Reviewed by Mandi
I’ve enjoyed Darlene Marshall’s books in the past and she does a nice job with The Pirate’s Secret Baby. The baby is actually eight year old Mattie, whose mother has recently died. Her governess, Lydia tracks down Mattie’s father, Robert St. Armand, the captain of the Prodigal Son and known pirate. Robert has been with many (and I mean many) women, so it’s a shock and maybe not so much of a shock that he has fathered a child. He takes to Mattie quite quickly, but also knows he needs help being a parent. He demands Lydia accompany himself and Mattie from the Caribbean back to England. Lydia refuses to set foot in England again (for good reason..which you will discover as you read) so Robert does what any good pirate would do. He lets her leave on a different ship and kidnaps her anyway.
This book has a lot of cute moments When the book opens, Robert is waking up after a night of debauchery but is having a hard time remembering exactly who he debauched. Lydia finds him at this brothel to break the news to him that he has a daughter. Lydia doesn’t take too kind to Robert’s demeanor:
He looked up, eyeing his visitor more closely. He wouldn’t call her face pretty, but it was certainly colorful, that bright crimson in her cheeks, the white lines around her mouth, the narrowed gaze with a flash of green. The rest of her was neither colorful nor pretty. The woman wore a gray dress of uncertain styling, baggy where it should be fitted, resembling a sack. A white cap without a touch of lace to soften it covered her hair.Clearly she was not in the usual style of Cornelia’s girls. Must be one of the specialty doxies, and he could guess what that specialty was.
“I did not request a mistress of discipline last night, did I?”
His brow furrowed as he thought, a painful process given the state of his head.
She advanced two steps closer, fists clenched by her sides.
“Get up, you…you reprobate!”
“No, seriously, sweetheart, you will have to find another customer.” He looked at her critically.“Some men like the stern English governess act, but I think you would do better in a leather corset.”
“I am an English governess, you disgusting piece of offal, your daughter’s governess!”
The combination of liquor and hashish and sex had left his brain like tapioca, but even so, a small part of what she said penetrated his consciousness.
“You are not here for my morning fuck?”
She grabbed the nearest object containing liquid and dumped it over his head. Fortunately for him, it was the dregs of the wine and not the chamber pot. Robert was too stunned to do anything but sit there, dripping, as the unknown woman turned on her heel and stomped out of the room.
Lydia is a very prim and proper governess. She cares greatly for Mattie but also has her own life to live. She fears traveling back to England is tries her best to not revisit, but Robert has other plans. Mattie takes to being a pirate quite well. She is her father’s daughter for sure, much to the dismay of Lydia, who would rather teach her needlepoint or painting:
“I will be back soon, Mattie. Mind Mr. Fuller while I’m gone.”
“Do not worry, Papa! I have my knife and if any of them try to come aboard, I’ll gut them!”
“Mattie, what did I teach you about socializing with strangers?”
“Be courteous to all you meet, but have a plan to kill them,” the child said skipping along and holding his hand.
Stuck on a boat together allows Lydia and Robert to get to know each other. Robert is really a good guy, but loves to push Lydia’s buttons. He hides her caps and says things to her that he knows will get her going:
She put her hand on his chest and pushed, but it was a half-hearted effort.
“Stop doing this.You are so annoying!”
“True, but I have other qualities.”
“Name one, other than loving Mattie.”
“I am exceedingly handsome.”
“That’s not a quality, that’s an accident of birth, a happenstance!”
“I am an extraordinarily gifted lover.”
“So you say. I have no evidence of it.”
He watched her eyes widen as she realized what she’d said, the door she’d opened. A better man might have ignored the provocation, but they already knew he wasn’t such an individual.
He put his mouth next to her ear.“I have sailed to the Orient. I know sixty different points on your body, my dear little governess, where I can bring you to screaming fulfillment using only my mouth and my tongue.”
He leaned back to gauge her reaction to that! It was almost all he could have desired.
Her eyes widened and her hand fluttered up to her throat. She slowly licked her lips, the tip of her own tongue darting out wetly. He hardened further at the sight and he schooled his face so his triumph would not show. He had her now.
“Really?” she asked throatily. “You can count to sixty?”
I love Lydia’s comeback!
I’d say for about half the book these two are traveling back to England and the second half of the book takes place in England’s countryside. We learn a lot more about Robert’s past and Lydia’s too. Overall I think this is a really cute book but I will say it is a little on the long side. There were times the story slowed down, both on the ship and in England, but the pace did pick back up eventually. It takes Lydia quite awhile to give herself over to Robert. I enjoyed the chase although I would have liked to see Lydia fall a little harder for Robert.
If you are interested in this type of book, I also recommend The Bride and the Buccaneer by this author.