Lady Charlisse Bristol sets off on a voyage in search of a father she never knew, only to find herself shipwrecked on a desert island. Near starvation, she is rescued by a band of pirates and their fiercely handsome leader, Edmund Merrick. Will Clarisse win her struggle against the seductive lure of this pirate captain? While battling his attraction to this winsome lady, Edmund offers to help Charlisse on her quest-until he discovers her father is none other than Edward the Terror, the cruelest pirate on the Caribbean. Can Edmund win this lady's love while shielding her from his lecherous crew and working to bring her father to justice?
The strong points of this is the writing style, little to no errors, three-dimensional characters, a very visual world(you could see what was happening), and the author clearly did her research on seafaring as the sailing aspect was impressively written.
For those things, I gave it two stars.
The book started off strong. Charlisse has taken control of her life and fled her uncle's home to find her father. She's shipwrecked alone on a tiny island, but is able to fend for herself to a degree. Now I personally hate it when there's royalty, or some other "pampered" person who is put into a "take care of yourself" situation and they're either completely useless and brain-dead or they're magically skilled and prepared for any hardship.
Why? Because just because someone isn't used to hardship doesn't mean that they're unable to think logically. But it also means that unless they had an unusual upbringing, to be ready for a quest where they're roughing it is laughable. I want a balance, and at the start, it looked like Charlisse had that. She knew enough to find water, bring a bucket, hide in the trees at night, but she didn't really think past that to things like fire, shelter, or fishing so when she ran out of fruit on the island, she wouldn't starve.
Luckily, or not, a band of pirates lands on her island and she waits until they pass out drunk before sneaking in to get some food. Turns out one pirate isn't asleep. Merrick drinks little, and therefore is sober and alert. Since Charlisse is ill, he makes sure she's brought back to health, yada yada.
Charlisse is in her historical undergarments(white) and goes for a brief dip in the ocean. She comes back, and well, we know how that is. Merrick does a leering glance from head to toe. She tells him off and later in his pov we get to see him mentally berating himself. I won't lie, I got REALLY excited!
I'd just been complaining about men in books being creepers and not respecting women and not having the character think, "oh gosh, I should treat women like people and not candy displays."
But from that point on everything went downhill. I mean COME ON. Where do I even start. Okay, let's start with the creeper Merrick. Because Merrick is the "least" creepy guy, it's supposed to make him good. Charlisse isn't officially a prisoner, but this guy is her only ticket off the island and it's not safe outside of his cabin, so she lives in the cabin.
Occasionally she sees Merrick, usually at dinner and bed. Despite knowing how frightening it'd be to be female and trapped on a ship with all men who want to get a piece of you, Merrick does nothing but make Charlisse uncomfortable. He gets in her personal space, says creepy things, and despite regretting leering at her, he KEEPS doing it. I respect the struggle, but the whole sorry, but go right back to doing the same thing is not cool.
When I thought you know, nice, romantic pirate, I was thinking something more like Wesley.
The guy is supposed to be reformed and working on being a better person, but he just barely restrains himself from taking advantage of Charlisse and never stops being on that edge where Charlisse(or the reader) can be 100% sure of his motives. And suddenly it magically becomes okay. Like, he kisses her, and then they're in love, and from that point on all the stuff he's doing is okay because he now loves instead of lusts her?
BUT get this!! They only spend a little time in the evenings together where they do nothing but fight while he makes her uncomfortable and she's not sure if she should be scared of him or not!!
Charlisse is a terrible character who has zero control of her own destiny and is like a prop that's bounced from place to place. First she's stowed in Merrick's cabin, then she's scurried off to a house to hide while Merrick does man things, and then the ONLY time Charlisse takes any initiative since the very beginning of the book is to leave the house to go to a tavern with no weapons, defense, or telling anyone where she's going so that she can speak to Edward the Terror, the most ruthless pirate on the seas, and ask him nicely to admit he framed Merrick. Say what??!!?!
