Backlist Review: Pirate by Fabio

Thursday, November 5, 2015
Title: Pirate
Author: Fabio
Genre: romance
Series: n/a
Pages: 394
Published: November 1993
Source: purchased
Rating: 1/5

My Love,They call me privateer—cold, ruthless, brazen and bold. Yet, from the first moment I saw you, I was overcome. You were but a helpless child, orphaned and innocent, when I rescued you from almost certain defilement and death—and whisked you off to my Caribbean island hideaway to be shockingly pampered by my loyal crew.And now you are a woman—as beautiful as the dawn...and as wildly unpredictable as the winds and the sea. You are in my blood, cara mia; your breathtaking loveliness haunts my dreams. But to have you, I first must tame you—to awaken you to the dangerous ecstasy of a pirate's passions...and a lover's touch.

1993. The first WTC bombing. Waco, Texas. The Tomsk-7 explosion. And Pirate by Fabio. A disastrous year.

The blame can’t be laid entirely on the man who killed a goose with his nose, however. Eugenia Riley, most well known for her time-travel romances, shares a “with” credit. How much input an Italian supermodel was allowed to have on the plot is up for debate, but Pirate is the first of five historical collaborations released in Fabio’s name. (As the 90s waned, he switched to a series of romantic suspenses titled, Dangerous, Wild, and Mysterious. A man of many words, Fabio is not.) I suspect Fabio of a fair amount of involvement, however, because Pirate features a very male plot.

Marco Glaviano has been a very busy young man. Between eighteen and twenty-two, he’s lost both of his parents, acquired a ship and crew, left Venice to turn pirate, gained quite a reputation, made an arch-enemy, sailed to “Arabia”, sailed to the new world, traded in his pirating for privateering, fought numerous battles, so impressed the British they gave him an island, and ended up in precisely the right place to rescue a twelve year old Christina Abbott.

(Marco Glaviano is also the name of a famous photographer from the eighties and nineties. He worked mainly with supermodels. Which Fabio is one. There is literally no way he didn’t know that when the main character was named. It’s like he predicted the rise of Google and picked a name so that when people searched, “Did Fabio work with Marco Glaviano?” they would get his terrible pirate book instead. - AN: Is Fabio a time traveler? Investigate further.)

Marco’s nemesis, Carlos, has raided an island. Marco watches dispassionately from his ship until he sees one of Carlos’ men preparing to rape a woman. Being a stand up guy who can’t abide a rape, (wanton murder and destruction are a-ok,) Marco sends his crew in to stop the marauding. He’s too late to stop the rapist, but during a daring sword fight, he gazes upon the innocent yet defiant visage of our heroine. Who again, is twelve. Deciding he can’t leave a child to Carlos’ ministrations, Marco kidnaps her and her nurse and takes them back to his island. (But not the woman he just watched get raped. She’ll just have to deal with the pirates herself.)

Once aboard his ship, Marco develops an unexpectedly fraternal/paternal stirring for the child, but Christina has something else in mind. For the next six years, while Marco spoils her like a favorite pet, Christina doggedly pursues him until she reaches the absolute minimum age Avon is willing to publish. A light is switched in Marco’s head and suddenly he realizes that his cara is totally boneable.

The plot is a complete male power fantasy, unlike anything I’ve seen in the romance genre. The precocious Lolita who pursues the virtuous, but dangerous, but sexually magnetic older man. Marco’s physical description is more Conan than Jack Sparrow, as the book lovingly depicts his strength and bulging muscles. Not that romance heroes aren’t frequently built like mack trucks, but Marco’s descriptions push beyond. He’s what men think women want. Sexually experienced, having enjoyed the company of a few wenches and whores, but not so many as to be intimidating. The kind of man who uses condoms, (in 1472!) so as not to be tied down, but fantasizes about getting you pregnant. A dangerous pirate, but pursuing justice for his dead parents. And above all, jealous, possessive, and completely unwilling to communicate.

Forgive me for not swooning dead away.

The book actually has an overabundance of plot, which frankly wasn’t what I expected. Christina’s Lolita ways force Marco to find her a husband, which sets in motion a “we all have to pretend to not be pirates!” farce. The orphaned Christina’s guardian is tipped off that she might still be alive and Carlos reconciles with his ex-mistress, recently snubbed by Marco himself. Three beta romances, two kidnappings, fake priests, miscommunications, secret babies, animal sidekicks. It’s a lot of book.

And that book is bad. Some of it is a product of its times, teetering just on the edge of “old skool” romance, where rape was a common plot point, even between the hero and heroine. I suppose I can grudgingly give points there; Christina is always eager for Marco, even when, say, she was just kept as a sex slave and boning should be the last thing on her mind. (Marco’s mistress, however, is a victim of this nonsense. Warning, though none of you should read this.) Likewise, the word “manroot” may have cause my cervix to descend and slam shut like Fort Knox, but I understand the 90s were big on the purple euphemisms. And I expect nothing less than sails unfurling about masts in a book called Pirate. However, the vast majority of my issues are just bad writing.

There are a lot of plot holes. First, as I touched on, Marco cannot be twenty-two when the book begins. It’s just not possible. The very existence of a thriving island filled with crops and partners and children who are definitely older than four proves this. The island was given to Marco as a base when he joined the British, which couldn’t have been more than a year before the start of the book. It just doesn’t make sense. Also the author thinks flamingos live in the Caribbean. And that you can sail, in 1472, from Charlestown to beyond Havana in a week. And that there’s such a thing as a black cheetah and it can be your pet and you can ask it for love advice and it has a mane at at least six years. (I have a lot of feelings about the cute animal sidekick.) The author thinks men curtsy and there are only two Spanish people in the world and Carlos should talk like he’s in a telenovela, because Spanish. That "I had to kill the poor bastard. After all, a man is better off dead than not a man [castrated]."

And then, in an effort for a forced happily ever after for all the subplots, characters to flip motivations on a dime. Christina’s guardian literally just up and disappears. Bad guys are good, getting married is a suitable punishment for sex slavery, and attempted murder is just laughed off with a, “jealous women, am I right, folks?!” I have honestly never read a book that hates its intended audience so much.

When I picked Pirate up at Goodwill, I expected bad writing, weird sex scenes, and a goofy cover. I was hoping for something funny we could all laugh at, (and yes, Rosa getting a snake up her cooch and Monique getting doused with water and taking it as a sign from God are definitely what I was looking for,) but mostly I just got sadness. There’s some promise in the faking respectability plot, but it’s buried under the awful conceit, Christina’s petulance, and Marco’s anger. Racist, misogynistic, and just plain bad, let’s not go back to these good old days.

1 comment:

  1. There is just so much to digest about this novel. I am both astonished it was published and NOT astonished it was published? I think this is my favorite "And I expect nothing less than sails unfurling about masts in a book called Pirate. " but who knows -- that could change the next time I read this review.


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