Title: The Pirate Next Door
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Published in October 2003 by Dorchester’s Leisure Books
Related Books: (1) The Pirate Hunter
She knew that there was something about her neighbor, the dashing and unconventional Viscount Stoke, but until she saw him hanging from the chandelier in his bedroom, well…things change. So does her opinion. He suddenly moves on her list from eligible husband material, to a man to be avoided at all costs, but that is not to happen. Fate has another destiny in mind for the young and beautiful widow, and Alexandra Alastair has no idea where it will take her. What she does know has already put her in the Viscount’s field of vision, and she is not sure that she wants to be there. He has discovered her list, and added what he deemed were the appropriate marks beside his name. Now she really can argue the points with him, but Alexandra wants to try to stay as far away from that as possible. She is thoroughly convinced that she needs a mate who is steady, dependable, and who will give her the children that she so desperately craves. A faithful man would be a plus too, but she has a feeling that discretion is the only thing she can ask for at this point.
Her departed, and un-mourned late husband made her a laughing stock, even if it was behind her back. She was well aware of his many affaires and mistresses, and of his lack of interest in her. The loss of her child was not even enough to bring him to her side, and she figures, given her current circumstances, the indifference of her husband was a plus. The hard truth is that she is not a desirable commodity, but may be tolerable as a wife, to bear the needed children, and keeping that in mind, she is determined to launch herself into, then steer the best course that she can through the marriage mart. There is no way that she is going to allow Grayson Finley, Viscount Stoke, to put a crimp in her plans. She will find a proper husband, and she will marry him. Even as much as she has come to love and care for the Viscount’s vivacious, beautiful, and tomboyish hoyden of a daughter, she will not let that sway her decision. She is a proper lady, and she will have a proper marriage…won’t she?
There were always the oddities in life that threw one curves, and knowledge of these, and the capricious whims of fate were not strangers to Grayson Finley, Viscount Stoke. From the moment that the beauty burst into his life, saving it in fact, he can think of little else. The business that he’s involved with is dangerous, and the men that he’s dealing with are enemies with scores to settle. There is also the little matter for the Admiralty, if it’s successful, and concluded to their satisfaction, they could clear him. Of course the same information could be turned against him and would certainly take away his freedom at least, or at the worst, cause his death. Alexandra poses a definite problem in that she is a great distraction. He could not afford distractions before, and cannot afford them now. The problem is that there is an attraction that he cannot deny, and it is growing at an almost frightening rate, blossoming between them and proliferating with alarming speed. What makes the fact even more devastating to him is, by all his senses and instincts, he can sense that the feelings are mutual, and that is nearly irresistible.
Grayson knows that the lady is in danger because of him, knows that his enemies will not hesitate to try and use her against him. And indeed, they have done so already. James Ardmore, the American who considered himself an accomplished pirate hunter, and his mortal enemy had already tried to take her hostage. Ardmore could not afford to be caught, and his henchmen were somewhat sympathetic to Alexandra’s plight and shocked at the lengths that James would go to for revenge. That fact allowed Grayson to venture boldly on Ardmore’s ship, and take Alexandra back. The revenge would have to wait, but Finley knew it was coming. Ardmore would not stop in his vendetta, and Grayson wants desperately to protect Alexandra, keeping her and his daughter, Maggie, out of harm’s way. Now, the only problem is…how to keep Alexandra out of trouble?
For those of you who didn’t read Jennifer Ashley’s book Perils of the Heart, go get it now! For those who did…welcome to another fine Jennifer Ashley Romance. I say that to you not because The Pirate Next Door is a sequel, but because Jennifer is a sublime storyteller, and I am pretty sure that you will agree after reading this book. Alexandra Alastair is in a bind socially. She has the propriety of widowhood, but the pressure to remarry is getting stronger from her happily married friends. They are convinced that she is not happy, and indeed, she is not. Her mother’s friends are taking a proprietary interest in her choices, and Lady Featherstone has gone as far as prompting her into making a list of the ton’s eligible males. The kink gets thrown into the works when the new Viscount Stoke moves in to take up the reins left to him. An overheard conversation sends her rushing next door, and what and whom she finds turns Alexandra’s world upside down.
As for Grayson Finley, he is very thankful that his beautiful red-haired neighbor came to his rescue. Yet, try as he might, he cannot get over the attraction that he feels for her. He thinks it is because he hasn’t had a woman in a long time, and puts that on his list of things to do. Once again, destiny has plans for the bold brash pirate-turned-Viscount, and the battle is joined. The wonderful thing is that Jennifer Ashley has invited us along, and it is a trip that is well worth the taking. The Pirate Next Door is a fun-filled romp with enough danger to keep the reader interested, and intrigue to touch the most jaded of souls. As for the characters, especially Grayson and Alexandra, they are best described as the “interesting neighbors next door” because that is the familiarity they allow. The skillfully written romance is definitely one that is going on my Keeper Shelf, and anyone who reads The Pirate Next Door is sure to want to go back and pick up Jennifer’s first Dorchester book, Perils of the Heart, as well. Once again, Dorchester’s Leisure Books brings us an excellent October release in The Pirate Next Door, and I heartily recommend it for your own shelves!
Yours in good reading,