Museum Quality

Pleasuring the Pirate by Mia Marlowe writing as Emily Bryan

Click to order a Pirate of your own!

File this under totally random! I recently discovered that Pleasuring the Pirate (one of my vintage reads written as Emily Bryan) is on display at the Museum of London Docklands. It’s part of an exhibit on pirates in popular culture and shares the space with Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow memorabilia.

This tickles me to pieces because this cover has not been without its problems. First, one of my writing buddies, Jacqueline George from Australia, pointed out that my hero is wearing his sword with the hilt backward. I thanked her, but as usual, I had little say in how how the cover was created. Frankly, his sword is not the first thing I noticed about this hunky hero, but the world is filled with people who are more observant than I.

Then I learned the Pleasuring the Pirate cover was on a lampooning site where visitors were encouraged to write snarky captions (As in: “My neck is too long to be a proper heroine. Damn my ostrich blood!)

So the fact that my prodigal pirate is getting a little highbrow attention for a change is a treat. And it’s really pretty appropriate that it is on display in Docklands because my hero does end up at Wapping where he faces the hangman’s noose. Here’s a brief excerpt from that scene in Pleasuring the Pirate:

Her skin was satin and fire at once, smooth to his touch and flame to his senses. He took her rosy peak in his mouth and tasted a bit of heaven. Oh, that little sound she made as he pleasured her. He’d give anything to hear it again.

A bell tolled in the distance.

She arched into him and he gathered her close. She spread herself to receive him, making those helpless little noises of urgency that threatened to shred his control.

Someone was still ringing that damn bell.

He dove into her, home at last. He—

Opened his eyes. The bell was real. Slow and measured, it tongued a relentless message.

“They always ring the bell on hanging days. Gives folks cause to reflect and repent if they’ve considered taking up evil ways,” Pinckney had told him. “And time enough to nip down to Execution Dock. The good spots go fast.”

Gabriel sighed and rose from his bed. He’d slept remarkably well for someone who knew it was his last night on earth. And his dreams . . . well, Lyn had been with him all night, alternately passionate and tender. His body still throbbed. It was a pity he hadn’t been able to finish the last dream.

He scraped the dark stubble from his chin and dressed carefully in the new suit of clothing Isabella Wren had thoughtfully ordered for him. A condemned man was expected to appear in his finery and thanks to Jacquelyn’s mother, Gabriel would be turned out well enough to appear before King George himself. He ignored the full-bottomed wig she’d sent over, clubbing his own dark hair back into a queue. He never liked wearing a wig in life. He doubted death would improve the experience.

Gabriel waved off Pinckney’s offer of breakfast. Not only was the gruel unpalatable, Gabriel didn’t want to burden his belly with something it would only purge later. To this end, he’d shunned food since Lyn left him for the last time. If he was bound to die, he’d make it a good death. The thought of his own shite streaming down his kicking legs was almost worse than hanging itself.

As he was led out into the autumn sunshine, he experienced a strange sense of well-being, a lightness of spirit that he surprised him. He stepped up into the ox cart that would bear him to Execution Dock, feeling oddly thankful that it wasn’t raining. If a man had to die, why not die on one of those rare bright days when the world was fresh and bright and full of promise?

The cart rattled away from Newgate, squeezing through the twisting lanes and past the Tower. It must have rained in the night. Puddles collected in the sunken cobbles shimmering on the old streets like pools of liquid silver. Why had he never noticed before how astonishingly beautiful everything was?

Crowds were beginning to follow him. A few jeered. One or two bowed their heads in prayer for his immortal soul. A little boy hurled a rotten cabbage at him. It struck him squarely on the chest, leaving a patch of muck on Gabe’s brocade waistcoat. Gabriel smiled at the lad.

“Well thrown,” he called.

“Thanks, mate,” the urchin replied, hefting a second cabbage and then deciding against it.

Gabriel had faced death before, in countless skirmishes and battles and hadn’t flinched. But when the pirates fished him from the deep and gave him a choice, he’d been afraid to choose death. Now that the choice was made for him, he felt only calm resignation.

