Branded Ann by Merry Shannon went up against tough odds with me as a reviewer. The reason for this is because I had categorised Pirate Lesbian Book in my brain as Shell Game (arguably one of my favourite books ever). So Branded Ann stood no chance, or at least that is what I thought.
I had read the other two Merry Shannon books, Sword of the Guardian and Prayer of the Handmaiden though, and were blown away by both, so I decided to “put on my big girl panties” (as my wife says) and just read the book.
The thing is, Merry Shannon wins you over. Her stories are so compelling and her characters so deep that you cannot help but fall in love and before I knew it this book had firmly wedged its way into my heart and given me another book to add to my Pirate Lesbian Book collection.
The story is about Branded Ann, a bloodthirsty pirate with a reputation for brutality as wide as the ocean. Branded Ann has only one goal in life and that is to find Black Dog’s treasure. She hunts down part of the treasure map and finds it on a merchant vessel that is heading for Jamaica. She kills the owner of the map and before she can kill his new bride, Violet, she finds herself oddly drawn to the woman and claims her as Ann’s own.
Violet won’t be so easily swayed and it is a constant battle of wills between her and Ann as they cross the ocean on a ship filled with ruthless pirates.
The story increases in complexity when the pirates become superstitious of having a woman on board. Their solution is to try and kill Violet, forcing Ann to face some tough choices.
When we first start the book we find Branded Anne to be a ruthless killer who doesn’t care about anything or anyone. Violet seems meek and fragile. But this is where the brilliance of Merry Shannon’s writing comes into play. Through a series of events we see how deep both characters are and how nothing is as simple as it seems.
The Writing Style
Merry Shannon writes beautifully. Her worlds are rich and her characters are real. She doesn’t fall into the trap of over explaining, yet her worlds are vibrant and detailed enough to make you feel like you are standing on the dock, watching the pirates offload cargo.
A great book with a fantastic journey, fulfilling character development and a lovely feeling of satisfaction at the end.
The only down side is that I have no more Merry Shannon books to read.
An absolute must for anyone who likes fantasy/adventure type novels with deep and complex characters.
I can truly say that Merry Shannon is right at the top of my Authors to Watch list and this book is a must read.
Excerpt from Branded Ann by Merry Shannon
Ann lifted her dirk to cut the prisoner’s throat, but before she could apply pressure to the blade the woman lifted her head and looked the pirate captain straight in the eye.
The young woman’s eyes were unlike anything she’d ever seen before, enormous and richly hued like gemstones. Her fair, delicate countenance was strikingly beautiful, in spite of the blood spattering her features. For a moment Ann experienced the strangest sensation of being swallowed into a midnight sky. Those huge eyes scanned her curiously, pausing with interest on the brand marring her left cheek.
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