Score: 92/100 (9.2 out of 10)
The Pirates Conquest is an exotic, erotic, exciting adventure/romance novel featuring love, hate, passion, betrayal, scandal, and drama galore.
This book is filled with so many ups and downs—a lot of downs in terms of things not going well for the characters. Along with drama, you expect some tension and turmoil. However, this book depicts a dog-eat-dog world where people use, abuse, betray, and take advantage of each other.
This perhaps reflects one of the themes that emerges in this book: that “good guys” don't always wear shining armor or capes, sometimes they wear devil horns or carry pitchforks. Sometimes the good guys wield a rapier, have a peg leg, and sport an eye-patch.
Ok, that might be exaggerating a bit. The protagonists or “good guys” of this novel are pretty messed up people in their own right. Our lead male protagonist, Captain Timothy Lockwood, is pretty much responsible for at least one sexual assault. Let's not sugar coat things. He's a pirate. He has done just about every evil deed that a pirate is classically known for, so much so that he becomes known as “Tim the Bloodthirsty.” The least of his sins include purchasing at least one [sex] slave and having an affair. He's a man of poor choices, and that's something that repeatedly gets brought up.
Usually, “gray” characters like anti-heroes or anti-villains are the most interesting, and we tend to get behind them because we relate to their weaknesses and vulnerabilities more. However, Timothy's actions, attitude, and behavior is so despicable at times that's it was difficult for us to actually get behind him. The only reason(s) we're really cheering for him are: 1. The main character loves him, 2. He's not as bad as Geoffrey. Case in point: even when he's “redeemed” and comes to the realization that he loves the main character (cause, of course, how could this story go any other way?), he still does aggressive, forceful things like covering her mouth when she speaks objections and choosing what clothes she wears (such as when he chooses her emerald dress).
Later on we meet one his most loyal followers, Dante D'Mattea. Again, similar to Tim, Dante might seem like a decent fellow with a love interest of his own (Serena) and a seemingly noble heart, but he is every bit as ruthless as Tim the Bloodthirsty as well as the clear villain of the novel, Geoffrey Lyndon. These heroes are not really great people. And Dante is liable to fall into temptation as much as the next guy.
We'll talk a bit about Geoffrey later because he comes up time and time again like a bad habit.
This book mostly follows Jennifer “Jenny” Weatherly, our main female protagonist and the main love interest of Captain Timothy. Jennifer is a relatively sheltered, high-born girl whose father, James, has bestowed a large amount of his estate and riches to. This makes her a prime target for the power-hungry Geoffrey who sees marrying Jennifer as a shortcut to power and riches. Jennifer's naivety becomes obvious when she believes that pirates are just a part of the fiction literature she reads. Still, she shows budding strength in resisting the forced marriage to Geoffrey.
She reminds us a lot of Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
She even becomes emboldened enough to attempt an escape aboard Captain Tim's ship, the Moonlight, something which immediately puts her and the ship's crew in jeopardy, as if they weren't already hunted/wanted people!
The frustrating thing about Jennifer, in our opinion, is that she is a classic damsel in distress, and boorishly so. That's fine, to an extent. There are great damsels in distress like Lois Lane, Mary Jane, and Princess Peach, but the problem is that it seems clear that Jennifer was intended to be the main character—the driving, active force behind the events of the novel. She was supposed to be growing and developing, becoming more mature, more independent, and stronger as the book went along. She does, to an extent, but her arc is quite neutered compared to the potential that it had.
Instead, things seem to always happen to Jennifer rather than Jennifer doing things or working toward things. She spends so much of this book just trying not to die. She's always trying to survive. And, yes, survival is an important instinct and adds some tension, but it almost seems like she's waiting out the plot. How many times does the same character have to be kidnapped and rescued? How many times does the same character have to be tossed around, used and abused, sold, traded, and sexually assaulted for the audience to get the point?
Why does every character with testicles have an attraction to her? Like, we get when someone is hot and attractive, but does every single man in this book have the exact same tastes? It reminded us of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen when every single male character regardless of their background or orientation develops a crush on Mina, the vampire lady.
