puritan pirateRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

Lieutenant Peregrine is a naval officer, but he has been assigned to a pirate ship to keep track of their acquisitions for the government. Perry is a hard worker and a good fighter, but his uptight personality does not endear him to the rest of the crew. He is particularly at odds with Quinn, a sailor from their sister ship and a man who both attracts and infuriates Perry. When Perry finds himself in danger one night at port, however, it is Quinn who comes to his aid. And when they return to the ship, the men realize that their fighting not only masked a shared attraction, but also a mutual kink.

Quinn never expected the depth of passion Perry was hiding behind his stoic persona, but getting a chance to see the real man inside has made Quinn’s attraction to him grow even more. The way Perry submits to Quinn is an incredible turn on, but even more, Quinn finds himself with growing feelings for Perry. Quinn has always been public about his interest in men, but Perry had kept his attractions secret. But now that they are exploring things together, Quinn realizes he would like more with Perry than he expected, perhaps even ultimately becoming true partners.

When disaster strikes and Quinn finds himself in grave danger, he is sure that it is the end for him and Perry. But his seemingly mild lover has much more strength than many give him credit for. And Perry is not going to rest while Quinn is in danger. Now the men must fight for their lives, and hope that if they make it to safety, they can find a way to be together for good.

I love a good pirate story and so I was excited when I saw this new offering from Jules Radcliffe. The BDSM elements intrigued me as well, and overall I found this one very enjoyable.

Where I think Radcliffe really excels here is in her historical details and sense of place. The story takes place in 1664 in the Caribbean, and the author really evokes life in that time. There are great details on the various ports the men visit, life aboard a pirate ship, and the politics of the time. The political landscape was particularly interesting to me, especially the way that England, Spain, and other European powers maneuvered to gain the upper hand within the islands and the way they interacted with the buccaneers. I also found the elements about the role of matelots and the acceptance of men as lovers among the pirates to be really fascinating. Unsurprisingly, with long periods at sea, many men turned to one another for sex and comfort. But Radcliffe describes a more formal process among some men, called matelots, who were deeply committed to one another, and even inherited from one another upon death. I found these historical and political elements really interesting and Radcliffe manages to convey a lot of detail without feeling like info dump or overwhelming the story.

On the relationship end, things started a little rocky for me. We open the book with the men already having a history of animosity between them. The first time we see them together, however, is when Quinn rescues Perry and they end up in bed together. The men immediately have these strong feelings for one another, particularly Quinn who feels a sense of claiming toward Perry, as well as engaging in some pretty intense pain/pleasure kink. I felt kind of thrown in here as we don’t get much background and suddenly there are all the feelings. Not to mention, jumping right in with some hard core kink without much discussion between the men. It felt a bit “all knowing Dom” in that after having no idea Perry was submissive, Quinn just immediately is able to sense his need and provide the perfect response. I think if we had more time with the guys before they ended up in bed, or if things didn’t become so emotionally deep immediately, it would have worked better. We see the men make major declarations for one another, take significant risks, and share their feelings for one another quite expansively (and at times edging a bit close to the purple side), but before I felt enough of  a sense of them to be fully believable. The guys were just way emotionally invested before I had a chance to catch up as a reader. So there was a lot of the book where I felt a disconnect between the emotions they were professing and what I could feel on page. As the story continued, I was able to catch up and really feel the connection between them by the end, but there was a significant portion where that was missing for me.

Still, I think that the storyline here, as well as the great historical details, more than make up for most of my issues with the speed of the relationship. There is a nice turn where things get suspenseful and intense, so the book moves along briskly and I found it very engaging. If you are a fan of pirate stories, or if you just are in the mood for an interesting historical, I would definitely give this one a try.

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