I'm going to do something right now that I honestly never thought I'd do: I'm going to sit in the British Library and type up a review of a romance novel I actually love to pieces. It's name? The Pirate Prince.
I first read The Pirate Prince my sophomore year of college. I lived with two other English majors and we had taken to buying romance novels and sharing them around, like some sort of vaguely sketchy library. Every novel bought was not for us but for the three of us and I guess you could say we had kind of a socialism utopia going on in that room, if only of the romance novel variety.
My best friend A had first read The Pirate Prince and told me I had to read it. I looked at it a bit questioningly (the cover seemed horrendous and seriously, The Pirate Prince?) but I trusted her judgement and jumped on in. So glad I did.
The Pirate Prince is the story of two ridiculously star-crossed heroes. First we have Allegra, the daughter of the governor of Ascension, an island nation around Italy in the late 1700s. She has spent the past nine years in school in Paris and has come back to her homeland with some new, radical ideas the bustling capital of instilled in her. She isn't happy with the way her father is ruling the kingdom.
Someone else unhappy with her father? Lazar de Fiore, the rightful king of Ascension. There was a coup when he was quite young and his entire family was killed. He only escaped by jumping into the sea. Now, grown up and, well, a pirate prince, he has come back to his home in order to reclaim his throne.
Lazar's plan goes surprisingly well and he ends up capturing a good number of the city officials. However, Allegra agrees to accompany him if he spares her father and the rest of her family. Thinking this is probably a more holy move (a family murder being what brought him here in the first place) and getting a pretty girl in the bargain, Lazar agrees. And thus begins the silliest but loveliest romance novel I have ever read.
Allegra is a strong female lead and I love her. She is no push over, saying no to Lazar more often than she says yes. She has her own views and opinions on how things she be done and she almost marries a man she doesn't love solely in order to be able to help the people of Ascension. Not that romance novels usually have weak heroines (you would be surprised), Allegra is definitely feisty, smart and just interesting to read about.
But let's just put that aside so I can talk about my favorite aspect of this book: Lazar de Fiore. He is my favorite male lead, possibly of al time. Why? Because he is the most ridiculous hero I have ever read about. First of all, he has the darkest past imaginable. His entire family was murdered in front of him, he was found washed up on a shore by an evil man who forced him to do evil things and then he rescued himself and became a pirate, ultimately trying to regain his throne. That's pretty dark.
Lazar, though? Not dark at all. In fact, pretty silly. I think the reason I love this book so much is that I would just burst out laughing at pretty much everything he does. Also, he's super dramatic, which only makes things better. Due to his humongous angst levels, he keeps a revolver in his desk should he ever reach a breaking point. The only bullet in it? Pure silver. Lazar, you're not a werewolf. What are you doing?
One of my favorite scenes in the entire book, which I still remember and laugh at to this day, is pretty early on after Allegra has agreed to stay with Lazar. They're up in the crow's nest and Lazar has been kind of down in the dumps all day. Allergra, although still not completely on his side, still likes him and decides to try and cheer him up. She asks him what she could do to make him feel better. Lazar perks up and smiles, all puppy dog and goes "You could sleep with me!" Allegra frowns at him and goes "No, I'm not doing that," and Lazar's head goes down again, kind of like "aww, it was worth a try." A and I still quote that at each other.
Basically, I adore this book because it is just ridiculous. Don't get me wrong; Foley is actually a very good writer. She's written a ton of period romances and each one is meticulously researched. She's also done two sequels to The Pirate Prince, following the lives of Allegra and Lazar's children. (I really hope you don't call spoilers. This is a romance novel, after all.) This, though, is by far my favorite. Way too much plot, ridiculous plot twists and out of this world characters. I love this book.