Forget Jack Sparrow. Meet La Griffe. A pirate to swoon for, but not a ladies man. His eyes are firmly fixed on other shores!
Captain Christopher Penrose (Kit) is assigned as a valet to Sir George a British diplomat sailing to the Caribbean. Kit has been demoted after losing his ship, although not at fault, he has to pay penance. He boards the Hypatia a merchant ship and sets sail. The adventure that is about to await him will turn his world around and make him question his values. On the way the ship is attacked by pirates. He and Davy a ship's hand are taken as hostage and forced to work on the pirate ship.
However, what he discovers and learns is a way of life, although on the wrong side of the law, is more diplomatic and free than he has experienced in the navy. All the pirates have their story of misfortune to tell and have chosen this life rather than be condemned for something that they feel is unjust. The pirate Captain, La Griffe, is always in charge but only as long as the crew are happy with him. What I liked about this was getting to know about the previous lives of the crew and why they were left with no choice than to become pirates. Basically all of them victims of circumstance.
The plot is intricate and not only do the pirates have to contend with avoiding the navy but also have to deal with another pirate; Jago captain of the Garnet. After a joint attack and stealing a Spanish vessel laden with treasure the men forget some of their values and are blinded by the riches on the ship. Avarice raises its ugly head and forces Jago to behave in an abominable way which goes against many pirates' codex. Then the chase is on to right what has been wronged.
During all of this Kit is in conflict with himself. He starts to question the values that he has held dear until now and thought respectful and sees that some things in the navy are sadly lacking. The pirates appear to be educated men, just trying to survive the best way they know how. All the time trying to think how he can escape the Africa along with Davy
Not only is Kit in conflict with his conscience but also his feelings. He finds himself being ever more attracted to La Griffe and then the dam breaks. It is a slow build up, with Kit denying to himself what he feels and always pulling away. However, the pirates are more in touch with their feelings and as long as no harm is done to anyone are quite happy to live and let live. Two crew members, Protheroe and Lewis are a couple, open about their relationship and no one minds. La Griffe makes his advances on Kit and stays persistent until he breaks Kit down and there is no more denying the feelings between them.
This story has many layers and an intricate plot. Davy and Kit trying to survive among pirates, but also trying not to let go of the values they have been taught. Both of them going from resistance to acceptance to understanding for the pirates and their life.
It is also a book I believe you will either like or you won't depending on your point of view and what you are looking for. For me it is a well rounded historical novel with an m/m romance theme, rather than a m/m romance with an historical theme. There is an HEA and even La Griffe has one last surprise up his sleeve at the end. The romance theme is definitely there for sure, but it doesn't over shadow the life that such people led in those days.
It was a hard life aboard such a ship, whether navy or pirate, and I believe that Elin Gregory for me got the right balance. They can't be in the hold, cabin or focsle making out every five minutes when you have such a ship to sail, watches to organise and sleeping shifts. The amount of research the author must have done is incredible, all the nautical terms, the pirate language and vivid characters makes for a compelling read and throws the reader back to a time of the high seas where life was tough. Therefore it was realistic for this period and believable which is a good thing for me at least.
On a personal note what I really loved too was the Cornish family names and places mentioned. Being a born and bred Cornish boy myself you can't have a story about pirates and smuggling without having Cornwall in there somewhere. When I read the following quote in the book I had to smile as this is something I learnt as a child and every Cornishman knows.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable historical novel with an m/m romance thrown in. I personally couldn't have wished for more.~ This book was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review ~