Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey

Dear baby Jesus and all the little angels,

Thanks for letting me have been born in 198-you-know-when. I am very grateful that I was not alive pre-20th century. Because even though things aren’t even close to perfect as regards rape/sexual assault, gender politics/performance, sexism, etc., they are slowly getting better (I am ever the optimist [this is a lie{sorry baby Jesus}]) When you consider that spousal rape wasn’t even considered to be rape before the 19th century and wives were considered chattel and couldn’t own property in their own name and didn’t even have rights to their own children, shit doesn’t suck nearly as much now as it did in, let’s say, 1667 (where this book/mega-shit-storm-of-epic-proportions takes place). Homigod (sorry again), I don’t really know where to begin.

I know you give everyone in the whole world their ideas, so I figure you need a refresher. Here’s the plot summary (it’s not really a plot so much as a stinking sack of shit):

Bettina Verlaine is being sold into marriage (its 1667, that’s what they did) by her father. Her dad is some snotty French dude with a major attitude problem, but Bettina has been striving her whole life to make him love her (SPOILER ALERT: he’s not really her dad). Anyway, because it’s 1667 and women didn’t really have many choices, especially if you were 1. Rich 2. Super beautiful  (flowing silver-blonde hair, slim hips, breasts like ripe apples but no purple eyes [her eyes are blue or green depending on her emotional state, like a mood ring but with blood vessels]) 3. No, really, SUPER BEAUTIFUL. Bettina’s intended husband lives in the Caribbean so she has to sail from France to go meet him. She leaves her beloved Mama (who had an affair, because unhappy marriage, blah blah, hence her dad/not-her-dad) but takes her beloved nurse with her as a companion. Natch, because of the pretty, all the dudes on the ship want to bone her, one gets whipped for trying, Le Capitaine on another ship sees her from afar, goes MINE!, kidnaps her and lies to her about killing people to get her not to fight him while he rapes her. So! Of course she hates him, right, but he makes her feel all tingly in the nether-bits.  She tries to escape (she’s on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, not a high probability of success) and cracks him one in the head with an I-forget-what. Some other dude thinks Le Capitaine is dead and decides that Bettina should be whipped until she is dead. But lo! Le Capitaine is not dead, only mildly concussed and uses the threat of whipping to keep Bettina compliant whilst he rapes her (repeatedly). Long story short: rape, rape, rape, reluctant desire, rape, rape, escape, revenge, reunion, Stockholm Syndrome, pregnancy, reluctant love, sword fight, revenge, reunion, marriage, baby, The End. (Whew! That was one alliterative sentence [not actually a sentence]).

Honestly, I’m not certain how I managed to finish this book. I’ve read other books that were not nearly as offensive to me and threw them away without a qualm. Maybe I was hoping that somehow it would not end the way I knew it was going to end (like with a timely miracle perhaps, you’re good at those). But no, it ended exactly the way I was afraid it was going to. And you know, even with all the rape, the worst part was all of the women who weren’t being raped kept telling Bettina that at least Tristan (Le Capitaine) wasn’t, like, really hurting her. He was just using her body. I just about lost my shit every time this was said.

I do have a sort-of sentimental fondness for Old Skool romance novels and will forgive them a lot that I wouldn't forgive in a modern novel, but this book crossed every line I have. And if the truly bad story wasn’t enough, it wasn’t even written well. Poor sentence structure, choppy dialogue, unclear timeline, cardboard characterization, I mean EVERYTHING that could suck, sucked.  

But anyway baby Jesus, I was half-afraid I would be struck blind by the sheer, overwhelming awfulness of this book. So thanks for saving me from that at least. But please find all the Johanna Lindsey books in the whole world and SET THEM ON FIRE (don't really do that, book burning is bad).

You're the best.


Buy It . Borrow It . Skip It

A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey


  1. DUDE. THAT COVER. THAT TITLE. How did you ever go "yes, this is totally a good idea"?

    NOT to say that rape isn't always vaguely present, like, somehere, but I feel like rape has really, really overtaken popular media, or at least overtaken my life (my MEDIA life, not my actual life, because jesus god). It's really awful! I am so OVER rape as entertainment! [I'm looking at you, Steig Larsson, even though you are dead.]

    And I have to say "Le Capitaine" is probably the best sounding French word/phrase next to "buerre blanc." I want to get a dog and name it Le Capitaine.

  2. AND THAT DOG WILL NOT BE A RAPIST, she hastens to add.

  3. I mean, this book was written in 1978 or something, so I was not really expecting much. But I've been plowing through Johanna Lindsey's backlist and this was available from the library (the digital library, I never saw the cover until I googled it for this post). But I think I may have to break up with Johanna Lindsey. Because of this book. Really, Prisoner of Desire should have been the breaking point (rape and revenge-rape, it's awful) but much like with LKH, I just kept going back. I am very possibly a book-masochist.

    Ditto times a million on the rape in/as entertainment bullshit. I mean, yeah sure, it's happening IRL, but the beauty of FICTION is that it's FAKE. So! You can write a book that doesn't have rape in it and it could still be awesome!

    Your Le Capitaine and my Mad Martigan can play together forever. Not