Like, some dudes in real life prefer women who won't eat them. Some like blonde women. Some like brunettes. Some like Black women. Some like Asians. Yet, it almost seems like everyone in this book is magnetically attracted to Jennifer's red hair and green eyes. Yeah, it's special and unique, probably features shared by about 1% of women, but there comes a point when all the leering and the hooting and the cat calling by every male under the sun becomes ridiculous and overdone. We get that the character is SUPER HOT. We don't need to be reminded every five pages about how that's her defining characteristic.
Anyway, there were times we were a bit annoyed by the two lead characters. One is a terrible person who makes terrible decisions. One is a weak person who seems to invite trouble. She's like Ashley from Resident Evil 4. She seems to just stand there and gets herself grabbed, stabbed, sick, and shot at. It's really frustrating when considering the hopes we had for her.
Originally (for the first quarter of the book), we had a very different point of view on Jennifer. We were about to compare her to someone like Jane Eyre or Emma. What's interesting is that this book reads a lot like one of those classics... like Jane Eyre or Emma. It had bits that reminded us of Pride & Prejudice--the tangle of scandals and love-triangles/love-cubes run amok. There was even an aspect of this book that reminded us of The Count of Monte Cristo, especially with the parts that dealt with seafaring.
Then again, one of the most modern comparisons to this book is 50 Shades of Gray. There seems to be a sort of Stockholm syndrome that seems to take hold of the main characters in this plot. There are times when Tim is abusive, aggressive, and adulterous in his relationship with Jennifer.
Well, we promised to get back to Geoffrey, so let's talk about him. Geoffrey, again, is the villain of this book—a book filled with terrible people like Ginger and Captain Mark Gregory. Geoffrey ranks among the most terrible. The thing is that Geoffrey is like an Austin Powers villain or Wil-E-Coyote: he seemingly can't stay dead no matter what you do to him! At first, it was suspenseful and interesting. Then, it just became funny and almost sad. You know like how you start to feel bad for Tom from Tom & Jerry every time he gets horribly mutilated and dies? Well, it wasn't quite at that level, but it was getting there. Geoffrey is not just a terrible person, he's a pitiful person.
(On the note of pitiful people... POOR SEBASTIAN. Oh, gosh. That poor giant man. He deserved better.)
Going back to what we were saying about the theme of the book, Geoffrey is on the opposite spectrum of where Timothy is. Timothy is a thug, and he knows it. Society knows it. On the other hand, Geoffrey is a relatively high-born “gentleman” who figuratively wears the shining armor and rides the white horse. Society expects him to be “good” and the “hero,” but he is actually a despicable person and a villain.
So, in a sense, that dynamic worked. That theme played out well.
There's also a series of love-triangles/love-cubes involving about at least a half-dozen characters. Furthermore, there's an inheritance subplot that involves Stefan (Jennifer's cousin) going from “poor Stefan” to Mad Stefan (we thought he was about to replace Geoffrey as the villain). Furthermore, there's another subplot that involves Timothy serving as a captive navigator on board a rival captain's ship. There's also a subplot that involves Jennifer sold and held captive (again) and pimped out in a brothel. Now, to be fair, the last two subplots play side-by-side and reflect the idea that Timothy and Jennifer are two people who are suffering and struggling separately, yet haven't given up hope of seeing each other. So, it's quite romantic in that regard.
It's sorta like how Prince Charming and Snow White in ABC's Once Upon a Time kept getting separated, yet always promised and strived to find each other.
Now, there is an unintentionally funny moment in which a character says (to paraphrase), “He's not dead, I felt it.” This reminded us of when Darth Vader refuses to believe that Padme, his wife, is dead in Revenge of the Sith. Ok, the difference between Darth Vader and Jennifer is that Vader had the Force and thus had some degree of extrasensory perception. Jennifer isn't a psychic. Or is she?.........
Ironically, the author IS a practicing psychic and card reader. So, in the author's mind, it might be plausible for someone like Jennifer to sense the fate of a loved one across the universe. And, let's face it, some of us can just sense these things. Call it “intuition.” Call it “clicking” with someone. Call it “wishful thinking.” Whatever it is probably exists to a certain degree.
This is a solid novel with a lot of action, adventure, and romance! It has some issues such as the character issues we mentioned. It is also missing commas when addressing people in dialogue. However, that's very minor and easy to overlook.
Check it out on Amazon!