Monday, October 8, 2012

Gaelen Foley -- The Pirate Prince

Gaelen Foley -- The Pirate Prince Rated: ❦ ❦❦ . ❧   {3.85}
Action: ♠♠. / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣. / Romance: ♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ★★★
Action: 2.5 / Emotion: 4.5 / Romance: 3 / Sensuous: 2 / Suspense: 3   //   Historical Flavor: 1.5 / Smiles: 1 / Tears: 4

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  Romantic Times: 1998 Best First Historical Romance Award Winner
Remembered enjoying The Knight Miscellany Series by Gaelen Foley when read it a few years ago, so decided to give her very first book a try.   The Pirate Prince, the first book in The Ascencion Trilogy was an enjoyable read, but it was not a book that kept my undivided attention.   This review may be a bit off-kilter because after voraciously reading the first half of the book, I went through an extremely dry spell when it came to reading.   The most abnormal thing happened -- I just did not feel like reading.   In fact, did not read for two full weeks before picking up this book to finish it.   Therefore, my take on this book should be digested with a grain of salt.

Obviously, if the hero, Prince Lazar di Fiore, and/or the heroine Allegra Monteverdi had wormed their way deep into the recesses of my heart, this book would have been read without interruption.   But neither of these characters succeeded in making an overwhelming impression.   In fact, the reason it was so easy to put this book aside was because Lazar and Allegra's redundant actions aboard his ship began to grow tiresome.   Lazar was all about wanting to bed Allegra while she was all about convincing him that he needed to take his rightful place as the King of Ascencion.

Foley did an excellent job of initially drawing one into the story by inspiring a desire to read further to find out all the details about why Lazar has been gone from Ascencion for fifteen years and why it took him so long to return to enact revenge against the current corrupt ruler of Ascencion -- Allegra's father, Governor Ottavio Monteverdi.   As Lazar enters the island through the secret tunnels known only to the kings of Ascencion, Allegra is attending a party honoring her father.

It is a bit difficult to warm up to Allegra's character because she is too idealistic and believes she can make a difference in the lives of the downtrodden peasants of Ascencion by providing them with bits and pieces of charity to compensate for her father's overly-harsh rule.   And if that didn't convince one that Allegra was wearing very rosy glasses and didn't have a clue when it came to real life, the fact was hammered home because Allegra had agreed to marry her father's protégé and successor, Viscount Domenic Clemente, because she felt she could help the Ascencioners by offering Domenic wifely advice on how to rule.

Foley began preparing readers for the future contentions between Lazar and Allegra by introducing the ghosts in their pasts.   Allegra had been living in Paris with Aunt Isabella for the past nine years following the suicide of her beautiful mother, Lady Cristiana Monteverdi.   Because Cristiana had been not-so-secretly in love with Lazar's father, King Alphonse di Fiore, it became plausible that her husband would become one of the conspirators who sought to kill King Alphonse and his family.   Allegra had dreamed of Prince Lazar and believed in the Ascencioners' legend that the thirteen-year-old prince escaped the night his family was slaughtered -- and would one day return to rule.

Lazar was a character of contrasts.   He was portrayed as a man of confidence, who inspired trust and loyalty from his men.   Lazar became the leader of Wolfe's Brethren when the pirates who served with Captain Raynor Wolfe, the pirate king, voted Lazar as his successor upon Wolfe's death during a mutiny in Antigua four years earlier.   There were six under-captains who sailed alongside Lazar's ship, The Whale; namely: {1} a giant tow-headed Dutchman, Captain Bickerson of The Tempest; {2} a jovial Irishman, Captain Sullivan of The Hawk; {3} an old seadog, a taciturn Scot, Captain Fitzhugh of The Hound; {4} a foppish young American, Captain Morris; {5} a fiery Portugese, Captain Russo of the brig Sultana; and {6} a disowned son of a French gentleman, Captain Landau of the brigantine Dragonfly.

Lazar is portrayed as a man who dealt out his brand of justice swiftly and without remorse.   That is, until he turned his back on his plan (that was two years in the making) to seek revenge against Ottavio Monteverdi and his family for betraying and killing King Alphonse and his family.   Foley painted a tortured, very vulnerable side to Lazar -- that of a thirteen-year-old boy who had to exist in shame and slavery to Sayf-del-Malik, the ruler of Al Khuum -- a man who fed off fear and the pleasures of causing pain.   The time Lazar spent in captivity caused this self-possessed, fun-loving prince to became a man who suffered from deep feelings of unworthiness.   Lazar became a cold-blooded pirate, but remained a man who could not rape a woman, nor a man who could kill women and children.

