Pirates play by their own rules. Maybe that's part of what makes Marsha Canham's pirates both engaging and authentic. This fan-favorite author dropped out of sight years ago when the winds of publishing changed. Stick to one historical period? Never! Tone down the adventure? Not a chance.
Readers mourned Canham's retirement, but the winds of the e-book and indie publishing revolutions have brought these tumultuous tales back on the horizon.
Ms. Canham first dipped her toe into the waters of piratical romance with Bound by the Heart, pairing American privateer Morgan Wade and British governor's daughter, Summer Cambridge, during the War of 1812. Summer tries to hide her identity, and for good reason. Not only are they on opposite sides of the war, but she happens to be betrothed to Morgan's arch-enemy, who isn't letting her go that easily. Though the original form of this book did include forced seduction, the e-book reissue does not, a change the author has said better reflects Morgan's character.
With an epic title like The Wind and the Sea, the standalone story of chick-in-pants Courtney Farrow and Adrian Ballantine, the American naval lieutenant who loves her, is a past winner of the “Best Swashbuckler” award from Romantic Times. It's easy to see why. Lovers of Errol Flynn movies won't want to miss this one; Courtney and Adrian cut an action-packed swath along the Barbary Coast, fighting for common ground and a chance at a future they can share.
The Pirate Wolf trilogy begins with Across a Moonlit Sea, sweeping readers back to the Elizabethan era and the start of her Dante pirate dynasty. While hero Simon Dante makes a dashing pirate in his own right, it's Isabeau (Beau) Spence who's the star here, a woman who takes to the seas without male disguise, fighting alongside her father and brothers. Beau earns her own reputation as The Black Swan, a talented mapmaker as well as a scourge of the seas. Simon gets her so much that his wedding gift to her at the story's end stands out as a grand romantic gesture.
The Iron Rose proves that the adage “like mother, like daughter” holds true, as Simon and Beau's youngest, Juliet, captains her own ship and carries on the family business. When she encounters the elegant emissary, Varian St. Clare, Juliet first assumes he's a useless fop, but soon discovers that velvet covers steel, and the battle is on. Juliet doesn't have to prove she's any man's equal, because she knows it, and Varian comes to love her for it. Together, their enemies don't stand a chance. Simon and Beau serve a strong secondary role in this story, proving that time only strengthens an already legendary love.
The Following Sea, Ms. Canham's maiden voyage into new work after her hiatus, continues the saga. Juliet's brother, Gabriel, who took a beating in The Iron Rose, can't stay out of trouble for long. Headed for home with a ship and crew both the worse for wear, Gabriel discovers a plague ship gone adrift, with a sole survivor, the tenacious Eva. Fleeing a fiendish fiancé and desperate to find her missing father, Eva is a heroine who will do whatever it takes to survive, while maintaining the strong sense of self that is a hallmark of Canham heroines. Eva and Gabriel's first meeting is tense and visceral, a matter of life and death for them both, forcing Gabriel to weigh his duty to his crew against basic human decency. Their search for Eva's father opens not only secrets of the past but secrets of the heart on their way to happily ever after.
Hopefully it won't be too long before Juliet and Gabriel's brother, Jonas, can tell his story. Whatever that might be, it's guaranteed to be a wild ride. Who's on board?
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.