Welcome to yet another exciting recap of A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey, a historical romance novel first published in 1978.
When last we left Bettina, she was cowering in horror as the pirates took her ship.
Hey, do you know what today is? It’s the first of May.
NSFW language in that video. Bless you, Jonathan Coulton. I just hope this chapter doesn’t ruin the beauty of the day for me.
Chapter six opens with the pirates talking about “the wench” and searching the ship while Bettina overhears them and hides. Madeleine decides that their best hope for survival is to tell the pirate captain to ransom them to Bettina’s betrothed Comte de Lambert. Madeleine also warns Bettina to stay quiet and to absolutely not let the pirates know she can speak English. The fact that Bettina speaks English is obviously going to be important to the plot later on. I wish it would stop being hammered home. Whatever ends up happening is going to be robbed of all drama because of this.
The door they’re hiding behind is busted down and Bettina screams at the sight of the non-sexy pirates.
This man Tristan stood directly behind Bettina, and she turned around to face him. What she saw made her gasp, for this man was even taller than the other one. He was truly a giant! He was only a few inches from her, and Bettina had to look up past his broad chest to see his face. His eyes were a startling pale blue, and a long, thin scar started in the middle of his right cheek and cut a path into the dark gold of his beard.
Bettina stared for long moments at the thin scar, and the man’s muscles tightened and his eyes grew icy.
He grabbed hold of her arm, making her wince, and started to walk her across the deck.
Madeleine tells him that Bettina can’t speak English, but he doesn’t care and his crew crack jokes about how he doesn’t need her to speak for what he wants. Shockingly, this makes Tristan (he hasn’t been given a name yet, but obviously this is Tristan) stop. He yells at his crew to shut up and get to work, then apologizes to Bettina for hurting her when he grabbed her. This doesn’t count as a “pet the dog” moment so much as a “stop stepping on the dog’s throat” moment, but I guess it’s better than nothing.
Madeleine tries to lay the ransom plan down on Tristan, but he doesn’t appear to be impressed and has his first mate Jules drag her off to lock her up somewhere, leaving Bettina alone with him. Bettina’s terrified and considers leaping over the railing of the ship to drown herself as a preferable end over whatever the captain is going to do to her, but Tristan takes her off to his cabin instead.
“My men seem to think you are a beauty, Bettina,” he remarked casually. “But frankly I don’t see how they could tell with that black powder covering your face.”
Bettina instinctively tried to rub away the black. But when her hand came away clean, she realized he had tricked her.
“So you understand English after all. I thought as much. Why did your servant lie?”
They talk a bit and she again tries to convince him to ransom her, but he’s not interested.
“Then what will you do with me, monsieur, throw me into the sea—after you have raped me?” she asked sarcastically.
She stared at him, aghast. She had expected a denial, but without one, what could she say?
“Is—is that your intention?” she asked fearfully.
He stared down at his tankard of wine for a moment, as if contemplating her question. Then he looked at her, an amused expression on his face.
“Take off your clothes.”
I don’t know what to do with this. I…just…no. This smirking sociopath is going to rape her and happily labels what he’s going to do as rape, in a book where rape has been discussed and understood to be a very bad thing, and…he’s the hero? Again, there’s no wiggle room. No grey area. There’s no “oh, he just doesn’t understand how awful rape is” or “it’s not really rape-rape”. Dude is calling it motherfucking rape. I’m horrified, yes, but also completely confused. I can see this being somebody’s rape fantasy, but I can’t see it being a romantic fantasy. What the hell is going on?
She refuses and argues with him. He says he will return her to her betrothed, but not without bedding her first. And now he says he doesn’t like rape, so she should just consent and make it all good.
“I repeat, Bettina, I am going to make love to you. Nothing will save you from that. But I don’t want to have to force you. I don’t like rape.”
“But it is rape, monsieur, for I don’t want to make love!”
“Call it what you like, as long as you don’t fight me.”
You can’t tell, but I just had to walk away for an hour to rage-eat fudge brownie ice cream and play video games. Now let’s try this again. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe Tristan is an asshole who’s messing with her head, but isn’t actually going to do anything to her.
Tristan tells her that he has some men from the Windsong as prisoners and his crew just straight up love torture. In exchange for their lives, he offers her a bargain.
“Your submission for the lives of those men. You I will have whether you fight me or not. I will not be denied you. But I will spare the lives of the prisoners and set them free in the next port on one condition—that you don’t fight me.” He paused and smiled. “You have lost already, Bettina, for I will have you no matter what you decide. But the prisoners have everything to gain. They will live and not be harmed if you agree. I want your answer now.”
Bettina doesn’t want anyone killed or tortured–remember, this is the woman who threw up over the whipping of the man who attacked her–so she agrees to do whatever Tristan wants. He leaves to tell his crew to not assault the prisoners and tells her to get naked while he’s gone. When he comes back, he finally tells her his name, then suggests she have some wine because he figures taking her virginity is going to hurt.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
She chugs down some wine and he starts kissing her. There’s the classic “oh, hey, this is kind of arousing” response on her part, usually meant to make the rape in these sorts of books Magically Not Rape. Except she doesn’t just melt into his arms. She begs him one more time to let her go:
“Yes. Oh, please, Tristan, please don’t do this to me. I ask you once more, please spare me this shame!” she pleaded uselessly.
“No, little one, it is too late for that.”
“Then be done with it!” she said sharply.
And so to punish her for being so awful–begging him not to rape her, geez!–he…well. He rapes her. It’s painful, but at least it only appears to last about thirty seconds.
“I’m sorry, Bettina. I didn’t mean to be so quick, but you have a sharp tongue. Next time, it will be better for you.”
He leaves her, she stews in hatred–as she absolutely should–and then Madeleine is sent in to see her. It turns out there aren’t any prisoners at all, other than the two of them. Now Bettina has moved past hatred into wanting to murder Tristan. I am so with you, girl. But Madeleine begs her to be sensible, because taking revenge will only get them killed. Nothing can stop Bettina’s rage now, though.
This makes me want to go back in time and hug my ten year old self and then burn this book.
Well. I’ll be back with chapter seven on Monday.