And more than a little curiosity. If, as Shakespeare said, death was the “undiscovered country,” he would look upon this day as the start of a new adventure. Despite what he’d told Lyn, he did talk with the priest and was assured that his sins, though they were many, were forgiven. Gabriel wondered if his father would be there to greet him when he stepped through death’s portal.

The oxcart turned a sharp corner and the gallows of Execution Dock came into view.

Please, God, he prayed for the first time in years, let me not arrive in that strange new land with shite on my breeches.

Pleasuring the Pirate by Mia Marlowe writing as Emily Bryan

Click to order a Pirate of your own!

There were hundreds of people jostling on the wharf. He could hear dozens of conversations going on around him, all sharp and distinct. He grasped the rough wood of the oxcart’s rails and felt each splintered indentation in the grain. All his senses were on high alert as he looked out over the crowd who’d come to see him hang. He almost expected to smell the color of the harlot’s red dress as she shoved her way to the front for a better view or the muddy brown smock and apron of the tanner’s apprentice who’d enterprisingly climbed a light pole.

The gallows at Wapping’s Execution Dock were built low on the bank of the Thames, so that once a prisoner was hung at low tide, his body might be covered over by the prescribed three tides as a warning to others. Gabriel descended the stairs to the dock and mounted the scaffold without assistance. To please the crowd, he turned to the hangman and made a leg to him, as elegantly as possible for one whose hands were bound. The executioner nodded a silent acknowledgment behind his bizarre leather mask. The gathering cheered Gabriel’s bravado.

He gave the same obeisance to the stoop-shouldered official who regarded him through a raised lorgnette. When Gabriel passed the hooded priest, he was surprised to hear the man whisper, “Courage,” instead of intoning a blessing.

The official wheezed through a lengthy recitation of Gabriel’s crimes. Flashes of his life scrolled past his vision, the blue-green water of the Caribbean as vivid and fresh as if he were actually there again. The official droned on and the crowd began shifting restlessly, emitting a low growl of warning not to try its patience indefinitely.

Wind whipped up a whiff of the Thames, a brackish stink of dying shellfish laced with tar. Gabriel shut out the vision of that sludgy water washing over his corpse. Instead, he conjured Lyn in his mind.

He had no regrets, save her. He should have married her in Cornwall, taken her against her will if necessary and Devil take the rest. But he’d never have made her happy that way and with a start, he realized that making her happy was more important to him than anything. Even his life. So he couldn’t have done anything differently and the thought gave him a certain amount of peace.

Suddenly, the official and the crowd fell silent and he realized he was expected to speak.

“Of the crimes listed, I am guilty,” Gabriel said, his voice ringing against the row of buildings that hugged the waterfront. Onlookers even leaned from the second story windows. “And of sins unlisted, I am also guilty. So I go to a just punishment without resentment. Of my life, I will say only that I was blessed to have loved once and loved well. My one regret is that I was unable to love long.”

Pleasuring the Pirate by Mia Marlowe writing as Emily Bryan

Click to order a Pirate of your own!

The crowd chuckled at his gallows humor. He noticed one wag scribbling furiously on a portable writing desk. Gabriel’s death speech would find its way into one of London’s ubiquitous tabloids.

He didn’t have time to wonder if the speech would be judged good or not, for his attention was riveted to the hangman. The noose was slipped around Gabe’s neck and the knot by his left ear cinched tight. Gabriel took a deep breath.

______________________

That’s the end of the excerpt. Yeah, I know. I’m a terrible tease. ;-)

Any pirate-type questions out there? You know me. If I don’t know the answer I’ll be happy to make something up. (Just kidding. I’ll ask someone smarter than me!)

