Title: Captive of the Corsairs Heart of the Corsairs, Book 1
Author: Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency
Story Setting: 1814-1815
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc., 1 edition
Published Date: July 21, 2017
Bluestocking Sophia Green’s future is uncertain. Orphaned as a child and raised by the wealthy Cappleman family, she has become the companion to her attractive younger cousin, Laura, while harboring to her breast an unrequited love for Laura’s diffident brother.
Sea captain Kit Hardacre’s past is a mystery – even to him. Kidnapped by Barbary Coast pirates at the age of 10, he does not remember his parents or even his real name. All he recalls are things he would rather forget.
When Laura’s reputation is threatened by a scandal, Sophia suggests weathering the storm in Sicily with their elderly uncle, a prominent archaeologist.
Their passage to Palermo is aboard Hardacre’s ship, but the Calliope, like its captain, is not all it seems. Both have only one mission – to rid the world of the evil pirate slaver Kaddouri or die in the attempt.
Initially disdainful of the captain’s devil-may-care attitude, Sophia can’t deny a growing attraction. And Kit begins to see in her a woman who could help him forget the horrors of his past.
Sophia allows herself to be drawn into the shallows of Kit’s world, but when the naive misjudgment of her cousins sees Laura abducted, Sophia is dragged into dangerous depths that could cost her life or her sanity in a living hell.
My Thoughts: Look closely at the book cover. That is, look behind the couple. The backdrop takes the reader into the wiles of the Mediterranean, discovering the Barbary Coast with its exotic mosques, and its perils of the time for the unsuspecting. A beautiful, enticing cover for an equally riveting read!
I’ve read one other book by this author, Dark Heart, about two months ago. The cover also drew me in. The story dealt with the injustices in the hands of the greedy. It has a much darker tone than this one, but no less emotionally compelling.
The storyteller drops us into a scene which happens 18 months after meeting Sophia. So we know somewhat bad things happen, but we don’t know when or how or why. So this scene acts as a teaser, always pushing me along to find how it all fits together.
Sophia Green is a bit shy, has put herself on the shelf and has accepted her spinsterhood. She fell in love with her cousin, Samuel, years ago, or so she thinks. In Sophia’s mind the man is obtuse. He can’t see what a lovely wife she would make.
Taken as a young girl from a convent by her cousin, she is companion to Laura, Samuel’s sister. Sophia is the one who looks out for herself and Laura. Laura loves to live life, reads novels which spurs her eagerness to find her one true love. Ah, romance! Laura’s nature and willingness to trust what she perceives finds her in some rather type spots. Luckily, Sophia is there to pick up the pieces. After one encounter, Sophia urges Samuel to let her accompany Sophia, who is going abroad, with their uncle. Hopefully, enough time to let the rumor mill cool.
The fact Laura was beautiful and an heiress turned Sophia’s role of companion into a full-time chaperone, swatting away men who buzzed about like pesky flies.
Sophia is excited to join her elderly Uncle Jonas Fenton, historian and antiquarian as well as archaeologist, travelling to Palermo*, and Laura will be accompanying her. Samuel, taking his continent tour, will be joining them at a later date.
Sophia is a bit of a bluestocking. She wears spectacles, but with or without she is a stunning woman. She is not aware of it. She pays no mind to fashion, wears drab colors, none that suit her coloring. Her world lies in books, and unearthing, cataloguing and illustrating her uncle’s and her finds. She has a keen intelligence and most determined in manner, that is, when she isn’t a fish out of water.
Kit, once he sees the lovely Sophia, listening to her rapturing on about ancient Greece, his mind wanders to the lovely lady before him.
While she spoke to him of ancient Greece, he imagined dressing her in the style of a Spanish maja.
One painting, La maja vestida by Francisco de Goya, came to mind—Sophia had the same coloring. That thought was immediately followed by the recollection of the painting’s companion—La maja desnuda.
Kit mentally shook his head. What the hell was he doing? Sophia Green wasn’t his type.
Ah, they all say that, don’t they? It’s apparent, men really don’t know their type. It’s up to us readers and writers to show them the way!
Kit struggles with a past addiction with opiates. Kit’s past hasn’t been kind. There is a reason he focuses all his attention on killing Kaddouri, a pirate and slaver. Kit isn’t waiting for a government to put him down. You see, Kit was once a slave, enslaved by Kaddouri, and made to do things no child should be obliged to do. His saving grace happens when a man takes him under his wing for six years, educating him, while Kit continues his ‘other’ duties.
Luckily, Kit escapes and turns his rage to aid those which find themselves enslaved. He has saved many. His well-trained men, ship and keen intelligence leaving nothing to chance are his strengths. This story shows us these attributes time after time. But, Kaddouri wants him dead, too. Kit has sabotaged many of Kaddouri’s campaigns. Who will be the keener, the stronger, the more determined?
Elias Nash, Kit’s first officer, knows Kit well, knows the demons which plague him, worries over him, protects him with his life. You’ll come to love this character. As things stand, it’s apparent he will have a story of his own, most likely, book two of the series.
I love the history woven into the story. So many places highlighted on my Kindle, I went back to look at them more closely on Google. I love the use of Turkish and Arabic words and intrigue of the moving parts of this exciting and dangerous story. At one point, Kit said a very back word in Arabic, and I wasn’t expecting it. I laughed hard. You see, I’ve lived in the Middle East for 18 years and the bad, nasty words are some of the first you learn! The author leaves the reader needing to know what is said. Later, Kit explains it to the ever-curious Sophia. A wondrous, entertaining scene!
Between the sea battles, the harems, the slavers, and the storm, this story just pumps my blood. I, must say, even as a Regency, Carter brings ancient civilization into her stories. I love it!
*Palermo is located on the island of Sicily at the southern tip of Italy. Before reading the book, take a look at its proximity to Tunis. Syracuse is on the other side of the island, also an ancient city. Civilization spans back 2,700 years, well before the Romans built their Temple to Apollo on Syacuse.