Lazar had one long-time friend, who sailed the seas with him.   The English gentleman, John Southwell, called Vicar because he used to be an Angelican priest, struggled to keep the humane side of Lazar alive underneath his piratical exterior.   Vicar was instrumental in helping Allegra turn Lazar away from painting his soul entirely black by convincing him to spare the lives of the Monteverdi family.   Although Vicar played a very important role to Lazar and the story, his personality was minimally developed and he quite often stayed in the background.

The action and adventure nature of the story (Lazar conquering governor's palazzo) turned to sensuality as Lazar took Allegra aboard his ship to seduce her.   Foley did a wonderful job of writing very sensual scenes between Lazar and Allegra as they engaged in foreplay and fought about Lazar returning to Ascencion to take his rightful place as king -- to save the people.   Since Allegra was determined not to become like her mother (fall in love with an unattainable king), she constantly struggled to reject Lazar's advances since he was betrothed to Princess Nicolette Habsburg years ago.   Foley did a great job writing sensually heated scenes, but their actual lovemaking was more emotional than spicy.

When Allegra finally convinced Lazar to return to Ascencion, he first had to face his worst nightmare.   Lazar had to return to Al Khuum to retrieve the signet ring Malik had stolen from him.   This section of the book was a bit disappointing and underdeveloped.   Foley had spent many pages inspiring suspense and interest in what happened to Lazar during his captivity, so expected a more exciting, action-packed scenario when the final showdown came between Lazar and Malik.   Instead the scenes were brief and spent more time highlighting Allegra's worry and attempt to help Lazar, then on the actual exchange between Lazar, Vicar and Malik.

When Allegra finally arrived at Malik's palace, she was able to help save Lazar and Vicar with the help of another slave, fourteen-year-old Darius Santiago.   Foley began drawing a comparison between Lazar and Darius as she introduced this new character into the story.   Even though events transpired quickly after Lazar, Allegra and Darius returned to the ship after their confrontation with Malik, it would have been nice to read more about the relationship that was developing between Lazar and Darius.   Since Darius is the hero in the second book of this series (Princess), will get to learn more about him when read his book.  

Foley revealed Domenic Clemente as a purely-evil, point of view character, who kept cropping up periodically throughout the story to inspire a bit of suspense.   Clemente wanted to keep his place as the new ruler of Ascencion and was determined to prevent Lazar from returning by putting a pirate's bounty on his head.   And, for some reason (probably because he hadn't had her yet), Clemente was determined to return Allegra to his side.   Even through Foley set all these cogs into motion, leading readers to expect a great big, exciting finale, with Lazar going toe-to-toe with Clemente over Allegra, the finale, while exciting, did not exactly inspire a big splash.

Foley displayed her talents as a writer by bringing forth tears during several scenes of this book . . . in spite of the lack of deep emotional connection to the hero and heroine of this book.   Since Foley spent so much time in the middle of the book regaling readers with the battles between Lazar and Allegra, she made Lazar's journey to becoming the new ruler of Ascencion brief and anti-climactic.   There was no battle nor a face-off with Clemente.   Foley had readers crying about the deteriorating relationship between Lazar and Allegra as the political pieces promptly fell into place, resulting in Lazar's acceptance as the new king.

Basically, The Priate Prince was an enjoyable read and not to be missed.   However, it will not find its way onto my favorites list.
--Vonda M. Reid (Friday, October 5, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.)   {282}
Note: Am I the only one who noticed that Foley spelled Ascencion with a "c" rather than an "s" on page 1 of The Pirate Prince (and all the way through the book)?   I mean the editors even spelled it as Ascension on the back cover of the book.   Look at all the sites that listed the trilogy as The Ascension Trilogy: {1} Amazon, {2} Barnes & Noble, {3} Fantastic Fiction, {4} FictionDB, {4} Good Reads, {5} Library Thing, {6} Paperback Swap, {7} Shelfari, and last, and most definitely not least, {8} Gaelen Foley's very own website.

