The Maiden's Revenge
by Hillary Fields, historical (2000)
St Martin's Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-97282-2

This is a great pirate romance with lots of sea adventures, but I must say the usual Romance Clichés 101 spoils my fun somewhat. But all in all, not bad, not bad at all!

Our heroine Lynnette Blackthorne AKA the notorious Captain Thorne is a man-hating and cold-blooded pirate queen out to avenge her sister's rape and murder. One day she sinks Daniel Bradley's ship (on its first voyage too - talk about unlucky), and she takes Daniel for ransom. She stashes him in her secret island, and here they have fun chasing each other and bickering while indulging in tonsil tennis every other day.

I have fun reading this fast-paced romantic adventure, but several things keep nagging at me, preventing me from allocating this book a space on my keeper shelf.

One, these pirates must tell me where they find all these polite crew mates. I insist. These pirates don't act like pirates, they act like... nice people! They don't even speak like pirates.

Two, why on earth would these pirates let a young woman lead them? Oh, I forgot - these are pretty decent pirates.

Three, why is Lynnette a virgin? And why is she so unnerved to see a naked man? What does she do when her men are on shore leave? Attend etiquette school? How boring to read about a pirate queen only to discover that she's actually a debutante in disguise!

On one hand, I'm to accept that Lynnette's a pirate queen. On the other hand I'm to accept that she's also Pure and Innocent. This smacks too much of the Madonna/Woman Of Ill Repute complex and too much of a hundred-and-eighty-degrees-turn for me to accept wholeheartedly. In making too much concessions to the dreaded Cookie Cutter Romance, The Maiden's Revenge sabotages itself.

Still, it is an accomplished debut. I'm impressed, really, and will definitely keep an eye out for this author's sophomore effort.

Rating: 76

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