by Sandra Sookoo, historical (2010)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-622-7
Sandra Sookoo's Angel's Master is basically a story of a pirate hero, Ethan Williams, who abducts Jacqueline Massey, our heroine, because he'd like a woman to keep his nights warm when he's at sea. Jacqueline is actually a reluctant spy tasked by her father - who's with the American Navy - to play the saucy barmaid to seduce (without going all the way, of course) the identities of pirates in the neighborhood and pass these names on to her father.
As you can probably tell, Ethan's intention in abducting Jacqueline is not exactly heroic. And yet, in this story Jacqueline is more than happy to put out to Ethan while railing against being forced to send many people to their deaths at her father's hands. She doesn't seem to care that the pirates she brought to justice may have a good reason to be called, you know, pirates. Does she think those pirates help hapless old ladies cross the Atlantic Ocean or something? Then again, Jacqueline immediately pegs Ethan as a pirate just because she has never seen him before and he is wearing an expensive-looking ring. If this is how she picks her pirates, I can only imagine how many poor innocent merchants she has sent to the gallows.
Jacqueline comes off as quite daft, honestly, because she is the kind of woman who is against violence at any cost. Don't you dare hurt the man who tried to rape her! Violence is bad! No, seriously, I'm not joking. Because of this, when she pooh-poohs the Other Man who took a bullet because he was distracted by her "Don't fight! Peace and kittens!" attitude, Jacqueline comes off like a heartless wretch who hypocritically consorts with the people whose violence she claims to despise. Of course, Ethan who plays dirty comes off like a scum in this instance too. Yet Ms Sookoo seems to operate under the assumption that Jacqueline and Ethan have the moral high ground in this story.
The impression I get after reading Angel's Master is that the author doesn't seem to be attuned to her characters, because what she tells me about her characters and what she shows me about these characters can be very different. All in all, this one feels more like a draft that could a few more rounds of polish.
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