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.
CONTENT NOTE: No rape in this chapter, but the mind games and casual references to assault continue.
When last we left Tristan and Bettina, he changed their course without telling her and was taking her back to his rape island, while she expected to go to Saint Martin and be rescued by her fiance the Comte de Lambert.
Chapter seventeen opens with a time jump. Oh, editing be praised we don’t have to watch every monotonous moment. It’s been eleven days since Bettina was taken captive. She’s been wearing Tristan’s clothes at night to save her own from being torn when he attacks her, which he finds hilarious. There’s a reference to one night when Tristan used body betrayal against her, which she cried through and hated even more than his cruelty.
Man. What a romance, huh?
Madeleine announces that they’ve arrived at an island and both women assume it’s Saint Martin, where they’ll be ransomed and finally back to freedom. They’re amazed at how beautiful it is, and how unlike the populated island they expected. There’s no sign of an indigenous population or western buildings.
Instead of realizing that they’ve been taken someplace else, they decide the most likely explanation is that the pirate ship sailed to a deserted part of the island to avoid trouble. Only one other ship is visible in a cove and it looks like a sister to the Spirited Lady. There’s no crew to be seen on that ship either.
Bettina turned to walk back to her cabin, and ran into Jules’s massive chest. She gasped and stepped back with wide, terror-filled eyes.
“If you ladies will return to your cabins and collect your belongings, you will be taken ashore presently,” he said politely. Then he looked to Madeleine and his voice softened. “If you will hurry, please. The first boat has already been lowered, madame.”
“Where—where is the capitaine?” Bettina ventured. It was the first time she had seen Jules since the day he had tried to whip her, and no matter how much Madeleine spoke in his defense, Bettina still feared him.
“Tristan is busy.”
“But he said the exchange would take place aboard this ship. Why are we going ashore?” Bettina asked.
“The plan has been changed.”
Yes, the plan has been changed, but Bettina still doesn’t know what Tristan is doing. She goes back to the captain’s cabin to collect her dresses and the silver comb Tristan gave her. Not out of sentiment for him, however. She specifically takes it because it’s a costly item and she wants to throw it away so that Tristan is out the money he spent on it. She plans on doing the same with the dresses.
I feel you, Bettina.
Even while taking the boat to shore, Tristan still keeps this farce going. On the beach, Bettina starts to stroll away, assuming it will take time to bring the whole crew ashore, but Tristan stops her and says they’re going. Everyone but Madeleine, Jules, and ten crewmen are remaining on the ship. Bettina demands to know what’s going on. Tristan continues to be evasive, just saying that there’s a house nearby and she can take a bath.
When we arrive, we get some house porn:
They soon reached the house that Tristan had mentioned, which looked more like some kind of fortress. The building was large and built of heavy white stones. The first floor was square, and a royal palm tree stood on either side of the small front door. The second floor was U-shaped, forming a courtyard open to the front above the door. A small jungle of beautiful flowers and plants grew in pots in this courtyard, some reaching above the second-floor roof, and some trailing over the edge of the courtyard. The front-door palm trees framed the potted jungle and towered above the house. Beautiful rolling lawns, immaculately cared for, surrounded the house on all sides. The most beautiful flowers, with red, yellow, orange, even purple and blue blossoms, grew at the edge of the lawns and against every wall. The house seemed sturdy and welcoming, and she almost wished that it belonged to the Comte de Lambert, for she would have liked to live here.
Gosh, I wonder if she’ll end up living there someday.
A huge and angry man stands in the doorway, blocking their entrance:
“I would hardly be recognizin’ you, Tristan, were it not for your watchdog Bandelaire,” the man challenged.
“I can see you haven’t changed, Casey,” Tristan replied harshly.
“That I haven’t. And I’m still young enough to take you on, lad.”
“But you’ll still have to fight me first, Casey,” Jules growled.
“Enough!” Tristan said. “It’s time this old sea dog and I had it out.”
And then they wrestle and Bettina realizes they’re all just friends being really weird together. I’ve seen this sort of fake-out in a lot of fiction and it always annoys me. Yeah, people will joke around with their friends with playful insults in the real world, but nobody ever actually comes across as remotely threatening. Obviously the trope is popular, but it always has me rolling my eyes.
The more interesting part of this exchange is how terrified for Jules’ safety Madeleine is. Bettina realizes that Madeleine feels all weird and maternal towards Jules now, which is gross, considering that Jules has been enabling Tristan’s abuse and rape of Bettina.
Oh, also, Casey thinks Bettina is hot.
“Be this another one to add to your harem, lad?” a man’s voice asked.
Bettina turned and saw that Casey was staring directly at her. She felt the blood rush to her cheeks.
“I have no harem, Casey, as you’re well aware,” Tristan smiled. “One spirited lady is all I can handle at a time.”
Jules laughed, understanding which spirited lady Tristan was talking about. But Casey was perplexed, thinking of Tristan’s ship.
“Is this woman married, then?” Casey asked.
“No, but she’s spoken for, so cast your eyes elsewhere,” said Tristan.
“And here I thought I was in for a change in me luck. Be there no room for bargainin’?”
I remember something from when I was a kid and read this and now it makes this exchange super upsetting, far more so than just pirates being nasty. Let’s just say Jaime Lannister approves.
Tristan assures Bettina that Casey was just playing around and she shouldn’t get so upset when dudes try to buy her off of him.
Tristan shows Bettina to a room she can use and orders water to be heated for her bath. He continues to be evasive about where they are and what’s going on. Poor Bettina just really wants a proper bath and doesn’t notice how cagey he’s being.
While she’s exploring the mostly empty and fairly dusty room, she hears giggling from the first floor.
“Are there other women here?” she asked in surprise.
“Yes. A couple of girls from the village just came,” Madeleine replied, “to help in the kitchen. They’re pretty girls, golden-skinned, dark-haired. They speak Spanish.”
“Really?” Bettina said. “I thought Saint Martin was occupied only by the French and Dutch.”
“Apparently not, my pet.”
And there, with Bettina being thoroughly manipulated and not knowing where she really is, the chapter ends.