REVIEW: Revenge of the Parson’s Daughter Or The Lass that Loved a Pirate by Jo VictorThursday, October 3, 2013 0:00
Stevie‘s review of Revenge of the Parson’s Daughter Or The Lass that Loved a Pirate by Jo Victor
Lesbian Historical Romance published by Bold Strokes Books 11 Aug 13
I really wanted to like this book, and I was prepared to allow some flexibility with historical details, since it’s a comedy about pirates and all that. However, the promise of the early chapters is rather let down by some of the later plot developments. Which is a shame, but my suspension of disbelief can only be stretched so far.
Kate is the daughter of a recently deceased parson; her mother, a lady of quality disowned by her family for making such an unsuitable match, died when Kate was very young. Not wanting to throw herself on the mercy of the local squire, in spite of – or possibly because of – having feelings for the squire’s soon-to-be-married daughter, Kate takes a position as governess to the children of an Earl. However, she finds herself stranded at an inn with no way of knowing when she will be transported the rest of the way to her new job. Despairing of finding anywhere to sleep for the night, Kate is rescued by the Lady Isabella, whose carriage has apparently met with an accident. Having agreed to share a room, Kate is in the process of fending off Lady Isabella’s amorous advances when she is unexpectedly kidnapped by pirates.
Of course, the pirates turn out to have been looking for Lady Isabella, and thus we get quite an entertaining comedy, while the mix-up slowly dawns on everyone. In the course of this, Kate meets and falls for Red Stevie, the daughter of a deceased pirate and now the pirate captain’s ward. The pirate captain is inevitably a gentlemanly sort, in mourning for the love of his life (Stevie’s father) and planning to sell his ship and disband his crew, once they have the ransom money for Lady Isabella. Whom, as we have seen, they have spectacularly failed to kidnap. Up to this point it is all quite fun.
Stevie and Kate are dispatched to the captain’s cottage, while the pirates carry out their plans, in order that Kate can be kept safe and yet not accidentally let on anything about her would-be captors. For reasons never quite explained, the cottage contains a large supply of dresses, which are too big for Kate but which Stevie is able to alter for her (Stevie being able to sew I get, I would just have liked to know more about the previous wearer of the dresses: whether it was the captain or one of his lovers or someone else entirely).
Kate and Stevie are getting on rather well, but then they have a series of fallings out and Kate is kidnapped by Lady Isabella, who just doesn’t get why any woman would fail to be attracted to her. And this is really where everything starts to fall apart for me. Too much of the plot feels contrived. Too many of the characters who turn up to help or hinder Kate and Stevie in their quest to be reunited are not only gay or lesbian but also remarkably keen on whichever other character proves the most useful diversion.
The two big let-downs for me, though, are, firstly, never finding out about Stevie’s mother and how she came to know Stevie’s father – if Stevie had been brought up by an uncle and the pirate captain, I might have accepted more of the unlikelier parts of the plot, to be honest. Secondly, I really couldn’t buy the idea that Kate’s cousin, a viscount, would even think that he could get away with running off with a former pirate captain (even after producing letters to show that the man and his crew had been privateers all along), rather than settling down to produce the next generation of his family with whatever suitable bride he could find.
Kate and Stevie’s happy ending mostly fits the period, especially given that they are able to find benefactors (through Kate’s restored family connections and a little blackmail) to fund their project. Sadly, although the beginning chapters are a fun romp, the let-down of the unlikely ending for the secondary characters, as well as the rather-too-long middle section of the novel, means I can only give this one a slightly reluctant C.
What’s a poor pirate to do? Stevie has never met anyone quite like Kate, her not-so-helpless captive. Too bad the bold buccaneer swore an oath to preserve the virtue of the lovely parson’s daughter—an oath Kate has no intention of letting Stevie keep. But Kate has a problem of her own: the gorgeous Lady Isabella, a wealthy aristocrat who is happy to use kidnapping and blackmail to get what she wants—and what she wants is Kate.
Jane Austen was never like this!
Read an excerpt.