The Care & Feeding Of Pirates
by Jennifer Ashley, historical (2005)
Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5281-4


Maybe I'm just a cynical old woman but I find myself becoming very impatient with stories where the entire conflict stems from the heroine being a clueless nitwit who obviously does not know what she wants from the hero. This heroine is paired with a hero who believes that hammering his privates into the heroine is the solution to all their problems (of course it isn't) so The Care & Feeding Of Pirates comes off like an exaggerated play of two childish people going to extremes just to fill up the word count.

This book takes off from the subplot in The Pirate Hunter, where Honoria Ardmore, harboring the veritable crush on the hero like every heroine nowadays seems to do, happily gave her virginity to the pirate on death row, Christopher Raine, and married him before he died. I guess I can say that any genteel woman who happily ruined herself with a pirate that her own brother put on death row probably needs to get her head checked, but is there any use? Romance heroines nowadays, I tell you. They're all barmy.

Christopher isn't dead. If he is, the author won't be able to write this book and that will be a waste indeed, after all, so all hail Contrivance. It keeps our beloved authors well fed, after all. It turns out that Honoria's brother arranged for Christopher to go after going through the trouble of apprehending him. What can I say? Thank heavens for Contrivance or Ms Ashley will be reduced to working for slave wages in some windowless office. That was then. Today, now that her brother has married Diana (see the previous book), Honoria feels that she cannot impose on Diana anymore so she must marry another man. But before she can do that, Christopher comes back into her life and wants her to go back with him to sea. Thank heavens, because obviously Honoria isn't thinking of what will happen if her darling husband-to-be perforates the ninny chalice with his not-so-mighty dipstick (only the heroes have mighty dipsticks, after all) and realizes that Honoria is lacking the seal of virtue that marks her body as untouched as her brain.

My biggest issue with this book is that Honoria doesn't want to go with Christopher but she doesn't have the right reasons to not want to do this. She keeps saying that Christopher is a pirate. Fine. If Honoria comes out flat and says that she doesn't want to be the wife of a seafaring pirate, I can respect that. But it turns out that Honoria doesn't know what she wants. Instead, her entire nonsense about not wanting to go with Christopher boils down to her believing that he doesn't love her, and this is after he has told her several times that he does, mind you. Because of the birdbrained heroine, the hero has to set up a bargain with her - she will sail with him for a month and at the end of that time he will let her go if she still doesn't want to be his wife - and she then does everything in her power to make his life difficult so that he will dump her. I wonder how this idiot woman intends to marry for true love if she is utterly ruined after her husband dumps her but what can I say? She's barmy.

Christopher doesn't help his case when he just steamrollers Honoria over instead of listening to her. She doesn't like this? He'll shag her and she'll like him now. She wants that and he doesn't? Never mind, she'll see his way, he's sure, after he has shagged her. She is angry with him? Oh, time to get his candlestick waxed again! Christopher is amazing, truly, because he has this remarkable ability to drive Honoria more barmy than she should be. And a very barmy Honoria, people, is a very terrifying spectacle to behold.

There are plenty of seafaring adventures, missing sibling subplot, and treasure hunts but the core of the story - being the tale of two very immature people squealing in indignity or groaning from childish sex - is one truly lacking in substance. Maybe if I set my standards really low - like not wanting credible emotional drama or at the very least characters who act their age - I will enjoy this book better. In its current form, all it can offer is some one-liners and plenty of childish tomfoolery. The Care & Feeding Of Pirates is too much on the light, fluffy, and insubstantial side for me.

Rating: 68


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