Once a Pirate by Susan Grant
(Love Spell, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52364-7
Being only February, I almost hesitate to say this, but Once a Pirate is the best romance I have read this year. From the opening chapter to the final page, I was sucked into the world of Carly and Andrew. Susan Grant’s debut has restored my faith in time travel romance.

Lieutenant Carly Callahan is not one to give up easily. Flying through a violent storm, she is doing her best to control her F-18C fighter jet, but ends up losing the battle. Plunging into the sea, she struggles to remain alert and prays for rescue. Her prayers are answered when she is pulled from the water by Sir Andrew Spencer.

Little does Carly know, but she has actually traveled back through time to 1821 and she has been rescued by pirates! To make the whole situation even worse, Andrew believes she is Lady Amanda, a woman betrothed to his mortal enemy Richard, Duke of Westridge. Andrew has a big score to settle with the duke, and the kidnapping of his fiancée is part of his plan for revenge.

However, emotions are running high on the ship. Carly is stunned to find herself attracted to Andrew, who she regularly refers to as Adonis. And while Andrew doesn’t buy “Lady Amanda’s” story of time travel, and she is his hostage, he can’t help but be drawn to her.

Will Carly be able to convince Andrew of her true identity? Will Carly have to endure life with the dastardly Duke? Will Carly and Andrew succumb to their growing passions?

The story opens with Carly’s plan crash, which immediately gets the action off to a rollicking start. Of course, the concern is if the writer can keep this exciting momentum sustained through the whole book, and Grant rises to the occasion.

I immediately was drawn to Carly and sympathized with her. She is a model for modern living, and is very practical person. She doesn’t immediately accept the time travel theory, and even does a little snooping to prove the fact. Also, she has had a very turbulent upbringing, and not the best of luck with men. Both were very believable, and I sympathized with her personal pain.

Andrew does come off as a bitter man, but never unlikable. While he may have kidnapped “Lady Amanda,” he must wrestle with his emotions and evaluate his life. Is the revenge he seeks worth hurting innocent people? Can he overcome his traumatic past? Will he find the happiness that he deserves? And I cared about what happened to him, I wanted him to find happiness.

Carly and Andrew have great chemistry, and what I particularly enjoyed was Carly’s attitude in a 19th century world. She is a modern woman, and therefore a bit more forward in dress and mannerisms that what Andrew is used to. She’s also very funny, the way she deals with her circumstances in the opening chapters are very amusing. How she talks to Andrew and acts in front of the crew provided me with several good laughs.

But what struck me the most out of all the wonderful elements was the ending. Lately, I have felt that I have been reading the same ending in every time travel romance. Of course they’re all happy ones, but the characters get to that happy ending in the exact same manner. What Grant has done is different, and I found it very refreshing

I received Once a Pirate as an uncorrected proof for review. At $4.99 this book is a steal, and I know I plan to get my hands on the final product. Susan Grant has a bright future ahead of her, and I hope she can write fast.

--Wendy Crutcher

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