Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Review: Karen Robards’ ISLAND FLAME – Exciting Well Written Pirate Adventure with an Alpha Male Hero and a Strong Heroine

Ok, so it is a bodice ripper from the early 80’s (reissued with new cover), but I liked it. I liked it very much. Every now and then an arrogant alpha male (in this case a sea captain) can be cathartic, reminding us that all historical romance heroes are not nice guys. This one certainly wasn’t. The heroine starts out as a 17-year-old innocent brat, but she quickly grows up and actually develops some very mature outlooks. Like Scarlett in the movie Gone With The Wind, she takes longer than most to see the light (by the way I do recommend SCARLETT, the sequel to the movie…it’s very well done), but eventually she gets there (I think).

Set in 1842, this is the story of Lady Catherine Aldley, whose father sent her on a military ship to London from Lisbon where he was Ambassador, never knowing it is a silver transport ship and bate for an American pirate named Jonathan Hale who thinks nothing of raping (an ruining) an innocent well born lady half his age to have his pleasure. Cathy may be young and innocent but she is not tame. When Captain Hale captures her and sets out to tame her in a most brutal and humiliating way, he has no idea he will become her victim as well.

Say what you will about the old romances that don’t reflect 21st century sensibilities, but I can tell you this: this story kept me reading late into the night and that, folks, is a well-told tale. The pacing is fast, the action never ceasing and the chemistry between the two is compelling. Great sexual tension.

Modern historical romance authors can learn much from Robards. She makes some masterful twists and turns, I must say--all believable, which counts for much in my book. What did bother me was the reaction of the heroine. There was definitely some Stockholm syndrome going on as she came to see herself at fault (“she had brought her injuries on herself”), and the captain as heroic. Yes, he saved her from a band of nasty thieves and murderers, but she never would have been exposed to them in the first place if he hadn’t taken her captive. Any strong heroine would have tried to escape, right? ‘Nuf said.

I also thought Robards did a great job with the sailor/ship jargon, making real life on board ship. You might take that for granted but it required much work on her part. Her descriptions put you in the setting.

I’ll tell you what: I liked it well enough to order the sequel, SEA FIRE.


  1. Another great review. I've always liked romance set at sea although I never see myself writing one. I'll add this to my TBR list. I'll be looking to see if you like the sequel.

  2. I will have to try this book. I love a bad boy (wink) and by the way, you are right about Scarlett. I did not read the book but I saw the movie and I started out watching it with a chip on my shoulder. I didn't think they could ever do a sequel to GWTW but it was pretty darn good!

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