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Books In The Series: "The Ascencion Trilogy"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.09-1998The Pirate PrincePrince Lazar di FioreAllegra Monteverdi
02.07-1999PrincessColonel Darius SantiagoPrincess Serafina di Fiore
03.02-2000Prince CharmingPrince Raffaele Giancarlo Ettore di FioreLady Daniela "Dani" Chiaramonte

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Characters Found In "The Pirate Prince"
Character Description
Prince Lazar di Fiore[Hero] (1) sun-browned, roped-calloused hand; last descendant alive from the great House of the Fiore (2) beautiful half-wild savage; piercing midnight eyes; powerful chest; ridged belly; fierce pride in hard chiseled face (27) arrestingly good looking; broad, elegant forehead; finely etched charcoal black brows, with devilish flare at outer corners; inky lashes; large, soulful black as the night sea eyes; proud, Roman sort of nose; rugged square jaw of a born conqueror; full, sensual lips (37) hair startlingly shorn to a coarse black stubble (39) half a foot taller than Allegra; granite-hewn body (40) pure, solid muscle (59) most intensely alive person Allegra had ever met (73) 13-y-o when left Ascencion (78) strong (92) Devil of Antigua; soulful chocolate-brown eyes, rays of gold in his irises (93) 28-y-o (116) powerful expanse of wide shoulders; lean, tapered waist (125) air of effortless command in his walk; power in broad shoulders; self-assurance in very angle of his chin (131) Queen's nickname for him was Leo (137) clever; charismatic (148) golden skin; muscled chest and arms; belly carved with flowing ridges; crisscrossing scars healed into a tough, leathery mesh that spanned his back in a gridiron design (152) extreme; intense; dangerous (177) had once been young and idealistic (194) large warm calloused hands (198) depth of character; strength (200) cynic (205) powerful body; deadly skills (213) massive shoulders; muscled back; restless grace; hard profile (239) joined Wolfe's brethren when 16-17 (244) sense of honor (247) sculpted grandeur of golden chest (249) Malik called him "Lazzo" (262) imagination; ingenuity (303)
Allegra Monteverdi[Heroine] (5) intelligence; spirit (10) lovely; good-hearted; slender, elegant figure; chestnut-colored hair; laughter like clear silver bells (19) childlike smattering of buttery freckles; large, expressive honey brown eyes, lashes tipped in gold; fineness in bearing commanded instant respect; focused grace that made her shine (22) gold-streaked chestnut hair (26) 20-y-o (116) brave; honest; idealistic; fierce, yet sweet; demanding, yet pure (167) irises the warm brown of cinnamon sticks (193) gold-tipped lashes (196) flawless face; elegantly curved auburn brows (197) beauty; grit; moral fiber (205) fresh-scrubbed; radiant; ivory skin (235)
. . .. . .
Mother Beatrice[No Appearance] ran convent school where Allegra was student (91)
Bernardo of St. Eilion[Secondary Character] Ascencion musician; kept the legend of Lazar alive (87) fat little bard (303)
Captain Bickerson[Secondary Character] one of Lazar's under-captains; captain of The Tempest (84) (233) giant towheaded Dutchman (234)
Bonifacio the Black[No Appearance] Lazar's ancestor // first king of the Fiori; cut down invading Saracens (127)
Brigitta[One Appearance] Nicolette Habsburg's lady in waiting (358)
General Enzo Calendri[Brief Appearance] King Alphonse's former cabinet member; head of the armed forces (210)
Don Carlo[One Appearance] Clemente's councilman (346)
Viscount Domenic Clemente[Major Secondary Character] Allegra's fiancé; governor's right-hand man; did everything with impeccable grace and elegance; pale gold, lightly powdered hair in neat queue; polished; sullen, pouting tilt to mouth; crisp, aristocratic angles to face; green eyes glinted like emerald blades (5) smooth condescension (10) blond (27) lean, athletic body (29)
Mr. Donaldson[Brief Appearances] one of Lazar's pirates // took Harcourt's place (321) ever-reliable purser (335)
Don Enrique[One Appearance] Clemente's councilman (346)
Emilio[No Appearance] Lazar's chef (167) attended de Medici school in Tuscany (169)
King Alphonse di Fiore [No Appearance] Lazar's father; king of Acencion; killed in ambush fifteen years ago // half as big as a mountain; mind as keen as the gleaming, ancient broadsword of the Fiore kings (79)
Queen Eugenia di Fiore [No Appearance] killed in ambush fifteen years ago // Lazar's mother (48) violet eyes (127)
Phillip "Pip" di Fiore[No Appearance] killed in ambush fifteen years ago // Lazar's younger brother (84)
Princess Anna di Fiore [No Appearance] killed in ambush fifteen years ago // Lazar's sister (48) four years old when murdered (84)
Captain Fitzhugh[Secondary Character] one of Lazar's under-captains; captain of The Hound; taciturn Scot with long gray sideburns and bushy eyebrows to match; about Vicar's age; one of Wolfe's first recruits from earliest days of the Brethren; more cautious than most of their breed; piracy was a business to him (233) old sea captain; honest man (236)
Father Francesco[Brief Appearance] King Alphonse's former cabinet member; archbishop (210) kind, grave soul (337)
Don Gian[One Appearance] Clemente's most intimidating councilman (347)
