When the story starts, Sophia has been kidnapped by a highwayman who is after her guardian's money. This highwayman doesn't intend to harm Sophia, and tells her she is free to go in the morning. Sophia, acting meek and innocent outwits him and the highway man finds himself naked, and tied up in a cave, with Sophia and all of his money gone.
Five years later, Sophia put that money to good use to get away from her sleazy guardian and opened a bookshop with a companion of hers. But Sophia longs for something more in life, and gets that opportunity when a friend of hers asks her to sail to America to deliver a letter to someone named John Burrell. Seizing the opportunity, Sophia sails off, only to be almost to Florida when her ship is overcome with pirates. And guess who the pirate is that seizes her ship? Not only the highwayman from five years earlier, but John Burrell, aka Captain Jack, himself. When Jack realizes who Sophia is, he kidnaps her again and takes her on his ship. After he reads the letter Sophia was to deliver to him, he realizes there is a great treasure to be found. Problem is, he only has half of the map - and guess who has the other half? Sophia wants in on the treasure and together - unwillingly, these two head into the wilderness of Florida to follow clues.
Every aspect of The Bride and The Buccaneer impressed me. The adventure is just fun to read and it makes me wonder why I don't seek out more of these types of books. These two dislike each other so much, but the promise of 50,000 pounds is just too irresistible to walk away from. They fight, they try to outwit the other, and in the end, they find they just have to suck it up and work together. Sophia is very curious and independent with a free flying soul. Captain's Jack crew takes an immediate liking to her, and they find themselves wanting to please Sophia, but knowing they still must take orders from Jack. Sophia is very subtle with revenge though - for instance, after being kidnapped, Jack gives her his clothes for mending, and she mends them, but she also sews daisies on the fly of all of his underwear - just to spite him.
It takes awhile for the romance to happen, but when it does, there are really sexy scenes in this book. What I found somewhat refreshing is that there is no scheming or plotting by one of the protagonists to romanticize the other. They truly don't care for each other. They appreciate the other's physical appearance, but that is where it ends. It really takes days of them forced together to slowly come together and even then Sophia is very hesitant. It is a very believable, and heartfelt romance.
The tension builds so much, at one point when they first come together, Jack realizes he is not going to last long and starts reciting the names of the states to try to calm his body down. When Sophia does something a little naughty to his nether regions, he shouts out, "Ohio!" It is the small moments and quotes like this which will have you smiling throughout the book. Like the first time Sophia sees Jack naked in the sunlight:
"I never realized how small my hands are."
He snorted a laugh. "No sweetheart, you're supposed to say, "'La, sir!' What a monstrous engine of delight!,
HA! I am so stealing that phrase!!
Jack is all man, and very much at home being a pirate, or a privateer as he calls himself. He definitely has protective instincts over Sophia after he kidnaps her, knowing a single lady amongst the other wilder men could go wrong. Yet for the beginning of the book, he has many times he wants to throw her over the side of the ship, rather than bed her.
"What if you were blinded and I had to take care of you for the rest of my days?"
"Sophia, I have no doubt if I were blinded you would direct me to the edge of the nearest cliff and then encourage me to take just a few steps forward, rather than care for me all your days."
Sophia didn't argue.
There is also also get a lot of history of Florida in the early 1800's. This issue of slavery is brought up and there is a very poignant moment between Jack, Sophia and a slave that touches you deeply. I can't say enough how wonderful this book is. The ending is just perfect - and will have you laughing and sighing, and not wanting this adventure to come to an end.
The Bride and The Buccaneer is a wonderful tale full of humor, adventure, and a lovely romance that will sweep you away.