I could not put this one down and highly recommend it. It's going on my Best Pirate and Privateer Romance List.
Set in England during the years 1808-1814, this is one of those rare and wonderful love stories that sweeps you away to another time and place where you are caught up in the lives of people whose actions will affect not only their own and others' lives but America and England during the War of 1812. Deception and treachery born years ago lead to revenge and then to heartache. Busbee uses real characters, such as the pirate Jean Lafitte, to bring realism to her story as she seamlessly weaves history into a compelling tale. It's what I call a "dense" historical: one where the writing is so complex and so tight you're getting double the story you'd expect in the 538 pages.
Young Nicole Ashford led an idyllic life in Surrey with her wealthy parents and her twin brother until a boating accident one summer took them from her. Made the ward of an uncaring and barely related aunt and uncle who only want her fortune, and learning of their plans to marry her off to their ne'er-do-well son, at 13 Nicole dons the disguise of a young boy and runs away to sea as the cabin boy for an American privateer, Captain Saber. For 5 years, she sails with him as a boy, Saber paying her little attention. Then, when she is 18, Saber observes her swimming naked on a tropical beach and decides he wants her for his mistress. He bides his time and when Nicole and a seaman (who is really a British spy) decide to destroy English codebooks Saber has captured, they are caught. Using the life of the English seaman as a bargaining chip, Saber forces Nicole to become his mistress, until the American on a mission to spy for his new country decides to sail home, resuming his identity as Christopher Saxon, grandson of a baron. And so begins a complex, worthy tale of adventure, rich history (both England's and America's) and a love that could not be denied.
Should you want to read more, here is the whole Louisiana Series (stand alones but each with a connection to Louisiana and with some overlapping characters):
Gypsy Lady, 1977
Lady Vixen, 1980
While Passion Sleeps, 1983
Deceive Not My Heart, 1984
The Tiger Lily, 1985
Midnight Masquerade, 1988
Whisper to Me of Love, 1991 (to be re-released 2012)
Each Time We Love, 1993