Giraud[One Appearance] one of Allegra's bodyguards (76)
Goliath[Brief Appearance] one of Lazar's fellow pirates; took Allegra // dark mop of mangy, ragged hair, beady eyes beneath a heavy brow, loomed has as big as Gibraltar (76) rotten-toothed breath (77) ham-like hands (90)
Gordon[One Appearance] Malik's Janissary warrior; Lazar's old friend; gold-haired English giant; known in youth for his practical jokes; nothing left of Lazar's friend in dead, metallic-gray stare (265)
Maria Antoinette Habsburg[No Appearance] Nicolette's older sister; married Dauphin of France (302)
Princess Nicolette Habsburg[Important Secondary Character] [Brief Appearances] betrothed to Prince Lazar; Austrian Habsburg princess; the bulldog girl (137) face of an angel; hair the color of winter sunshine; skin like fresh cream; cheeks pale pink roses; large, round cornflower blue eyes (357) 17-y-o (361)
Hamdy[One Appearance] Moor; worked for Malik; son of Ibrihim the Ugly (259)
Mr. Harcourt[Brief Appearances] Lazar's favorite boatswain (232)
Aunt Isabelle[No Appearance] house in Paris; raised Allegra last 9 years since death of mother (8)
Jacques[One Appearance] one of Lazar's men // sailmaker; garrulous; good-natured; from French islands in West Indies (243)
Jeffers[Brief Appearances] one of Lazar's fellow pirates; tough ex-convict; hulking man (84)
Josefina[No Appearance] Allegra's Parisian maid (148)
Sayf-del-Malik Al Khuum[Important Secondary Character] held Lazar captive when he was thirteen; ruler of Al Khuum // His Excellency Al Khuum; taught Lazar skills of intimidation (79) Malik; held Lazar as a slave; addicted him to opium (181) stolen Lazar's signet ring, faith, pride and self-respect; Sayf-del-Malik (182) "The Sword of Honor" (253) black eyes; beautiful; deadly as a shark (261) feeds off fear and pleasures of causing pain (271) lean; swarthy; sinister grace about him (274) evil palpable in the air (275)
Captain Landau[Secondary Character] one of Lazar's under-captains; tall, wily Frenchman; disowned son of a gentleman; captain of swift, beautiful brigantine Dragonfly (234) friendly; gallant; witty; attentive (337)
Maria[Brief Appearance] Domenic's mistress; loyal and obedient as Spaniel (55)
Andrew McCullough[One Appearance] one of Lazar's men (335)
Mickey the Bean[One Appearance] one of Lazar's men (335)
Duke of Milan[No Appearance] hosted wedding rehearsal dinner (364)
Lady Cristiana Monteverdi[No Appearance] died nine years ago // Allegra's mother; Eugenia's lady-in-waiting (48) beautiful; sad eyes; in love with Alphonse; Eugenia's closest girlhood friend (81) aura of strength; calm; steady poise (173)
Ottavio Monteverdi[Important Secondary Character] current Governor of Acencion; ruled for past 15 years // Allegra's father; brown eyes; middle 50s; medium height; reasonably fit; respectable paunch; slightly tense manner; handled guests smoothly, seasoned by decades of civil service (8) nervous; gray hair; did not like displays of affection; tidy; meticulous (9) King's old adviser (79)
Captain Morris[Secondary Character] one of Lazar's under-captains; foppish young American; self-styled buccaneer with no qualms about cutting throats (233) boy captain; dirty lace flounces on his sleeves (234)
Mutt[One Appearance] one of Lazar's men; head carpenter (335)
Don Pasquale[Brief Appearance] King Alphonse's former cabinet member; prime minister; called the Fox (210) golden eyes; hawk nose; cold; insidiously clever (337)
Pierre[One Appearance] one of Lazar's men // sailmaker; garrulous; good-natured; from French islands in West Indies (243)
Pietro[One Appearance] one of Allegra's bodyguards (76)
Doctor Raleigh[Brief Appearance] The Whale's surgeon (240)
Captain Russo[Secondary Character] one of Lazar's under-captains; fiery Portugese captain of the brig Sultana (234)
King Salvatore the Fourth[No Appearance] one of Lazar's ancestors (127)
Darius Santiago[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book Two"] 14-y-o; exceeding beautiful youth; compact and well proportioned of form; none of gangling awkwardness of his age; jet-black hair; brooding dark eyes under long, thick lashes; full lips that gave him a sullen, sensual pout (269) Malik's slave (270) Andalusian youth (274)
Sullivan "Sully"[Secondary Character] one of Lazar's under-captains; captain of The Hawk (84) "Sully": usually jovial; Irishman (85) (233)
"Vicar" / John Southwell[Important Secondary Character] Lazar's best friend; traveled with Lazar // from England; Lazar's friend; gentleman; used to be Angelican priest; "Vicar" (92) lean; distinguished; older gentleman; long gray-white hair pulled back in neat club (95) spectacles; deep-set silver eyes; keen, penetrating eyes; Devil's prisoner for 11 years; professor at Oxford University (96) kind man (248)
Father Vincent[Brief Appearance] Acencion bishop (13)
Wallace[Brief Appearance] one of Lazar's men (146)
Wilkes[Brief Appearance] one of Lazar's fellow pirates; Jeffers' hardened partner (84)
Captain Raynor Wolfe[No Appearance] killed in mutiny at battle of Antigua four years ago // the pirate king; Lazar once served (153) Dutch (154) long white beard; fierce gray eyes; missing a leg (243) instincts of old-time sea dog; madman; cruel; carried away with the cat-o'-nine (244)

