Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Four women, a long-lost treasure, and more than one “thief of hearts” share a destiny beyond time.
To foil a map thief, librarian Emma Boyd searches for a pirate’s long-lost treasure map. She’s aided in her search by investigator Randi Marx, who proves to be as frustrating as she is beautiful. The treasure map Emma and Randi seek belonged to Thomasina Farris, a pirate who disappeared from the Caribbean in 1715. Did Captain Tommy steal an entire treasure from a Spanish galleon and escape? Was she convicted of piracy and hanged by her neck? Did she die of a broken heart when she lost the woman she loved?
In her race to find the map, Emma learns that pirates not only steal treasure, but they also steal hearts. When Emma discovers Captain Tommy’s fate, she must decide her own as well, choosing between romance…or revenge.
[Originally posted on Amazon 4/14/09]
I’m just going to admit right up front that pirate stories are one of my guilty pleasures. I say guilty pleasure because, let’s face it, what makes pirate stories fun isn’t an author being a stickler for ultra-correct depictions, but instead building on the mythological framework that has developed around pirates. I love finding novels about female pirates. Lesbian pirates? I’m there! Well, that’s not just reserved for books, I love me them lady pirate movies too. I don’t care how much it was panned, Cutthroat Island is a fun-filled romp!
But, just because the above is true it doesn’t mean that I’ll freely and frivolously hand out a lot of stars simply because a book has lesbian pirates in it. Which means that in my opinion, A Pirate’s Heart earned every star. I’ve read both of Catherine Friend’s other books too and they were enjoyable, but I strongly believe that this one is superior. It made for fantastic vacation reading as I was lounging on a couch in front of a cheerily burning gas fireplace last week.
Normally I don’t like books that have two separate stories going that may only be tangentially, or long later in the book, related to each other. It can be distracting and annoying, probably because it’s so difficult to do well. And also because much of the time as a reader I may only really be interested in one of the stories. In this case I thoroughly enjoyed both of the stories and I thought Friend did a fabulous job of weaving them together without losing or mucking up the threads. As Friend said in the Acknowledgements, “A really good pirate story has a lovely wench, and what’s better than one wench but four?” I couldn’t agree more!
Each story has its own tone. The pirate story is more serious, with more serious characters. The modern day story has a much more light-hearted feel to it and Emma expresses a lot of humor in her thoughts and how she says things. I think the differences in tone help set the stories apart and they end up nicely balancing each other.
While the pirate part of the book did use some of the pirate fantasy trappings we pirate fans enjoy so much – such maps to buried treasure, Friend did an excellent job of including a lot of detail based on historical fact. It’s pretty easy to just throw caution to the wind and say, well it’s a pirate fantasy romance, we can just make up what we want. But it was obvious that Friend did at least some research into locations, life at sea, how pirates operated, pirates freeing slaves, and so on. The slave issue made a nice and natural lead-in to a bi-racial relationship.
The modern day story was an interesting look into rare book libraries with some very fun plot twists and mysterious tidbits left for the reader as bait along the way. All strung out on a mini-road trip type of adventure. Though, there is also a fantastical plot point included, which requires one to suspend their disbelief. But since we’re already talking about buried pirate treasure I didn’t find that requirement to be a strain.
So if you like pirates and mysteries, if you like a very interesting mix of characters, if you think four women are more fun than two, if you like historical fiction and adventure fiction, and if you enjoy a book that’s a pleasure to read from start to finish, give this one a try.