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Monday, July 18, 2011

Pirate Code by Helen Hollick

Pirate Code by Helen Hollick
Publisher: SilverWood Books UK
Genre: Historical, Sci-fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (303 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Ex-pirate Captain Jesamiah Acorne is in trouble. Big trouble.

All he wants is to marry his girl, Tiola Oldstagh, and live contented aboard his ship, Sea Witch. But Tiola's husband refuses to grant a divorce unless Jesamiah retrieves some barrels of indigo and smuggle them out of the Spanish-held Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The Governor of Nassau wants Jesamiah to go there too, to help incite a rebellion, and Captain Henry Jennings wants him to find a lost spy. To cap it all, Commodore Vernon of the Royal Navy wants to expand his fleet and craves the Sea Witch for himself.

As Jesamiah's hopes for a quiet life tumble about him, the onset of war with Spain scuppers everyone's plans. Hispaniola is governed by a tyrant who has promised to hang, draw and quarter Jesamiah if ever he sets foot there again, while the lovely widow, SeƱora Francesca Escudero would prefer to seduce him.

Intrigue, fights, betrayals and romantic passion follow Captain Acorne like a ship's wake - not the ingredients for a quiet life – and not Jesamiah's idea of the rules of the Pirate Code!

Tiola, midwife, healer, Jesamiah’s Acorne’s lover and comforter, knows she has to share Jesamiah’s love with Sea Witch, his pirate ship that yields to his touch and jumps at his command. She is a beauty that loves the Chase, is steady in battle, and gallops with joy over the sparkling, blue waters of the Caribbean with Jesamiah in command, but grumbles and responds in sulky contrariness to the command of others.

Jesamiah left Tiola to fend for herself in order to save Sea Witch. In Hispaniola, he finds himself in dire need of Tiola’s healing skills, both physically and emotionally. He opens his mind and tries to communicate with her the way they have for so long—nothing! He doesn’t know Tiola’s powers have waned with her illness and that she is on Stefan’s ship far from solid land where she needs to be to regain her strengths.

Tethys, soul of the sea, drains away more of Tiola’s powers. Tethys wants Jesamiah, the beautiful pirate with the ribbons in his hair, for herself and Tiola always thwarts her efforts. Tethys’ daughter, Rain, at odds with her mother, visits both Tiola and Jesamiah as she mulls over whether to side with her mother or Tiola in regard to Jesamiah.

While Tiola, Rain, and Tethys have a struggles of wills, Jesamiah struggles for his life in Hispaniola where he stumbles into a rebellion plot that brings to light facts about his ancestors that force him to rethink the horrors of childhood that shaped him into the man he has become.

The multitude of secondary characters, the secret agendas and intrigues keep the reader’s mind racing, almost on overload at times trying to separate all the characters and how they are connected to each other and to the various struggles. Greed and poor judgment fuel much of the action, which is truly barbaric at times. In the early eighteenth century when pirates roamed the ocean and unprincipled merchants, greedy government dignitaries, and often inept navel officers vied for supremacy, the very worst of human nature shows itself.

Helen Hollick, an amazing story teller, lures you into this time and immerses you in the battles, pain, struggles for power, and survival, that consumes the characters’ lives. Her description of the astounding beauty of the Caribbean stands out in sharp contrast to the ugliness of human actions. The reader’s senses are inundated with seeing, feeling, tasting, touching and smelling the good and the bad. Among all the rough and tumble, Ms. Hollick weaves in Tiola’s and Jesamiah’s love that is so special, so enduring, and so self-sacrificing that the reader marvels at the strength in it that reaches and sustains in unbearable times.

Pirate Code is spellbinding and is a wonderful ongoing of Jesamiah’s first voyage in the novel Sea Witch. Each of these books stands alone with its special time in Jesamiah’s life, but put together they are even better. Now I’m looking forward to the third voyage in Bring It Close.

Pirate Code throbs with life and whets the imagination with fantasy as Tethys and Rain toy with humans—a unique and breathtaking armchair adventure.