Cutlass by T.M. Franklin is a MUSTREAD pirate adventure that’s fun, romantic, suspenseful, and so well-written. I couldn’t put it down!
Funmbi’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
[For Mature Audiences; Some Spoilers]
T.M. Franklin is one of We So Nerdy’s very first friends and we adore her. The fact that she’s a phenomenal author is an added bonus because we’ve loved every opportunity to enjoy her words over the years. T.M. is so talented! Her ability to write across several genres demonstrates the depth of her imagination and artistry. So when I learned that T.M. was writing a pseudo-adult pirate adventure romance, I was HERE FOR IT.
I adore Cutlass from beginning to end! Of course the romance and UST between the two main characters is juicy, but what I enjoy just as much is the creativity of T.M.’s storytelling. Cutlass takes place in the heyday of British colonialism/global dominance of the high seas, as well as the Golden Age of Piracy. I can’t imagine the research it must have been taken to write this story, because while it’s historical fiction, the world-building, references, and relationships are very credible. Cutlass is fun, romantic, suspenseful, and so well-written!
A couple years ago, Sarina Talbot witnesses her father’s death during a robbery of their home. The intruder is able to abscond his prized cutlass (sword), and as her father is dying, he whispers one final word, “Tremayne”. In time, Rina learns that he means One-Eyed Jack Tremayne, notorious pirate and captain of the Black Arrow. She’s able to make her way onto the ship, posing as a 17-year old boy named Smith. Rina plans to kill Tremayne as vengeance and take back her father’s cutlass, which One-Eyed Jack does have! Things seem to be going according to plan when Tremayne takes Smith under his wing as his personal cabin boy. But soon, Tremayne uncovers Smith/Rina’s true indentity. And even more interesting he denies killing Rina’s father… however, he knows who did. Tremayne promises Rina her revenge in exchange for help with another project, finding the lost treasure of Simon Alistair Mellick.
What results is an amazing, cross-continental adventure, from the American colonies and across the Caribbean. Tremayne, Rina, and his crew follow Mellick’s journal to chase down clues, while avoiding the British Navy, privateers, and other pirate enemies. In the process, Rina recognizes her attraction to Tremayne. Sure, they’re constantly in close quarters, a result of his attempt to offer protection by claiming Rina as his woman. But she learns that Jack isn’t necesarily a villanous brigand. In fact, Jonathan has his own reasons for pursuing this treasure, ones that aren’t so different fom Rina’s.
Cutlass is such a fun read for several reasons. Sarina is a fantastic heroine. I love her gumption, despite the limitations placed on a young woman of her time. Rina is sassy and has the smarts to back is up… so much so, that Jonathan is incapable of ignoring her. Even when he thinks she’s young Smith, there’s something that draws him in. Of course, when he learns about Rina, he’s attracted to her beauty, intellect, and determination to make things right. Jonathan recognizes and admires these attributes because he’s the same way. When we learn about the circumstances that first bring Jonathan to the Black Arrow and the search for Mellick’s treasure, it’s really heartbreaking. He and Rina really are kindred spirits. This, coupled with their physical attraction, leads to some steamy verbal sparring!
“I’ll solve the puzzle and lead you to the treasure.”
He smirked, glancing at her sideways. “Just like that?”
She grinned. “Just like that, ”she said. “You’ll find I’m very useful.”
Tremayne leered, his gaze drifting over her slowly. “Aye, I’m certain you are.”
Rina snorted, rolling her eyes. “Of course, just when I start to actually like you, you find it necessary to revert to being a barbarian.”
He wiggled his eyebrows. “You like me?”
“Not anymore.” She huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. Tremayne barked out a laugh. “Oh, Smith, I think you do,” he said, standing to round the desk. “You know, if you’re ready to renegotiate our arrangement…”
He glanced pointedly toward the bed. Rina laughed, too amused to be offended.
“No, thank you.”
“No?” He raised a brow, stepping toward her.
Her stomach flipped. “No,” she said, voice cracking.
Tremayne’s smile grew as he leaned over her chair. Rina froze as his cheek brushed hers and his lips grazed her ear, warm breath eliciting an uncontrollable shiver.
“If you change your mind,” he whispered, “you know where to find me.”
