Jordan reviews A Pirate’s Heart by Catherine Friend


Pirates are one of those passions that tend to capture people in a phase, like your teenage mutant ninja turtle phase. And just like how I will always love those pizza pounding turtles, there will always be some part of me that jumps at anything about pirates; particularly when I can come across stuff about female pirates. That’s probably why I scooped up A Pirate’s Heart before knowing anything other than it involved pirates and ladies in love.

This particular pirate tale follows two sets of ladies: Emma with Randi, and Tommy with Rebekah. Emma the librarian and Randi the private investigator are in modern times, and unravel the mysteries of the great pirate Tommy Farris with only bits and pieces of the journals and letters that survived for over two hundred years, including the search for a treasure map!

Meanwhile Tommy Farris and Rebekah Brown are caught in the turmoil of discovering they may love each other while handling a terrible situation involving another jilted pirate, Avery Shaw. After all, the last thing Tommy expected to be her downfall was a scorned conquest from her past. But ever since Shaw became a pirate he’s been a thorn in her side.

The uniqueness in this entire novel happens to be the way the two stories were weaved together, through means of jumping between past and present to tell some of the story with third person narrative following Tommy, and then switching to first person with Emma Boyd. The biggest stick for this was the total jarring kick in the face when you are reading the novel and then suddenly you move to another chapter and the second story is just thrown at you.

The first change in perspective comes at such a random moment, a couple of chapters in, and exactly when you wanted to start reading more about Tommy Farris that it can definitely throw you off at first. I almost thought it was some interruption in the story for the author to talk about how she researched Tommy Farris, but as I kept reading I realized it was when Emma and Randi came in.

Despite the initial hiccup, once you are ready for the breaks in the story to be occurring they actually happen at perfect frustrating moments, to where you can almost feel the agony Emma went through of continually wanting to jump Randi’s bones and not being able to, in the form of always getting to a good moment in the story and then you have to jump to the next story!

Still the way these two stories were formed and put together was absolutely perfect. You completely get resolution with both of the stories, which I have to say is a heck of an accomplishment when many novels struggle to just finish the one main story line it has, this one had two main story-lines and a number of side plots mixed in that are all finished off in the one book. And while the breaks can be frustrating it is only so because the entire plot is so well done and the characters interesting enough that you wanted to keep reading about them.

This has to be one of the better pirate books I’ve read, but that could be that for once it was a pirate book about women! You really don’t get to see as many of those. Even knowledge on the different women pirates is pretty rare, let alone fictional stories about female pirates. So this is definitely one of those stories you should grab if like me, you were craving some more women pirate stories. Oh, and did I mention that it has a number of non-white female main characters in it? Total bonus there. Although I should mention that since it stays true to period there are some phrases and words some people might not like to see, particularly around the black characters.

Other than that the story is worth it, and unique; especially for the little supernatural surprise at the end of the book which just gave it a worth-while ending.

Oh, and always remember: While I breathe, I hope.



5 Replies to “Jordan reviews A Pirate’s Heart by Catherine Friend”

  1. SeattleRobin

    I totally agree with your review. I just reread the book a couple months ago and enjoyed it as much the second time.

    Like you, I’ve loved female pirate stories for forever, and lesbian pirates are even better. In case you haven’t discovered them yet and are looking for more, I can also recommend Branded Ann by Merry Shannon, and The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin by Collette Moody. (Typing from memory so might be slightly off on exact titles and spelling.) Though I think in terms of writing, A Pirate’s Heart is the best of them.

    I’d also recommend staying far away from The Sea Hawk by Brenda Adcock, as it was dreadful. Not just the writing and characters, but the glaringly absent historical research that anyone who has already read books about sailing ships will notice immediately.

    1. Random Jordan

      Branded Ann was recommended to me after I read this one, so you’re the second one to bring it up! I’ll definitely have to look into it. I also noticed Catherine Friend wrote a few other pirate books that might be interesting.


  2. Joan (@jinksb)

    Catherine Friend wrote a pirate novel? W00t! I know her from her non-fiction/memoir books about becoming a sheep farmer: “Hit by a farm,” (2006) and “Sheepish” (2011). I also enjoy her blog, I knew she had written a few children’s books, but didn’t know about her adult fiction. Thanks for helping me find more of her stuff!

  3. solargrrl

    This has got to be one of my favorite stories of all time. Happy to see your review of it. Actually, I loved the story so much, we got Catherine to record it as an audio book for We did a video interview with Catherine about “A Pirate’s Heart” and you can see it at the bottom of the page here:
    Catherine is a treasure herself for the lesfic community.

  4. solargrrl

    Jordan, Catherine Friend couldn’t get in here to leave a comment, so she asked me to pass this on:

    Jordan, thanks for the amazing review. I can recommend Branded Ann as well. Unfortunately, my other novels aren’t about pirates (so sorry) but involve time travel–a modern lesbian gets swept back into Spain in 1085. Much disaster ensues.

    Reading your review was like getting to know A Pirate’s Heart from a fresh perspective.

    Catherine Friend

    (from me: The novels she is referring to that take place in Spain are “The Spanish Pearl” and it’s sequel, “The Crown of Valencia”. Both excellent reads. 🙂 )