode about Twins in romance, and it made me think of a book. I read it within the last year but it definitely had old school vibes.

The heroine is this feral child who is isolated and left to run wild by negligent parents. She eventually learns she has to marry to save her family home (maybe for a younger brother?) and so she goes to London, learns to use her feminine wiles, and manipulates a man into marrying her. When she and her autocratic new husband just can’t get along, she runs off with his brother, a pirate, only to learn at the end of the book that the pirate is just her husband’s alter ego – it was him the whole time! So even though it seems like a book about twins, the big reveal is that it’s actually not.

Ring any bells?

This is what I like to call the Scarlet Pimpernel trope. And yes, we do have an older Rec League.


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  1. Judith says:

    I am pretty sure this is a book by Eloisa James, but I can’t remember the title. I am working on it! I know I’ve got it somewhere, unless I donated it.

  2. Valor says:

    I feel like this might be The Pirate and The Pagan by Virginia Henley. If it is, please be advised it is from 1990, and not everything has aged well.

  3. Ms. M says:

    I’d agree that it sounds like The Pirate and the Pagan. That said, here’s a link to a discussion of two other aristocrat/pirate double books: Some topics are weirdly common in romance. I’d like to know the time management skills involved in balancing a noble/pirate career: those are both full-time jobs!

  4. DiscoDollyDeb says:

    I don’t know this particular book, but back in my “consuming-bodice-rippers-by-the-gross” days, I read several books where the heroine would be torn between the “good twin” (a kind, upstanding man) and his identical “bad twin” (always an absolute tiger in bed)—only to discover, in the penultimate chapter, that the men were one-and-the-same.

    /The tropes may change, but the angsty road to the HEA remains the same.

  5. cleo says:

    @Judith – in The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James, the heroine hates her former guardian and falls for his brother (but they’re the same person). But no pirates in that one.

  6. Judith says:

    @Cleo: upon further investigation I find that you are absolutely correct. I was conflating The Taming of the Duke (twins, no pirates) and Seduced by a Pirate (pirates, no twins). (It’s not often I get to use the word “conflating”.)

  7. Anon says:

    Is it Taste of the Devil by Dara Joy?

  8. Tina K says:

    I agree that it’s the Pirate and the Pagan. I ended up buying it based off this HaBO and it fits the bill perfectly. Warning though – it’s complete crazysauce… there’s a secondary storyline about King Charles and his mistress, the heroine lands in prison for 6 month at the hands of a sadist, just so much wild stuff in there. I had forgotten just how extra 90s bodice rippers could be

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