She gasped as he stood abruptly and turned to leave the room. His low chuckle echoed down the hallway as he made his way to the deck, and it wasn’t until the sound faded that Rina’s breath steadied. She swallowed, her head spinning slightly. Tremayne flustered her, and she was not used to being flustered. She didn’t like it, at all. She was beginning to wonder if perhaps she just might be a little bit out of her depth when it came to Jonathan Tremayne.
Now, while things stay PG for the most part, there are times Rina and Jonathan takes things to the PG-13 level, and you know I appreciate that 😉
Any thoughts of why this was a bad idea—a terrible idea, bound to result only in a broken heart—flew out of Sarina’s mind, scattering like dust in the wind. All she could think about was more. More kissing. More touching. More of this. More of him.
She clung to Jonathan, trying to regain her balance, but the dizziness refused to dissipate. When his tongue traced along her lips, it seemed natural to part them, to breathe him in and taste him, heat and wet and rum deluging her senses.
Her fingers found their way under his thick mass of hair, beads clicking lightly as she scratched at his scalp.
He groaned in response, pulling her closer, crushing her to him as he devoured her mouth… “Bloody hell, what am I doing?” Jonathan murmured against her mouth, lips trailing to tease lightly at her neck. “What are you doing to me?”
Rina tried to respond, but no words would come—only a slight whimper as he tugged at the shoulder of her gown, pulling it down and licking over the revealed skin.
“Yes,” she whispered.
Yes. What else had she, really? No future. Despite Jonathan’s talk of suitors, she knew there would be none, not after the life she’d lived in the past few weeks. Why not take this now? Why not take whatever Jonathan could give her? Tomorrow would worry about itself.
“Jonathan…” She choked on the word, breath hitching in her throat with every touch of his lips. His fingers scorched her flesh, burning a trail to her very center. Her head fell back as he nosed at her skin, licking into the hollow of her throat.
“Aye,” he grunted, low and raspy, as he pulled her even tighter against his hardness. His mouth pressed open, hot and damp against her skin. It was all happening so quickly . . . so fierce and all-consuming. She clung to him, lightheaded and dizzy…
But when this is all said and done, Jonathan is still a wanted pirate. He can’t offer Rina the stable family life that society tells her she should want. But by now I think we know Rina has no problem being unconventional… 😉
In addition to Rina/Jonathan, I really enjoy Cutlass’ secondary characters, like Jonathan’s best friend and first mate, Max Baines, Max’s romantic interest, Charlotte Eaton, James Ceron, a pirate of indigenous descent and Rina’s good friend, and a hodgepodge of people that make up Jonathan’s circle of crew and acquaintances that help him in the treasure hunt. Even the big villain, when we meet him, is really well-written.
I’m still so impressed by the way T.M. is able to juggle these primary and secondary characters/plot points, along with the pieces of the mystery surrounding Mellick’s treasure. T.M. brings it all together in the end and does it so seamlessly, too!
Cutlass is MUSTREAD for fans of historical fiction/romance and those who generally enjoy adventure and suspense.
Congratulations T.M. and BRAVA! Also, if you’d like to share a more R-rated version of some of Rina and Jonathan’s tete-a-tetes, you will always have a willing reader with me!
A quest for vengeance.
A high-stakes treasure hunt.
An attraction they both try to deny.
Convinced One-Eyed Jack Tremayne killed her father and stole his prized cutlass, Sarina Talbot sneaks aboard the pirate’s ship to exact her revenge. To her surprise, she’s met by a declaration of innocence and an offer of help. She doesn’t trust him, and he doesn’t trust anybody. But they need each other to catch the killer and beat their enemies to a hidden cache of Aztec gold.
They’re not the only treasure-seekers, however, and there’s a traitor in their midst.
Caught between Crown ships and enemy pirates, Sarina and Jack discover a prize greater than gold as their uneasy alliance leads them on the adventure of a lifetime.
T.M. Franklin writes stories of adventure, romance, & a little magic. A former TV news producer, she decided making stuff up was more fun than reporting the facts. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards. She’s since written four additional novels and several best-selling short stories…and there’s always more on the way.
Many thanks to the author for an advanced review copy.