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"The Pirate Prince" Quotations
162 Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are, . . .
--quoting Machiavelli

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"The Pirate Prince" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
. . . . . . Gaelen Foley Website Author
. . . . . . Gaelen Foley Facebook Author
A / Hot12-12-2005All About RomanceLea Hensley / Desert Isle Keeper Review
B- / Hot 04-20-2004All About RomanceDee Sains
4.41 average{79 reviews}Amazonas of: October 10, 2012
3.0001-08-2011Amazon: Reviewer "Regan"Excellent Review (on Amazon) {Regan's Romance Reviews}
4.0001-16-2005Amazon: Reviewer "ellejir"Excellent Review (on Amazon)
4.53 average{70 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: October 11, 2012
6 / 6 / 510-03-2002Eye On RomanceBear's Review
10 / 10 / 1006-09-2006Eye On RomanceKristen's Review
----Fact FictList of Books In Series
----Fantastic FictionList of Gaelen Foley's Books
----Fiction DBList of Gaelen Foley's Books
3.87 average{61 reviews}Good Readsas of: October 7, 2012
3.81 average{5 reviews}Library Thingas of: October 11, 2012 (1 German)
4.00 average{118 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: October 11, 2012
--01-03-2006Ramblings On RomanceOn Top Ten List: Short Blurb
4.50 / Top Pick03-30-2010RT {Romantic Times} Book Review1998 Best First Historical Romance Award Winner
3.40 average{10 reviews}Shelfarias of: October 11, 2012
4.5010-21-2006The Adventures of an Intrepid ReaderNew Find
5.0006-13-2009The Best Reviews[pj] also on: Good Reads, Library Thing
3.5010-13-2011The Book BingeHolly's Review; also on Good Reads
Number 805-23-2012The Historical Romance DestinationOn Top Ten List: Short Blurb
3.0008-12-1998The Romance ReaderExcellent Review; Valid Points
3.8510-08-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating
♥  Will Be Happy To Add Your Review Link to Table

1 comment:

  1. Like you, I enjoyed Foley's Knight Miscellany series and her Spice trilogy. I had to give up on The Pirate Prince halfway through the book, though. I just couldn't care enough about the characters. Enjoyed reading your analysis; it agrees with what I felt after reading the first half.