Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Every Girl "Hearts" a Pirate

These days, the word “pirate” conjures up images of exotic swashbuckling sailors who could swing a cutlass with one hand and hold a bottle of rum in the other. Just when did pirates first morph from bloodthirsty criminals into romantic heroes?

Errol Flynn brought the idea to the silver screen in 1935 with Captain Blood, exchanging Long John Silver’s wicked image for a Robin Hood of the sea. Fast forward a hundred years past J. M. Barrie’s not so delectable Captain Hook, and we find Johnny Depp charming audience’s world wide with his crazy-as-a-fox rendition of the forgivable and fetching Captain Jack Sparrow. It was not the stereotypical orientation romance novels have been churning out since Harlequin became a household name, yet the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy resurrected our fascination with those long ago rebels of the Age of Sail.

Pirates were one of the lowest classes of human kind. Cruel and self-serving, they lived only for themselves and most were recorded as blood-thirsty and without conscience. So what is it about pirates that makes a girl go weak in the knees? Is it our nurturing desire to find good in everyone? Or, the bad boy archetype every woman wants to tame?

I’m going to go with B. Pirates were at the core, thieves and murders. They smelled. They carried diseases (like syphilis.). They dressed in whatever they could find, which on some occasions could be quite comical if they took the right ship. They were rarely any more loyal to each other then they were to themselves.

Perhaps it is the female persuasion in us that begs the questions: Were they all murderers? Didn’t everyone smell? Couldn’t some be found with just a smidge of loyalty below the surface?

Rather than ridicule these romantic fancies, let us examine the benefits of loving a swashbuckling man, say, from Caribbean waters:

1. Pirates mean long stretches of beaches. Besides the occasional sea cruise, you may even have your own private island.

2. No coconut earrings or seashell necklaces; it’s diamonds, emeralds, and rubies if your man knows how to do his job.

3. Think of all those merchant ships transporting East Indies silk to the fashion-starved Western colonies. He may clean up nice in slops and a linen shift but you need silks, brocades, and fine lace. You’re a pirate LADY after all, not some tavern wench.

4. Who needs a yacht? You travel by wooden ship, a frigate if you’re lucky, but even a sloop is admirable if it’s staffed with enough female-worshiping swabs at your beck and call.

5. Protection. Nobody messes with another man’s woman; especially a pirate’s. You may be scorned by women of high society but at least you don’t have to worry about safety. Another benefit: if you want to switch teams, all it takes is that Damsel in Distress act for a foolish, ambitious Royal Navy lieutenant and your record is cleared (unless your swashbuckling lover sends him to Davy Jones locker).

In my novel, THE PRIVATEER, I took advantage of Governor Woodes Rogers pardon, issued in 1718. This Bahamas governor offered a pardon to all those engaged in piracy if they would cease and desist. My hero, Julius Bertrand, forced into piracy at a young age, accepted the pardon and used his swashbuckling experience to make a deal with the Crown. Bertrand secretly privateers and reports to his trusted friend, Captain Adair, of HMS Indemnity.

What makes Bertrand a captivating personality, in my opinion, is not just his beautiful lost soul aura, but that he is ambitious. This ambition becomes a flaw, and it is this flaw that nearly costs him his life and his heart. A man overcoming his flaws is sexy. Especially when he learns and grows as a person, and does all of it for a woman (which Bertrand does). Okay, I admit, he is mysterious, dark, handsome, and I imagine, smelled delicious, but reader, permit me artistic license.

It is a never-ending occupation, piracy. Even in today’s modern world, we hear reports of these sea-roving criminals engaging in unthinkable acts. There is no romance in the reality and I believe that’s what makes historic fiction so inviting. We can step back to a time when men were definitely men, and only the strong and crafty survived. Through a good pirating yarn we can find the Caribbean’s lost boys, almost always sincere, pliable, and underneath all the brine, waiting for us with hearts of gold.

The Privateer

Publisher’s Website: Available at Awe-Struck Publishing

Heat Level: Sweet, with some scenes of violence

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Lindsay Townsend said...

A super post Danielle, that perfectly shows the appeal of pirates! Congratulations on 'The Privateer' - it sounds a fascinating mix of history, romance and pirates on the high seas!

Savanna Kougar said...

Danielle, yes, congratulations! Nothing like the right pirate sailing the high seas and doing all those swashbuckling things.

Personally, I think part of the pirate appeal is the adventure. And most of us are longing for a manly man who adores us.

Danielle Thorne said...

Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoy pirates as much as I do.