What is a proper English lady to do when a pirate moves next door? Add the newly titled viscount to her list of possible suitors? Take his wildly eccentric young daughter under her wing? Let the outlandish rogue kiss her with wild abandon? As everyday etiquette offers no guidance, Alexandra Alastair simply sets aside her tea and follows her instincts -- whether that involves rescuing her new neighbor from hanging, fending off pirate hunters, plotting against aristocratic spies, or succumbing to a little passionate plundering. Forget propriety! No challenge is too great and no pleasure too wicked, for Grayson Finley promises the adventure of a lifetime.
Jennifer Ashley pens a rollicking and sensual adventure that will take readers from the high society of London to the high seas of the Atlantic.
I was so impressed by my first Jennifer Ashley book, ‘The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie’ that I straight away went foraging through her back list looking for more gems. I read and was thoroughly disappointed by one of her earlier books, ‘Penelope and Prince Charming’. And I am yet again disheartened by ‘The Pirate Next Door’.
The plot starts in the thick of action when Alexandra Alastair overhears a pirate hanging her next door neighbour from a chandelier. Alexandra rushes to Viscount Stoke’s aid and enamours herself of him. But Viscount Stoke, Grayson Finley, is more than just her next-door neighbour. He is an ex pirate who has recently been hired to find the exiled French king. He is also caught up in a bitter jealous rivalry with one James Ardmore, whom Grayson stole a Tahiti beauty from years ago, incurring his vengeance. Grayson is also a new father, just six months ago having discovered that that Tahitian beauty gave birth to his daughter, Maggie, without his knowing twelve years ago. Then there’s a secondary story-line about Maggie’s governess, Mrs. Fairchild, who had a hot affair with Grayon’s ten years younger second-in-command, Mr. Jacobs five years ago and intends to rekindle.
There is just too much going on in this book, not helped by the fact that it gets off to a shaky start. The book literally begins with Alexandra saving Grayson from James Ardmore. When we meet her Alexandra has already met and been bewitched by Grayson Finely, and Grayson has likewise been casting smitten looks Alexandra’s way. Alexandra has also been in the process of compiling a list of eligible bachelors, hell-bent on having a better second marriage than a first in which her husband acted as cad around town with no discretion. That’s a lot of back-story recounted in summary instead of scene. We don’t even get to read about the first time Alexandra and Grayson clap eyes on one another – we are instead thrown headfirst into the helter-skelter plot that eventually turns into many, many helter-skelter plots. Phew!
When a plot is so thick and fast, the only thing that can really save it is a compelling romance. But it’s not there for Grayson and Alexandra. They fall into bed together rather quickly, and there’s a lot of emphasis on their sex life being the basis for attraction. I would have been more convinced of their romance if they’d taken more time to get to know each other and spark away from the bedroom. Jennifer Ashley is great at writing smut, there’s nothing lacking in that department, but the firmer foundations of the romance aren’t strong enough.
A shudder went through her as he touched her, all hot and dark and wet. “You beautiful, beautiful woman.”To be honest I thought Mrs. Fairchild and Mr. Jacobs’s romance was more enticing – the illicit older woman/younger man love affair had steamy potential. But it is a firm side-storyline, and as such there’s not enough to sink your teeth into and too much that detracts from the main romance.
“How can you say beautiful?” she whispered shyly, “I am such a mess.”
“I like you a mess.” He withdrew his hand and touched fingers to his lips, then closed his eyes to savour her.
When he opened his eyes again, she was watching him, red lips parted. “Lovely lady,” he whispered. “May I taste you?”
All in all, this was a disappointment. I have yet to find a Jennifer Ashley book I love as much as ‘The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie’. I’ll keep looking, but I’m becoming disheartened.