Tell Me Lies by Claudia Dain
(Leisure, $5.50, R) ISBN 0-8439-4692-X
***
Lydia McIntyre is tied up on the deck of a pirate ship awaiting the decision of the pirate captain as to her fate. She decides that her only hope of survival is to be so alluring to the captain that he will keep her for himself, not give her to his men. Captain Dan does find her alluring and takes her as his.

Neither Lydia nor Dan is who they seem to be. She is actually a virgin, not the cool courtesan the Captain sees. Dan is actually Dandridge Prentis from one of the first families of Williamsburg. He had set out four years ago to hunt pirates, but discovered that the crew hired for his ship was a pirate crew. He had to become a pirate to survive.

Dan had finally gotten control of his ship just before Lydia's ship was taken. He plans to take the ship to Bath, North Carolina, release his pirate crew and hire a regular crew. None of the pirates know this. Lydia enchants him and he decides to keep her as his mistress after leaving the pirating life. She plans to run at the first opportunity. It comes as the ship is in sight of Bath. Dan has to fight his first mate to keep the man from stealing Lydia. While the fight is raging, Lydia leaps off the ship and disappears into the forest on the shore.

Dan spends several months looking for Lydia, the courtesan, in most of the North American ports. He finally returns to his home Williamsburg. He had been reluctant to appear there, because he is afraid that the governor who sent him to hunt pirates will think that he truly had turned into a pirate himself. But he has to seek Lydia. She has returned to the home of her understanding parents and sisters. They spot each other across the church after a Sunday service. Lydia runs and Dan has to work to find out who she is and where she lives.

Dan and Lydia are a confusing pair. Lydia particularly made me feel like I was watching a ping pong game because of her constantly changing opinion of Dan. First she hates the filthy pirate, then she wants him, then she is angry that he took her innocence (ever though he had no idea she was a virgin), then she wants him again. Her rate of changing her mind back and forth and back and forth was tiring.

Dan wants her desperately, but when he finds out that she really was an innocent, instead of trying to make up to her for her pain, he continues to talk to her as a wanton. He also is confusing in his treatment of one of his old school mates. He doesn't trust Ben Charlton because Ben is so outspoken about pirates. He is very rude and short with Ben in several scenes and then without an explanation, he changes toward Ben and spends and evening with him in a tavern.

I did like the setting of Williamsburg and the time period of the early 1700's. The descriptions of the community give a feel for the time. Some of the secondary characters were also well done. Lydia's sisters and parents and Dan's aunt all came across as individuals, not just background pieces.

With all of Lydia's sisters, Ms. Dain has several other possible heroines. It would be nice to see more of the McIntyre family and Williamsburg.

--B. Kathy Leitle


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