Set in 1817, beginning in the Gulf of Mexico, this is the story of Celia Vallerand, who sails from France with her new husband, Philippe, to the home of his wealthy Creole family in New Orleans. Even though they are wed, he has yet to bed her. And then pirates attack their ship.
The book begins with some exciting scenes as pirate Dominic Legare kills the men and takes Celia captive as a present for his brother, Andre. In New Orleans, Celia is paraded in front of the pirates in a tavern when one “Capt. Griffin”, a privateer turned pirate, spots her and decides to take her. Of course, he has to kill a few pirates to get her but he manages that quite nicely.
And then we learn Griffin is really Justin Vallerand, Philippe’s twin brother (Celia didn’t see him as like her husband because of Justin’s beard). As it turns out neither brother acted much the hero when it came to women. Unable to restrain himself, Justin takes Celia’s virtue before he returns her to his family, her in-laws. And then a tangled web is revealed as Celia and Justin clash while fighting the pirates together.
I have to say that this heroine came across a bit inconsistent and, at times, cold and indifferent. Kleypas writes well, of course, and there are some good surprises, but her fans might find this one a bit different than her usual Regencies. (Though set in the Regency period, it's does not take place in England and the heroine is French.) It’s a mild bodice ripper and it does have pirates with some good action scenes.
When Strangers Marry is the first book in the 2-book series.