Where Have All the Pirates Gone? by Debra Mullins

Today, I’m pleased to present my guest blogger Debra Mullins, talking pirates in honor of her re-release of ONCE A MISTRESS!

Where Have All the Pirates Gone?

By Debra Mullins

When I was a kid, I used to watch the old swashbuckler movies with my dad on Sunday afternoons. We’re talking Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power—heck, even Burt Lancaster as the Crimson Pirate. Something about those wicked men of the sea fascinated me. I loved the swordplay and the adventure and the swinging across the ship on a rope. It set my romantic heart a-flutter!

Today I have a pirate book being re-released in digital format by Samhain’s new Retro Romance line. ONCE A MISTRESS has a new cover, but it was first published back in 1999 and is now out of print. It’s a book that’s close to my heart because it was the first book I ever finished (in seventh grade English class), as well as the first book I ever got published (many years later and after much revision).

Tall, dark and incognito pirate hero? Check.
Beautiful and fiery-yet-innocent heroine? Check.
Sultry Caribbean island? Check.
Evil no-one-can-catch-him pirate villain? Check.
Exciting battles at sea with canon fire and swordfights? Check!
Sensual, hot romance between the pirate hero and his captive? Check, check!

In ONCE A MISTRESS, Diana Covington is the daughter of a wealthy businessman on the island of Jamaica and knows that someday she’ll be married off to some well-to-do guy. But that doesn’t stop her from dreaming. She fantasizes about the pirates she hears talked about in whispers. When she gets kidnapped by the villainous Marcus in a plot to blackmail her father, her girlish fantasies are destroyed by harsh reality.

Our hero is Alex Rawnsley, a half Spanish Englishman who has sworn to bring Marcus to justice for the murder of his brother. In order to catch the uncatchable Marcus, Alex takes on the disguise of the wicked rival pirate El Moreno and tries to scuttle Marcus’s every scheme.

Alex’s vendetta is put on hold when he has to rescue Diana from Marcus. But once he’s got her, he can’t just take her home because Marcus will only kidnap her again. Instead he keeps her on board as captain’s woman, a ruse that starts out as a protection for her and ends up being more than either of them expected.

It’s just so much fun to lock people in a cabin together and see what happens! Especially when one of them is a good, old-fashioned pirate.

You know, not only were the pirates of the old movies dashing swordsmen with compelling reasons why they turned to piracy, they were always silver-tongued devils who could melt the heroine’s knees with the right word. Back in the eighties and early nineties, there were dozens of romances featuring pirate heroes. Then they slowly began to disappear, replaced by cowboys and dukes.

Now, I like a good cowboy and have even written a couple of westerns (being released in February and April of 2012), but those dudes can’t compare with a good pirate. And let’s face it, my smooth-talking captain can take your fancy duke any day. I mean, pirate captains are usually handsome and compelling and very attractive with their air of command. I would also go so far as to say they are willing to break the rules to get what they want. (Remember piracy, by definition, was illegal.) You mean to tell me a man like that doesn’t get your blood pumping?

I think we can all agree that pirates are really hot, and Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp as pirates certainly held their own with the dashing rogues of old. In fact, I was certain there would be a rash of pirate romance novels after that movie came out! But no.

So where have all the pirates gone? I’ve done my best to take you on a high seas adventure with a really hot sea captain in ONCE A MISTRESS, but there are just so few pirate books any more. Anyone have a theory as to what happened? Is it that romance heroes simply can’t compare with Orlando or Errol or Johnny? What do you think?

Published by luciennediver

Author of books on myth, murder and mayhem, fangs and fashion.

16 thoughts on “Where Have All the Pirates Gone? by Debra Mullins

  1. Great post Debra! I loved the old pirate movies, even the musical ones. One of my all time favorites is “The Pirate” with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. They were so much fun! I’m so glad that Samhain is breathing new life into books that I didn’t get to read the first time they came out. Here’s my wish that you have lots and lots of sales of your book! Congratulations!


    1. I have to admit, “A Pirate” certainly influenced me when I wrote ONCE A MISTRESS. Forget singin’ in the rain, how about that pirate dance where Gene is dressed all in black with the torches all around him? Swoon!


  2. I would love to see more pirate books. I agree they make compelling heroes. All I can figure is that the hero vampires took them over (I will say a vampire makes a bigger bad boy than a pirate). But the pendulum always swings and I believe pirates will come back again.


  3. Debra, I had the same thoughts when I wrote my pirate series. I finally sold to Berkley but it amazed me how many editors said, and one to my face, “Pirate books don’t sell.” I loved Johnny as Jack Sparrow. He just nailed that performance! I wish you luck with this re-release. Let’s prove that pirates aren’t dead!


  4. Deb- Pirates will come back into vogue once everyone gets tired of the vampires and werewolves – I already am.

    Kathye Q.
    (Longing for a good old Errol Flynn-type hero – yo ho!)


  5. I love pirates! I loved Rex Smith and Kevin Kline in Pirates of Penzance, and I love Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. I loved every one of Julie Garwood’s books with the pirate Pagan – some of the only books I’ve read multiple times! And I LOVE Peter and the Starcatcher and every other Peter Pan book or movie I’ve ever seen or read!

    Keep writing about more pirates, Deb! (I think I’ve read this one of yours, but I think I’m going to read it again to make sure! LOL!)


  6. I’m a die-hard pirate fan. Like you, Deb, my love of them started with Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn. Oh, and don’t forget Douglas Fairbanks JR and SR! I’d drool through every movie watching these gorgeously dashing men buckle their swashes all over the place and dream I was the girl in their arms! Sigh.

    Congratulations on the release.of your book. Like Marika, I can’t wait to read it.

    Ariana (EVA)


  7. I like a duke incognito as a pirate. Heavy sigh. Those give you the best of all worlds. A bad boy with a great fortune. YIPPEE!


  8. I love “The Pirate” with Gene Kelly, too. Anytime I find an old swashbuckler on TCM, I’m glued to the TV (hey, my kids are old enough to fix their own dinner. Or habe their dad do it.)

    In romance novels, I think pirates are mostly associated with the old time “bodice rippers”. They were always kidnapping the ingenue and >ahem< "forcing" themselves on her – which later is described as seduction because she really liked it. Pirates also ply their trade outside the boundaries of law and order so they're very unPC. But they sure are sexy – love the boots, the flowing shirts, the hats, and that glint of mischief in the eye



  9. Claymation is making a pirate movie. (from the studio that brought us Wallace and Gromit) The previews are hilarious. Still, the pirate is heroic even if his adventures are mostly misadventures.


  10. Pirates are always great fun. I think it’s the glint in the eye of a hero that gets me every time. I’m so pleased ONCE A MISTRESS is returning to the stage. 🙂


  11. Yes! One of the voice actors for that is David Tennant! The Tenth Doctor playing Charles Darwin. I’m not sure how Darwin got on a pirate ship but it should be fun.

    Also VeggieTales did a great movie – “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything”.

    Maybe that’s why there’s not as many pirates – they aren’t doing anything and they have Darwin instead of a fair maiden on their ships.


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