Juliana Hargate, finds herself penniless and homeless when her father accused of embezzlement disappears. She trades her fancy dress for chimney-sweep’s clothes and few shillings (she knows she made a bad bargain) and sets off to try to clear her father’s name by sneaking into his offices at Hargate Shipping to steal files she hopes to use to clear his name. From the internal narration it is clear that Juliana is nearing some sort of psychotic break due to shock, distress and hunger but she still manages to climb on stacked shipping crates and sneak in to the building. It is a bad plan, but the only one she can think of. While Juliana was able to evade the guards, she does not escape the attention of Captain Nathaniel Bowen, who while impaired by having downed a bottle of brandy in celebration of having almost achieved his revenge, is not about to let anyone steal what he just won back. He rushes to the building and confronts Juliana, who after a brief exchange, is able to escape him, but almost dies when her escape route topples her into the water. Nate rescues her from drowning and comes to realize that the young pilfering chimney sweep is really is a woman in disguise.
By the time Juliana awakes without her memory, Nate has already become fascinated with her, trying to figure out who she is and why she was trying to steal from him. Juliana is doubly at his mercy, already vulnerable, without her home and her father missing, she doesn’t even know why she set out to steal from him and feels keenly guilty to receive some much from him. Capt. Bowen soon figures out who she is, further complicating his feeling for her. Will he ruin her out of vengeance or come to care for her and makes himself vulnerable to her when her memory could returns and she could betray him, or all of the above.
Juliana and Nate indulge in lots of hand-wringing,and wrestle with lots of angst as to the their identity, ambitions and relationship to each other as they spiral closer but it left me cold. On paper I should have liked both characters, Juliana is self-reliant, determined, despite being naively innocent about her father's guilt and Nate is darkly tortured by his past, but is a gruff guardian of poor and abused, but they simply felt like types, rather than people. I could intellectually follow their dismay and attraction I didn’t connect with either of the characters enough to care, about whether Nathan would ruin her in truth or if she would leave him if she knew the truth, especially when they rarely talked to each other about it, but instead mused to themselves or others about their feelings. And I have to admit to being disappointed that Capt. Bowen is not in fact a pirate, and the ship they spend the last half of the novel in never leaves the dock.
2 of 5 stars
A review copy of Falling for a Pirate was provided by Entangled via NetGalley for review purposes.