As You Wish
by Eloisa James
Okay, I'm going to review the two stories separately (and, just a warning, but there will be spoilers in the review of the second story)...Summary: With This Kiss - Lady Grace Ryburn is in love with a dashing young lieutenant, Colin Barry, but she turns away, thinking that Colin is in love with her sister. Should Colin throw propriety to the winds, imitate his pirate father, and simply take what he most desires?
Seduced by a Pirate - After years at sea, Sir Griffin Barry comes home to claim his wife. But is Phoebe his wife, if their marriage was never consummated? As an infamous pirate, Griffin claimed and kept gold and jewels… but this is one treasure that will not be so easy to capture.
Let's start with Seduced by a Pirate, seeing as it is the first in the book.
Seduced by a Pirate was... Well, it was disappointing to say the least. Out of all the Eloisa James stories I've read, this one is by far the worst. It was really, really boring and the alternating POV's were incredibly annoying and the characters and romance were just so flat.
One of the things about regency romance stories that make them fun to read is the build up -- you know it's going to end in happily ever after, because it always does, there's always a lot of predictability to them...the fun is in the twists and the banter and all the stuff that comes before that happily ever after. But this story was just totally void of that.
On top of that, I kept thinking "have I read this before?" and I'm still not sure if I have or not meaning it was either really unoriginal or I had read it before but it was so forgettable that I can't remember reading it.
I'd rate this story 1 star out of 5. I don't know if maybe it would've been better if it was longer and had more time to develop the characters and relationships, or if it was just a mediocre story in general, but yeah... I sort of hated this one.
Now, the second story -- With This Kiss. This one was actually the main reason I wanted to get this book in the first place. And... Well.
In comparison to the first story it was a vast improvement. I hated being bored while reading and I can overlook a lot of flaws in a book so long as it doesn't bore me. The second story wasn't boring like the first one was, but it did feel very rushed.
It would have been a decent story had it not included a scene that I'm really, really not okay with. Basically, there's a rape scene but it's not treated as rape at all -- a guy is drugged out of his mind (as well as being newly blind) and yet the woman has sex with him anyway. She does this knowing he is drugged, knowing he's in a very vulnerable position, and believing he thinks she's someone else. Plus, her intention seemed to be to trap him into marriage anyway... Then, after it, he barely remembers the details and the only mention of rape is the victim actually worrying that he might have raped her, when she was the rapist in that situation.
I don't care if the reaction is historically accurate and I don't care if he really did love her, a scene like that being romanticized or treated like it was anything but what it was... that was just not okay with me at all. Had the roles been reversed, with the woman being the one drugged then the reaction (in the book and in other reviews) would've been vastly different. It felt like it was perpetuating this idea that men can't be raped, because they're bigger, they're stronger, because their body reacts in certain ways.
Overall, I'd rate the book 1 star out of 5. I am still a big Eloisa James fan, she is one of my favourite authors of regency/historical romance, but I just didn't like this book at all. I think maybe her actual novels work better for me than her short stories (so long as no more scenes like the one in this book crop up).