Nathaniel Bainbridge is traveling to Primrose Isle, one of Britain’s new colonies, along with his sister. His father is already there as governor of the colony, and Nathaniel is to join him there to be married. Life on the merchant ship carrying them is boring and Nathaniel misses home where he could run and swim and climb trees rather than being cooped up on the ship. He isn’t particularly excited to marry considering he has never met his betrothed, nor does he have any interest in women.
When pirates attack the ship, Nathaniel gets some excitement, but not the way he imagined. They are raided by the legendary Sea Hawk, a fearsome pirate who has long been seeking revenge on Nathaniel’s horrible father. Hawk decides to hold Nathaniel ransom in order to recover some of the fortune Nathaniel’s father stole from him and his crew.
At first Nathaniel is nothing more than a means to an end for Hawk. He assumes the young lord is a spoiled jerk just like his father and wants nothing to do with the man. But with Nathaniel locked in Hawk’s cabin all day, Hawk soon begins to get to know him. Rather than spoiled, Nathaniel is spirited and friendly, open, and willing to work hard and look out for others. As the two spend their days and nights together, a friendship and an attraction grows. Nathaniel is determined to learn what it is like to be with a man before entering a passionless marriage, and Hawk is willing to teach him all about the pleasures they can find together. And Nathaniel discovers that Hawk isn’t nearly as fearsome as he lets on, but instead has a tender side that few ever see.
Before the men realize it, they have fallen for one another. But Hawk has promised his men that they will recover their stolen fortunes by way of ransom for Nathaniel — or death if the ransom isn’t paid. Plus, even though Hawk longs to leave the sea and live a life of peace somewhere, he knows that there can be future for him with Nathaniel. But Nathaniel has found freedom as a prisoner to be his true self, freedom he has never had before and knows he will not have again. He is determined to keep his pirate captain now that the two have found each other. But danger lurks and treachery abounds and the men will have to fight for their lives and a chance to be together.
Ok, so pirates, virgins, age difference, and enemies to lovers. This book could literally have been written just for me. I couldn’t have gotten it into my hands any faster if I tried. And I am thrilled to say this story delivered on everything I wanted in this type of book, with nothing I didn’t. First, it’s everything I wanted in all its pirate tropey goodness. I mean, just look at that cover! Danger on the high seas. Dastardly pirate captain that secretly has a soft side. Young virgins eager to learn the ways of the flesh, taught by the sexy, experienced older man. Treachery, double crossing, life threatening attacks. This story has it all and I just gobbled it up. And when I say nothing I didn’t want, I also appreciated that the story walks that line of the pirate trope just perfectly. We get hot, sexy ravishing, but also everything is totally consensual and I never felt that Hawk’s role as captor influences Nathaniel unduly. Instead, it is Nathaniel who takes the lead, determined to experience what he can before he is returned home to his father and future wife.
Andrews does a nice job with both of these characters, giving them a lot of depth beyond their role as captor and captive. Hawk is not nearly the fearsome man he is made out to be and we can see what a raw deal he has had in so many ways. It allows him to be approachable to both Nathaniel and the reader in a way we really need for this story to work. He is not quite “pirate with a heart of gold,” but he is a good enough man that we can root for him to find his happiness. For Nathaniel’s part, I found him endearing and fascinating. Not just his bravery, but the way he grows during the story. He starts off full of self doubt, feeling guilt for his desires for men and pathetic for his trouble reading. He has always been a clear disappointment to his father, and now that he is acting on his attraction to men, he feels even worse. Nathaniel really comes into his own in this book and I loved the growth he experiences.
The story sinks us right into the heart of piracy, with battles and danger and life on the high seas. We get a nice sense of what life was like during that time period, not just for the pirates, but also the privateers and those settling the colonies. It gives the book some nice grounding, so while it mostly focuses on the relationship between the men, it is also settled within the larger events going on around them. The story gives us lots of thrills and excitement, particularly toward the end, and I enjoyed seeing how things all come together for the men. The story ends nicely swoony for them and it is all romantic and lovely.
Like I said, this book could have been written for me. It is all my personal catnip, and I love the way Andrews plays on the pirate trope and gives us a sexy, romantic, and exciting story within that framework. It is a bit dramatic and over the top, as is fitting this type of book, and that absolutely worked for me here. If you are a fan of pirate stories, adventure on the high seas, and enemies who find their way to love, I can highly recommend Kidnapped by the Pirate.