Book Reviews

Branded Ann by Merry Shannon at Bold Strokes Books

Genre Lesbian / Historical / Pirates / Romance / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Rachel on 08-November-2013

Book Blurb

No pirate on the high seas is more bloodthirsty than the notorious Branded Ann, a woman with eyes like ice and a face marred by a mysterious cross-shaped scar. When she raids a merchant vessel bound for Jamaica, her only objective is to obtain the map that will lead her to a legendary treasure. But she hadn't bargained on taking Violet, the merchant's young widow, on board her ship as a prisoner. In spite of her childlike appearance, Violet has a dark side of her own that Ann finds both infuriating and endearing.

As Branded Ann sails in search of treasure, her task is made more difficult by a stowaway child, an increasingly rebellious crew, and the treacherous seas of the Devil's Triangle; to make matters worse, she finds herself falling for her not-so-innocent but altogether charming captive. But will Violet be able to overcome the demons of her past and accept Ann's love? And will they survive the treasure hunt that has already claimed the lives of so many before them?


Book Review

Merry Shannon’s second novel for Bold Strokes Books, ‘Branded Ann’, is an amazing story of pirates, romance and adventure. The story opens in the late 1600s when a pirate ship captained by the notorious Branded Ann overtakes a merchant ship for a piece of a map leading to a treasure most pirates only dream of. Ann takes hostage a merchant’s wife, the pretty, innocent-looking Violet, and brings her aboard her ship, the Ice Queen. Ann, a ruthless killer, and Violet, a religious woman, are constantly at odds. Unexpectedly, both of them develop a strong attraction to each other. But can they create a life together with so much against them?

The book is great in so many ways, the first being the characters of Ann and Violet. Ann starts out as an uncaring, vengeful pirate intent on fulfilling a mysterious promise to her late father. She kills, robs, and injures so many people with only a small trace of humanity. But as the novel progresses and Ann falls in love with Violet, her good side begins to show and she experiences feelings she has not felt in a long time: guilt, compassion, and mercy. She slowly becomes a caring person again as she battles her demons. Throughout the book, Ann’s past is gradually revealed. Soon, she is not the same woman she was on page one.

Violet too, is a complex character. She may look innocent and meek, but in reality she too is running from her past, and will use her stubbornness to hide it. Her past is also aired, and though she goes through many perilous and horrible events, she remains a motherly, loving woman. At first I wondered how Ann and Violet, with their clashing personalities, could ever end up together. But by the end of the book they fit each other perfectly.

There is a cast of interesting supporting characters, such as Ann’s quartermaster Barclay, Charlie, a stowaway girl, O’Hare, the ship’s cook, and Newbury, the ruthless villain after Ann and her fortune. Little Charlie was especially memorable, with her adventurous spirit and the way Violet looked after her. Pretty much every character had their own personality and quirks that made them likeable, or so that I detested them immediately.

The adventures Ann and Violet undertook are told in a gritty manner showing the dark side of piracy. It was done so well that it seemed a more believable pirate story, and the events of the book were suspenseful. Including a tumultuous storm in the Devil’s Triangle, sword fights, mutiny, and searching a dangerous cave for treasure possibly protected by a ghost. All of these things were gripping and made the book hard to put down.

‘Branded Ann’ is a hardcore pirate story, make no mistake. But the slow redemption of Ann and the accurate atmosphere of the Caribbean in that time make it an immersive read. It felt to me like I was in Tortuga, Port Royal, and on the Ice Queen; Merry Shannon did such a wonderful job describing the scenery. For lovers of lesbian pirates, ‘Branded Ann’ is one of the best I’ve ever read. I strongly recommend it!





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 296 pages/104762 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 29-October-2013
Price $9.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
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