AND THEN she gets snatched by one of the nasty men in the tavern, duh, she knows it's not a good place, and is rescued by Edward because he wants to kidnap her for himself. She's then stuffed in the hold of the ship for x amount of time, only to be brought out by the other bad guy, Kent, and stuffed in his room for awhile, and then Edward finds her and brings her to his room, and there she pretty much stays until Merrick rescues her. And I mean, he first attacks the ship, rescues her that way, and then rescues her from a pirate who decides to snatch her for some fun play time because she didn't stay in the room because she wanted to watch. And then she's again snatched by Kent and used as leverage. I mean really? really? Am I the only one seeing this!! Sorry for double memeing you, but it has to be done . . .
Charlisse is almost always someone's hostage, or stuck in someone's cabin, even if it's "for her own safety." And let's break the above paragraph down now that we know how many times she's been kidnapped/used for leverage.
FIRST, everyone and their neighbor(sorry, but there's no polite way to say this) wants to bang Charlisse. Is there no other women in this world? Because EVERY. SINGLE. MAN. Has absolutely no goals beyond screwing Charlisse. Merrick at least holds himself back, but every pirate and tavern dweller does not. Desensitizing people to rape, or in this case attempted rape, is so not cool. But the sheer amount of times Charlisse is almost raped in this book made it really, really hard to not after awhile not care. Part of the issues is Charlisse didn't care! Trying to put myself in that position, I would imagine I'd be pretty shaken or emotionally messed up. Charlisse is unfazed, and because she's not reacting and it becomes a frequent plot device, I stopped being fazed by it.
So Kent, the other bad guy is shown to be a problem and Merrick just keeps letting him go, and he keeps coming back and causing issues. He's on his upteenth attempt to get his paws on Charlisse and she kicks him so hard in the stomach that he flies backwards and hits the wall and is knocked out. But then Charlisse is "too weak" to move the bloody idiot away from the door so she can get out. I kid you not, she sits down on the edge of the bed and waits for him to wake up. I AM NOT JOKING!! She's so weak she can't move the guy? Right, yeah, whatever. Even if she is, what person wouldn't keep trying. Inch by inch, with hours to spare, she could've done it. She doesn't tie him up, shoot him, nothing. I'm sorry, if someone made multiple attempts to rape me, and I was "too weak" to move him away from the door, I'd be taking the pistol and shooting him.
Maybe that makes me a terrible person, but the guy has sinister intentions, and guess what? He wakes up and tries again!!! TWICE!! (it's amazing how many times Charlisse almost gets raped and doesn't) She stayed up most of the night, with a gun in her lap, to do who knows what, fell asleep, and then he woke her up and had the gun back. But that nights rest was enough to rejuvenate her and Charlisse had no weakness issues for the rest of the book.
This book isn't called the Redemption for no reason. Everyone and their dog gets redeemed in this story. I'm not against redemption, but some of these people were just unbelievable. I think I've already crossed the spoiler line, so I'll just say one of them was Edward. The guy is a terrible person who slaughters people just to get to someone. He frames Merrick, tells him he hopes his daughter is beautiful because . . . well just guess. He then snatches his daughter and stows her in his ship with the intent of forcing himself on her, but after two false starts, he decides to bury her in the hold and leave her to rot. Which gives Kent an opening to drag her up to his room.
There is no sign ever that Edward is a good man, or is changing. But suddenly, at the end, Merrick is like "hey, I know we're like mortal enemies, but let's put the past behind us." And he goes sure!!! For my daughter who I all of a sudden love and respect . . . I won't spoil the rest, but yep, that happened.
The reeaalllly fun part about all of this is reading the blurbs for the next two books and well, yeah, it made me laugh.
There's other issues with this book, but I think my big 3 should be enough to cover it. To recap:
1. Charlisse is a prop with no agency or purpose besides being the "thing" all of the men are fighting over. She's completely incapable of taking care of herself or thinking logically. She survives through sheer dumb luck and other people looking out for her. It's characters like Charlisse that are the reason readers are demanding strong, female characters.
2. Constant attempted rape and lewd behavior towards Charlisse used as a plot device. Charlisse has no ill side effects from repeated attempts, and the only point of the behavior was to constantly put the FMC in danger and try and toy with reader's emotions. Bad form.
3. Merrick doesn't fight his old nature and win. Instead he repeatedly behaves inappropriately towards Charlisse, and despite saying he regrets it(to himself) after most instances, he never changes, but instead we're told that they now love each other so it's okay if he acts like that. That's not winning over a bad habit, but rather the author writing in an excuse so the character doesn't have to change.
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