24 thoughts on “Museum Quality

  1. Vivian Davis says:

    Ooh, that is some pirate on the cover! Congratulations on its appearance in the Docklands museum. That’s a really fun tidbit for the bio. :)

    And yeah, you got me hooked too. Now my to-read pile is even more out-of-control! But thank you. Really. :)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Pleasuring the Pirate is available as an ebook, but I leared just yesterday that Dorchester is going to reissue it in February 2012 in beautiful trade paperback!

  2. Mia Marlowe says:

    Thanks, Ash. You’ve been having some great news yourself lately, Miss RT Top Pick! ;-)

  3. Ashlyn Chase says:

    Awesome!

    Although I didn’t critique this one, I did read it and I’m glad it found a spot in history. What a cool feather in your cap.

  4. Mia Marlowe says:

    Oh, Jacqueline, I would never class you as a pedantic old fart! I love it when I meet people who know more than I do. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to fix his sword problems.

    So glad you enjoyed my story.

  5. It wasn’t just that the sword hilt was the wrong way around, the way he had the damn thing stuck in his belt, it would have poked him in the stomach every time he moved. But you’re right, Mia. Only a pedantic old fart would notice something like that.

    And I bought a copy, in a bookshop in Townsville, Queensland (back in the days when we used to have bookshops!) Good writing, and I can thoroughly recommend it.

  6. ClaudiaGC says:

    The Docklands Museum is a great museum. Loved it there, not as good as the British Museum or the Military one but close. :)
    I haven’t read a pirate book in ages. They were one of my first romances. Loved your excerpt!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I’ve not been to Docklands yet, but there is a really fun pirate museum in Nassau in the Bahamas. They emphasize Blackbeard, Ann Bonney, Mary Read and Calico Jack’s nefarious careers.

  7. catslady says:

    I should know better to read excerpts – totally hooked which of course is the idea lol. How wonderfully cool to have your book displayed!!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks, Catslady. It had been a while since I thought about that scene in my PIRATE, so it was fun for me to revisit it. I think the way he faces death is very revealing of Gabe’s character.

  8. Barbara Britton says:

    That’s awesome to have your book on display in London! Your pirate is hotter than Johnny Depp.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Gabriel doesn’t nance around like Jack Sparrow either. I never quite got that aspect of the characterization. If you ever saw Depp in THE LIBERTINE, you know where some of that swagger came from. Not attractive to me, but evidently it was all the rage during the late 1600-early 1700.

  9. Nancy says:

    I do miss Emily and yes you are an awful tease. However being “Hung” with Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp is – well as Shakespeare might have said, “like a rose between two thorns”.. Well played madame, well played.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      You don’t need to miss Emily. She’s still here. ;-)

  10. Twitter the heck out of it, Mia–maybe hold a contest to see if you can get someone over there to get you a picture!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      That’s a good idea, Stacey. I’ll give it a shot.

  11. Dani Harper says:

    What a fun place to find a copy of your book! Great excerpt too. This caught me in a pirate mood, just having watched the 3rd installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. :D

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Disney-style pirates are such fun. The real ones were terrifying. One of the things I learned when I wrote this book was that the skull and crossbones flag wasn’t the worst thing they flew. If they ran up a solid red fleg, it signaled they’d neither give nor receive quarter. They intended to kill every soul aboard.

  12. Oh My Gosh, Mia, I love it. It’s been awhile since I read “the Pirate” and seeing this blurb reminded me how much I liked the book. I’ve got to find it in my keeper bookcase and reread it.

    Congratulations on vindication, too. :) I wish I could see the Pirate display it’s in.
    Good Job.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I wish I could see it too, Barbara. Unfortunately a weekend zipping off to London isn’t in the budget just now. ;-(

      Thanks for finding a spot for my book on your keeper shelf! Now that’s a placement I’m REALLY excited about.

  13. Sandy says:

    You hooked me good, too, Emily. Kudos to you for your book ending up in such a place of honor.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I suspect the book is there more to make people smile than to honor the story, but I’m glad to have it out there in the public eye.

  14. A curse on your head, Tease–you hooked me good! :)

    Seriously, beautiful writing.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Just call me the happy hooker, Stacey! Thanks.

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