Review: Mutiny of the Heart by Jennifer Bray-Weber

mutiny of the heartReview by Janell

I don’t usually read pirate books because they seem filled with alpha males and silly pirate talk and poor hygiene. I chose this book because it had a woman pirate captain, and I was curious if that situation would be believable. I’m here to tell you that I totally bought it, from corsets to cannon balls, and I might be willing to give pirate books another chance.

Captain Joelle Quint is smart, tough, and capable. Her crew respects and obeys her, and she has a subordinate-with-benefits thing going on with her first mate. Her ship sails around the Caribbean doing jobs for folks who don’t want to get their hands dirty.

At the beginning of the book, she takes a commission to track down a mutinied ship and search for a hidden letter on-board about Spanish ship movement. Or something. Honestly, I wasn’t exactly clear on the politics of the time so I didn’t try too hard to keep track of which country was spying on which, and why. Joelle has a job to do, that’s the point. But as she walks past a slave auction, she sees a haggard yet sexy man up for auction who claims to be a map reader. She happens to have a backstory that requires the assistance of a map reader, so she swallows her moral high ground and buys a slave.

Sloan Ricker figures his new owner is a “bit of fluff,” and he plans to either charm her to win his freedom, or incite mutiny in the crew. He very quickly learns that the crew is a brotherhood in support of its captain, and that the captain herself is too smart to be tricked.

Of course there was insta-lust between them, which made me a bit uncomfortable because Joelle shouldn’t be ogling her crew members, slaves or not, and Sloan shouldn’t be thinking of any woman as someone he needs to dominate sexually. Luckily the book avoided any common pitfalls in that area, and I was pleasantly surprised with the way their relationship developed.

I can’t say enough good things about Joelle. She demonstrates authority over her crew, she’s brave but not reckless, patient in battle, and smart about cutting her losses, living to fight another day. She thinks this:

“Men…Why must they seek retribution for every wrongdoing against them?”

And this: “Rape. How original. Men. ’Twas always about popping their cork.”

And she tells Sloan, “I think it wise to reason with your head and not your cock.”

Joelle is not afraid to tell it like it is. Even when she and Sloan get a little close, she realizes that he could undermine her authority on the ship, so she lays down the law pretty quickly, causing him to get sulky. But she’s got her priorities.

Sloan isn’t so bad, either. He’s willing to change his original plans when he sees they won’t work. He’s good with the crew, and the sails. He has an excellent sword fight scene. Plus, he realizes that Joelle doesn’t need him to step forward and protect her, and also that she’s a really good captain and it’s okay if he takes orders from a woman.

Given all that, Sloan does dominate a little bit in the bedroom, but Joelle lets him know that he’s only doing it because she allows it. They have pirate sex, which includes ramming, lancing, and a “swift onslaught.” Yes, I enjoyed the naughty nautical descriptions.

I enjoyed just about everything about this book. There was a conflict near the end where I didn’t quite understand who was double-crossing whom, and I wasn’t sure if I really cared about the Spanish armada. But the shipboard scenes were detailed, the motley crew was amusing and tightly-knit, the battles were exciting without being too long, and I believed in Joelle as a tough pirate captain. Cool stuff.

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

Mutiny of the Heart
by Jennifer Bray-Weber
Release Date: June 23, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press

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