What A Pirate Desires
by Michelle Beattie
(Berkley Sensation, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-425-22493-9)
I love pirate stories. The adventure, the romantic ocean setting, and the action can be so much fun to read. If you can combine that kind of story with a dynamite couple, you have a sure winner - and What A Pirate Desires is just that.

Samantha Fine had a wonderful, loving home growing up. At 17, she loved her parents, her baby sister, and dreamed about her future as a married lady bringing up her own family. Then pirates attacked her family’s merchant ship. Samantha and a couple of crew members survived, only to be sold into slavery to a viciously sadistic plantation owner.  Samantha and her men eventually escaped, stealing the owner’s ship, and she remade herself into fearsome pirate Sam Steele.

The only thing Sam desires from life now is revenge on Dervish, the brigand who murdered her family and killed the life she dreamed of. She hears of a pirate named Luke Bradley, who used to sail with Dervish, and he has the wounds to prove it. Sam plans a daring jailbreak to free Luke, hoping that he will help lead her to Dervish. 

As the tortured lady pirate crosses the Caribbean to find her revenge, Luke becomes fascinated with her. Sam is starting to like Luke, which is frightening, as she has been shunning men since her terrifying experience at the plantation. Luke and Sam are drawn to each other even as they uncover the darkness that each of them hides. And what will Sam do with their fragile trust when she discovers that Luke has been lying to her?

Samantha is one tough lady heroine. While she may be 17, innocent and sugar sweet at the beginning of this story, her trials make her into a strong survivor. She hasn’t chosen the path she is taking, but she loves her crew as a family and her ship as her home.  Samantha is emotionally fragile, and has built careful defenses around herself. She’s just trying to hang on until she can avenge her family, but really has no idea where to go from there. 

Luke is a tough, sexy, charming fellow. He has a sense of humor that Samantha desperately needs. Luke is shrewd enough to see the inner turmoil Samantha tries to hide. He coaxes, kisses, teases, and forces the truth from her, while the intimacy he hopes to kindle ignites. Unfortunately, when Luke learns the truth of Samantha’s past, he has a hard time dealing with their new relationship. Luke plays a happy go lucky, flippant pirate but emotional commitment isn’t something he wants. 

Together, Luke and Sam are jarring. Emotionally tangled, verbally sparring and heatedly sensual, they bring out the best and the worst in each other. Confined on the ship, they are constantly together. When Sam’s loyal crew suspects that Luke is lying, she is honest in her reactions, which endeared her to me. What A Pirate Desires could have relied on a great basic premise, but it really became a character study while telling a love story. I rarely find fictional characters that are so likeable, unpredictable and addictive.  This book is destined to become a favorite of pirate and romance story lovers alike. 

--Amy Wroblewsky        

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