Prince Gavin is being sent to a distant land to negotiate the marriage of his sister to their heir. The problem is that with his father’s declining mental state, he is insisting that Gavin travel without any security and disguised as a diplomat. Gavin knows this is a mistake, but he doesn’t have much choice. And when Gavin ends up kidnapped by the infamous pirate Captain Marcas Drake, his fears become a reality.
Marcas was happy enough to have managed to capture a royal diplomat, certain he will be able to ransom the man for much needed funds. His crew is unsettled and their fortunes have been on the decline lately, so this is definitely a boon. And when Marcas learns that Gavin is actually the crown prince and royal heir, things are even more exciting.
While they are awaiting the opportunity to carry out the ransom demands, things take a turn for the worse. Marcas’ crew turns against him and Marcas and Gavin end up marooned on a deserted island. And if that is not bad enough, the crazy Crimson Queen is after Marcas and it seems she may finally have caught up with him after years on the run. Not to mention that even if they manage to survive their ordeals, the men have no idea how they might be together given that Gavin must eventually return home and Marcas will likely be arrested for kidnapping. Gavin and Marcas have fallen for one another during their wild adventure, and now they must hope to find a way that they can ultimately be together when it is over.
Prince & Pirate is an enjoyable historical fantasy that builds in a lot of nice adventures for our heroes. What I liked most was following along with the journey these guys take together as there are a lot of different twists and turns, as well as at least two total surprises that keep the story interesting. I liked both Gavin and Marcas and rooted for them together. They make a nice contrast with the royal prince and the rogue pirate, but at the same time, these guys quickly find common ground.
While I did enjoy the adventure, I think this is a story that should have been more exciting than it was. We have disguises, kidnapping, chases by insane pirate queens, marooning on a deserted island, and perils at sea. This should have been a high octane story, but things are much more staid than I think they could have been for a pirate adventure. I think this is partially the writing style, as there is just a lot of talking and describing, especially in the early parts of the book. We needed more showing and less telling. Things were interesting, but even when these guys are in peril, I never really felt the full excitement or intensity.
I think there is also a lack of depth to the characters that meant it was hard to connect with them. Marcas’ backstory is more developed, though we learn about it later in the book. But I never really feel like I had a great handle on either of these men, and at times they too felt kind of flat. Their romance is a little slow to build and we don’t get either fiery hatred at the enemies stage, or strong love in the romantic stage. It seemed like at some point they just kind of were together, but I didn’t feel like the romance really builds.
These issues aside, there was enough here that I enjoyed and that keep me interested throughout the book. I am a fan of pirate stories, and I think Cooper gives us a really creative one here that takes things in interesting directions. It is a nice fit for Opposites Attract Week as it takes two men from different classes of life, a prince and a pirate, and puts them together and shows their common ground. If you like pirate books or historical fantasy, I can recommend Prince & Pirate.