Review: Escape to Pirate Island


SERIES: Standalone
REPRESENTATION: Lesbian protagonists, FF relationship
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Historical Adventure Romance




Escape to Pirate Island

You can’t run away from yourself…

The year is 1720 and two young women are about to find themselves in more trouble than they could ever have imagined possible.

Cat Meadows is a smuggler who’s built her reputation on the backs of unsuspecting souls.

Lily Exquemelin has been left nothing by her father but his troubles and his treasure map.

Forced to make a desperate escape, they each find themselves on a Trans-Atlantic adventure that will pit them against pirates, mutineers, lost treasure, and each other!

Can they learn to trust one another and escape the clutches of their would-be captors or will their past’s finally catch up to them?



pirateisland2.pngEscape to Pirate Island is a proper old-fashioned, rip-roaring swashbuckler of a pirate story. It really took me back to the golden-age Hollywood movie reruns which I used to watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

The story follows two women whose paths happen to collide:

Lily, searching for her late father’s hidden treasure, low on options, has had to hire a slightly shady crew to escort her across the ocean.

Meanwhile, innkeeper Cat has had to pose as a young (boy) sailor in order to escape charges of smuggling and treason at home.

Personally, I felt that Cat was the stronger of the two characters. She definitely got the most in terms of page time, but more than that I think she had the most complex character and most intense character journey. She’s got a lot of emotional baggage and a lot of conflicts to resolve as well as being slightly more proactive (and personally I thought she decision-making was a bit more considered than Lily’s). If you like conflicted and morally-grey characters, Cat is a fascinating read. I did love both women though, and I thought it was wonderful that Murphy gave us two very different types of female character but allowed each to have their own motivation and drive.

Considering this book has the subheading: A Lesbian Adventure Romance, the two protagonists don’t actually meet until around halfway through the book. Even then, they don’t actually spend all that much page time together. I didn’t think was necessarily a bad thing though. As I said, I definitely thought Cat was the stronger of the two characters (if this was those old movies, she’d have been the leading man), and that Lily was more of a counterpoint, a supporting role or a love-interest. If you think of her this way, the amount of time they spend together and the way their relationship develops pretty much echoes exactly the kind of thing you’d find in those golden ages films: as a Golden Age love interest, she’s actually very complex. I don’t know if the author intended these elements to be so reminiscent of classic pirate films but, if she did, it’s a really nice touch.

The is a really fun, fast-paced (and occasionally, surprising dark) pirate story that I’d say leans more on the Historical Adventure than Romance. It’s got strong, complicated women, a great found family, moments of betrayal, more than one complicated relationship and difficult decisions for our heroines to make.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.


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