Horn of Plenty

Name: Gideon Horn, the Pirate Lord, terror of sea-going aristocrats, Robin Hood-like wealth re-distributor, Utopian visionary.

Falls For:  Miss Sara Willis, righteous prison reformer and champion of female convicts, stepsister of the Earl of Blackmore.

Story Recounted By:  Sabrina Jeffries, in The Pirate Lord (originally published 1998)

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Hangs Out In/On: The high seas, aboard the Satyr; an uncharted island in the South Atlantic.

Likes: Flies a horn-y Jolly Roger, yearns for a mother’s love, dreams of a utopian colony, kidnaps a boatload of convict women to get things started.

Dislikes: Anyone with a title.

Badass Hero Moment: Capture of the Defiant.

Badass Annoying Moment: The Atlantis/Utopia concept is so flawed it’s hard to take Gideon’s insistence on the kidnapping and forced marriages seriously.

(too) Frequently Described As: Thunderous. Taut.

Might Look Like:  wallpapers-pirates-caribbean-1024

Not really, but it’s funny to think about.  I’m pretty sure the re-issue cover image is Avon’s attempt at a mash-up of Jack Sparrow-beadazzled style with traditional chiseled chest romance hero.

To Read Or Not To Read?  First and favorite in the Lord trilogy.  Somehow SJ mixes together pirates, convict ships, struggles for survival, and class conflict while keeping the whole thing frothy and fantastical.  Yet in spite of the fact that it lacks grit and substance (even the “mean” convicted prostitute is a pushover for Sara’s good nature, and the pirates are as tame as Disney — think Peter Pan or Pirates of the Caribbean), it works as a setting for Gideon’s and Sara’s character-driven story.  There are very nice secondary romances, and Sara’s determined and ruthless brother the Earl of Blackmore certainly got my attention as the future hero of the next book.

(Possibly) Amusing, Tangentially Related:

Information about St. Helena, the island SJ used as inspiration for the fictional “Atlantis”

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), official site

Pamela Poll:

What is your favorite pirate romance and/or  who is your favorite pirate badass?

London’s Gambling King

Name: Julian Delbraith and/or Roscoe Neville?  A hero by either name, he’s titled and urbane enough to dazzle the ton AND he’s lethal enough — and enlightened enough — to run the only worker-friendly gambling empire in Regency London.  Of course he is.  How could it be otherwise?

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Story Recounted By: Stephanie Laurens, in The Lady Risks All (2012)

Hangs Out In: 1820’s London, dividing his time between Roscoe’s exquisitely appointed townhouse in Pimlico and Ridgeware, Lord Julian’s nephew’s ducal seat and residence of his gaggle of adoring female relatives (along with the teenage duke, Henry).

Likes: Innately noble spinsters of 29 years whose deep passions are ready to burst the bonds of Rigid Respectability; games of chance; giving in to his protective urges; having crime bosses as well as Bastion Club aristocrats for friends; sisters; Cynsters.

Dislikes: Waterloo deserters, kidnappers, having his female friends ignore his directives and follow him to dockside taverns.

Badass Hero Moment: Unreservedly shares his long-kept secret home and family with Miranda and Roderick in their time of need, thereby revealing his aristocratic alter-ego (and simultaneously putting them — especially her — under his direct and explicit protection).

Badass Annoying Moment: TOTAL Dog in the Manger behavior when HE decides Miranda is too respectable and good to associate with notorious and disreputable Roscoe.

(too) Frequently Described As: prowling; panther-like; LGK (London’s gambling king)

Might Look Like:  Toby Stephens (above)  as Rochester in the brilliant 2006 BBC  Jane Eyre …?

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To Read Or Not To Read?  I picked it up largely out of nostalgia.  So many wonderful reads from SL — I read her whole backlist about 6 years ago and still find the prospect of the familiar, cozy, dense, character-driven Cynster-esque tales appealing.  What can I say – I’m loyal! But this one falls far short of the greatness of the early Cynster novels, and even pales in comparison to the Bastion Club books in which Roscoe first appeared (which prior appearances are made much of). It could be me, but where I used to linger and enjoy the pages-long love scenes, I had to skim and skip the purply, generic and repetitive episodes where Roscoe and Miranda fly to heaven’s gate together.  The best thing about this outing is the book’s title, which, for once in a romance novel, cleverly captures both a thematically appropriate gambling reference and foreshadows a central plot element.  Miranda does indeed Risk All, and this book stands apart from most of SL’s oeuvre in that it is she who Decides and then Pursues the alpha hero, and not vice versa.

Tangentially Related … and Possibly Diverting:

Crockford’s Club: How a Fishmonger Built a Gambling Club and Bankrupted the British Aristocracy.”  A hilarious historical tale from the Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog.

Pamela Poll: What is your favorite romance where the heroine is the pursuer? Can an alpha hero and alpha heroine co-exist in the same romance?  Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

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