Sorry for the huge gap between updates. I helped my brother move across several states, spent two weeks with a friend going through chemo, and had a bunch of editing to finish up as well. I’ve also decided to revise how I’m doing these recaps from now on. The chapters are short, so it’s not a lot of work to do one a day…but it does get tedious. So instead I’m going to do two recaps a week. If I can fit more than one chapter into a recap, bonus!
In case you’re just finding these recaps, A Pirate’s Love is a historical romance novel by Johanna Lindsey written in the late ’70s. I’m a huge fan of Lindsey’s, but this book suffers from the awfulness of its era. Recaps start here.
TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE AND MIND GAMES AND GENERAL ABUSE
When last we left our intrepid heroine and the loathsome butthead hero, Bettina had been dragged back from her escape attempt and locked in Tristan’s cabin on the ship.
Chapter fourteen begins like so:
A soft, gentle pressure on her lips awoke Bettina from a sound sleep. She opened her eyes to find Tristan kissing her. It was a tender sort of kiss—the kind a husband would give his wife upon waking. She tried to rise, but Tristan held her firmly against the mattress.
It turns out the only time Tristan is willing to show Bettina any “tenderness” is when he’s a) kissing her while she’s unconscious and incapable of consenting and b) literally holding her immobile. Très romantique!
She protests what he’s doing and he laughs (because her telling her rapist and captor “no” is hilarious), then explains he’s basically going to…um…well. It appears he’s going to punish her by forcing her to orgasm from his assault this time. And this is one of those things that, in the context of a consensual BDSM scene, could be intensely hot. I bet my face was bright red at the sexy naughtiness of this when I was a kid. Unfortunately, now I’m more focused on how Bettina actually feels:
“With whom do you compare my lovemaking, Bettina, when you have had no man before me?”
“The fact that you sicken me is enough,” she retorted, but she could see the futility of her efforts. How could she make him angry enough to rape her quickly?
She wants to piss him off so he’ll rape her fast, rather than subjecting her to the added humiliation of body betrayal. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Unfortunately, her attempts don’t work and he continues his plan. When he does force her to orgasm, his reaction is…
…can you guess?
That’s right! He laughs at his rape victim.
Bettina heard Tristan laugh deeply, triumphantly, and she felt more humiliated by this than by anything she had gone through so far. So this was his revenge—to give her that wonderful, that unbelievable pleasure.
And at the height of the moment, she had clung to him as if she couldn’t bear to let him go.
“Do you still criticize my loving, little one?”
She looked up into his smug, smiling face and suddenly felt angry beyond endurance. At him, for he would never let her forget his power—and with herself, for losing control of her body in passion.
“Damn you, Tristan!” she screamed and pushed him off her body.
She yells at him about how much she hates him and actually uses the phrase “my body may have betrayed me”. In the midst of this, she realizes his threats to whip her (the threats that have been keeping her from fighting back) are empty. He was going on and on about how terrible the Spanish are for how they treat their slaves (lol the english were no better), and so was probably bluffing about subjecting her to the lash.
This paragraph is kind of awesome and reinforces my love of Bettina as a character:
She decided to wait before calling his bluff until it would be to her advantage. She suddenly smiled, and then she began to laugh at the bewildered look on Tristan’s face. How happy she was! Happy that she would no longer have to submit to this giant, this beast of a man, happy that she would no longer have to cower before him or endure his caresses. She could fight him now. And if his strength should prevail over hers, well, there was no humiliation in that. She would at least go down fighting. She continued to laugh.
YES. Laugh in his smug face, Bettina.
Unfortunately, her Mary Sue eyes make an appearance as Tristan freaks out over how weird she’s acting and noticed her eyes are now super dark blue.
“What color are your eyes, Bettina?” he asked wonderingly.
She stopped smiling and pulled away from his grip. “You have seen my eyes enough to know what color they are,” she snapped, turning her back on him.
“Your eyes were blue just now, blue as sapphires. Yet ever since you have been on the Spirited Lady, they have been green—until now.”
“Don’t be absurd. Eyes do not change color. It was merely the light.”
“Look at me now!” he commanded. And when she refused, he swung her around, only to find that her eyes were green again.
The whole time she’s been on the ship, Tristan has only seen her Magic Mood Ring eyes green. Now they’re dark blue. As established earlier in the book, green eyes = Sad!Bettina and the darker the blue, the happier she is. Aside from being a ridiculous way of establishing how the character is feeling, this does tell us something important:
The only time Bettina has been happy since she was kidnapped is when she thinks about beating the snot out of Tristan. And that makes her really, really happy.
Since Tristan is the dumbest pirate ever, he assumes her new good mood is a sign that things are improving between them and he agrees to give her sewing supplies–including scissors–to make herself some new dresses to wear.
There’s a far too long exchange at the end with Bettina’s nursemaid showing up again after Tristan leaves that just feels like filler. It’s more of the same with Madeleine worrying about how Bettina needs to be nicer to Tristan, though Bettina’s not having it now. It throws off the pacing of the whole scene and ends the chapter on a dull note instead of the more interesting exchanges between Bettina and Tristan. This is probably a combination of an editor who wasn’t taking the genre seriously (I’m lucky to have awesome editors who really make me work) and an inexperienced author (this was only Lindsey’s second novel, remember). When looking over your own work try to find what isn’t the story and remove it. Showing us every single moment of every day and letting us know about conversations that have zero plot or character development impact? Not the story.
Onward to chapter fifteen!