Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adventures with Pirates or The Windflower by Laura London aka Sharon and Tom Curtis

Ahoy, Matey!!! Shiver me timbers, a scurvy pirate story!!!

SidneyKay again from Kay's Blog and as I've said a kazillion times, I've never been a big fan of pirate stories; however, w-a-y back in 1984 there was a wonderful gem of a pirate romance written called The Windflower. Written by the husband and wife team Tom and Sharon Curtis under the nom de plume of Laura London, it has long since been considered a classic in Romanceland circles. Now, whenever I reread a much loved book, I always cross my fingers. Some book hold up over time, but others have me scratching my head over how much my taste has changed over the years. So, crossing my fingers I opened The Windflower. Drum roll please...

Right away, I was struck with a difference in language. It's amazing how much romance language has changed in 27 years, and yes, that is a short period of time if you consider the whole history of romance books. The very first sentence, "Merry Patricia Wilding was sitting on a cobblestone wall, sketching three rutabagas and daydreaming about the unicorn," had me grinning and rubbing my hands together in anticipation. It was the rutabagas that grabbed me right away. This book is filled with wonderful prose, delightful plot-lines and fantastic characters.

Let's talk about the prose. I think over the years, I have become lazy while reading my books. I am used to historical books that make clear statements in almost modern language, and every once in a while a lovely poetic line is thrown in for our edification. The Windflower, on the other hand, is filled with wonderful lyrical words and I loved every minute of reading them. Now, this was not the flowery words that one might run into if one were reading, say, a Katherine Woodiwiss. And granted there were some phrases that if they were said to me by a real man might elicit a giggle. However, in the context of the book they brought on Ahhh moments. For instance our hero, Devon, whispers to Merry, "Love, together we can find where clouds are born." See, husband=giggle, Devon=Ahhhh. Wonderful language!

Now the plot-line/s. We have the standard aristocrat-turned-pirate-but-he's-really-a-good-guy-because-he-is-spying-for-his-country meets the kidnapped-innocent-mistaken-for-a-whore-virgin heroine. Nothing new here and let me tell you, it wasn't new in 1984. However, in the hands of Sharon and Tom, the plot-line turns into a magical adventure. Even with scurvy soft-hearted pirates who all fall in love with Merry.

Characters! What a bunch of well-written personalities on board this ship. These are not flat cardboard people inhabiting the pages of this book. And, for those of you who have read this book, I know you can all empathize with me when I sniffle over the wonderful sequels that should have been, but never were. From the enigmatic Rand Morgan to the handsome Raven and finally the mysterious, cold-blooded Cat. Never was there a character in a romance novel that screamed sequel more than Cat! Love Cat! And then there's Merry. What a young, young, heroine. She's almost irritating in the beginning, so innocent, so naive and constantly crying. But, then she's 18 and she's just been kidnapped and deposited on a boatload of pirates, so who wouldn't cry. Throughout the book we watch her grow and we fall in love with her at the same time the pirate crew does. Her relationship with Cat is touching and at times humorous. I chuckled when he was whining about the manner in which she told him she was having her period. She left a note on the table for him and while he was reading it, she hid under a nearby blanket.

Even though I enjoyed reading The Windflower again, this is not to say I didn't have a problem with some things. In one word, Devon. Don't get me wrong, Devon made a great hero. But there were times when he was too silent, too obscure, too mysterious and too brutal in his treatment of Merry. However, he was just a minor hiccup.

This book has an advantage over books that are written now - it's over 500 pages in length, so the authors had time to develop their tale. There isn't the mad rush to tie up loose ends. I wish that books written now could be the same length, because it does make a difference. Of course, there is also the fact that Sharon and Tom Curtis were great writers. I said were because they seem to have retired around 1996. They are published under Laura London, Robin James and Sharon and Tom Curtis. I wish they were still writing and I dream of the day when Cat's sequel will hit the bookstores. However, I know how hard it would be for them to pick up the cadence of writing after an absence of 15 years, but a person can wish, can't they?

So, for those of you who have never read this book, you really should. The Windflower has stood up to the passage of time pretty well. This is the Curtis' crowning achievement and I found it to be a delightful, beautifully told story. And, I loved the words!

Time/Place: Regency Pirate Ship
Sensuality Rating: Almost Hot


Kati said...

This is my all time favorite romance. There is nothing about it I don't love. Thanks for the reminder, now I want to pull it out and read it again! :)

Aurian said...

Great review, I've never heard of this book before but I am also not that fond of pirate books.

SidneyKay said...

Aurian: I'm not fond of pirate books either, however...this is one of the better ones. If you ever get a change to read it, just remember it was written a while ago, it is longer than most romances written today and the words are different.

Kati: It is on my list of 100 favorite books. And, don't you think we need a Cat sequel?

Kaye said...

OK - I have reading romance novels for years and years and years...and have repeatedly heard about this book. Have always been turned off by the pirate trope, and now, I'm just gonna have to try it. If there is one thing that will sell me about a book it is the prose. There is nothing like a great book and writer whose words just sing off the page. Now I have to find a copy and see for myself. Thanks for the great review

JenM said...

I don't like pirate stories at all, yet this is one my favorite books. I adored Sharon and Tom Curtis' books and I'm so sad they stopped writing. I don't know what really happened but for a few years after they stopped, I used to haunt the bookstores looking for new books from them. Have you ever read Sunshine and Shadow? That was my favorite of theirs.

Kati said...

My big question is, when, oh when is someone going to get smart and make this book into an e-Book??


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