by Kresley Cole, historical (2003)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-6649-7
Kresley Cole's king-kong-titled debut The Captain Of All Pleasures promises to be a swashbuckling tale of high seas and passions between daring ladies and adventurous men. What it is, however, is a lunch soiree reenaction of a Marsha Canham novel by silly spoiled dandies and inane bluestockings, and it's not a halfway decent reenaction at that. Between contrived "innocent hellion" antics and a hero who seems to degenerate mentally as the story progresses, readers looking for talented and skilled heroines and daring pirates may come away disappointed.
The book kicks off at an unintentionally creepy note when our twenty-year old heroine Nicole Lassiter crashes a brothel and scowls at her father giving a tart some comforting bosom massage. Between those two and the tart, I learn that Captain Jason Lassiter - Nicole's father - has arranged to race with Captain Derek Sutherland from England to Australia. Unfortunately, bad things happen that ends up with Jason in jail and Nicole spending the night (platonically) in Derek's bed. Never mind that her daughter walks into brothels and all, Jason demands to know if Nicole is compromised. I love such responsible fathers who know where their priorities lie.
Never mind if her father is unable to race. Nicole will do it herself! Then more silly things happen - storms, bad guys, et cetera - and Derek and Nicole will end up on the same boat. In the same cabin. He's of blue blood, so is she. She's innocent, he's vowed never to marry because... well, let's just say he really has a good reason not to marry. Having a reason, however, doesn't excuse his lack of inclination or lack of initiative taken to overcome this problem. His mother plots. Her grandmother scowls in disapproval. Daddy, oh Daddy, where are you, Daddy?
For all claims to be headstrong and independent, Nicole doesn't actually do anything in this story. She's either being led around by Derek - in bed and out - or she's scurrying around reacting to situations. If Nicole is a silly spoiled bluestocking masquerading as a pirate queen though, Derek is the biggest disappointment. The man really comes off a dim-witted spoiled brat. His brother Grant appears early in the story to babysit him throughout the story. I learn that without Grant running the estates Derek neglects in his Popeye the Sailor Man gig, Derek would be a pauper by now. Grant gives Derek sage advice. Grant tells Derek how to do the right thing. By the end of the book, I'm sure Derek's a lummox in more ways than one. Without Grant to slowly guide him step by step, Derek will still be staring at the mess that is his personal life, trying to figure out which end of his body his brain is located at.
The middle of the book doesn't sag though. It's the bed that sags. The author has a way of lengthening her love scenes. Once Derek and Nicole start, they just won't stop. Or drop. If the rest of the story isn't too interesting, at least the love scenes are pretty nice.
I won't worry if I don't like this book that much, however. Kresley Cole has the foresight to give the hero several brothers whose books are coming next. One of the those books will hit the mark. Have to admire the author's foresight, surely. The Captain Of All Pleasures however falls short of his wondrous reputation by several inches.
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