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R. Nassor may spend more time with books, tea, and ceramic mugs than recommended by professionals but it hasn’t failed her so far. Nassor has a MA in English Literature from Georgetown University, where she looked at the way medieval and early modern literature reappear in fantasy books today. She’s been writing about romance, fantasy, science fiction, and pop culture for quite a while, starting at Book Riot in 2020. She’s also written for Tor.com. You can follow her on Tiktok and contact her through her website.

Ahoy! Welcome aboard. On this ship, all pirate romance books end with a pirate sailing into the proverbial sunset with their love. Taught sails, sturdy planks, and an oh-so-dangerous ocean await. Get ready because you are in for a nautical treat.

Pirate romance books have long brought solace to readers who want to find love at sea with dangerous, daring, and heroic rogues. Pirates are the bandits of the sea. Even a privateer sanctioned by the government to be a pirate gets a pass in romance. After all, they have all the appeal of a pirate and the ability to operate in society if they want to.

Pirate romance books undeniably offer a world of tropes for authors writing in the space. Pirate romance books provide opportunities for characters in the relationship to confront danger and overcome hardship together. When a captain falls for a member of the crew or a captive, they must negotiate issues of hierarchy in their romantic relationship. Also, no one can deny the ship provides a natural environment for forced proximity to occur.

After pulling together this list, I would like to make a personal request for more queer and diverse pirate romances. Diverse pirate romance books would not only be historically inspired, but they would also have the added bonus of being very fun to read. Nevertheless, I do believe I have compiled nine of the best pirate romance books out there, so let’s set sail.

Swashbuckling Pirate Romance Books

Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins

As the descendant of pirates, Pilar knows how to steal a ship. But when she ties Noah to a bed and steals his ship, she never expects him to track an expert gun runner like her down. Noah has never wanted to marry and set aside his life of adventure, but when he finally finds the woman who stole his ship, he begins to rethink his position. As Pilar and Noah explore their growing desire, they begin to unpack their past together and work to define what a new nautical future might look like together. This isn’t the only Beverly Jenkins pirate romance book, though: check out Captured when you’re done with this one!

Content warning: sexual assault

Hunt on Dark Waters by Katee Robert

Evelyn should’ve listened to her grandmother when she told her to stay away from vampires. Instead, the disastrous end to her situationship with one lands her in a lifelong contract on a pirate ship in another dimension. Evelyn may have escaped her angry vampire ex-girlfriend using a portal, but even a witch as talented as her cannot find her way out of her new magical contract or around the attractive telekinetic captain who leads the ship. She will have to bide her time with a pirate crew charged with eliminating threats that lurk in the sea’s murky depths and try not to fall for the captain she’s determined to escape along the way.

Content warning: attempted sexual assault

To Win a Witch’s Heart by Andie J Christopher

As a witch, Mercy has escaped her religious family, survived the witch drowning test in England, and ran away from her village when they turned on her — all on her own. So, when the fastest racing pirate rescues her from another ship, she expects him to be just another person she would have to flee. Mercy would love to return to her life as a healer, but Xavier has other plans. The pirate wants to know what Mercy wants so he can give it to her. If she has to stay on board for that to happen, so be it. Now, Mercy has a chance to learn her own power and the means to use it. The seas best be wary of a power couple like them.

A Song of Silver and Gold by Melissa Karibian

Who doesn’t love a sapphic Ariel retelling following a princess disguised as a male pirate captain and a banished siren warrior in human form? When Princess Kaelyn’s brother died battling sirens, she vowed to avenge his death by adopting the disguise of Captain Kae. Under the sea, siren warrior Aqeara is banished for her part in the attack that causes the death of her princess. Determined to regain her place in the court, Aqeara becomes human for a month to capture the captain’s heart and revive the princess. Although Kae unwittingly welcomes the disguised siren on her ship, she cannot risk letting the mysterious woman into her heart.

Content warning: homophobia

The Captain’s Choice by Wren Taylor

Escaping an unwanted wedding to a man she doesn’t love is just the start of Mona Lloyd’s problems. It turns out she didn’t stow away on a normal merchant vessel but a full-on pirate ship. When Captain Elinor Davies discovers a gorgeous stowaway aboard her pirate ship, she decides to let her find a place aboard. The runaway bride is testing Elinor’s vow to never fall in love again as Mona continuously rises to the challenges of life at sea. This historical romance is the first book in a swashbuckling sapphic duology perfect for any lover of pirate romance.

Pirates of Aletharia by Britney Jackson

A sapphic pirate captain. A dragon sorcerer. A treacherous journey. In the open ocean, nothing is more dangerous than two powerful women on a ship in a heated feud. Emilia Drakon is still coming to terms with being the last of her kind and being on the run from an execution. Unsurprisingly, she is furious when the famed pirate Captain Maria Welles tricks her into joining her crew. But as the two women work side by side, they are forced to risk it all and confront their undeniable attraction.

Content warning: sexual harassment

The Fate of Stars by S D Simper

Tallora just wanted to do a good thing. After all, any mermaid saving a princess stuck at sea during a storm would expect a thank you. Instead, Princess Dauriel captures her and brings her to her mother for her approval. When even that act of fielty does not warm her mother’s heart, Tallora begins to question everything. As Tallora and Dauriel’s attraction grows during captivity, the princess can’t help but think freeing Tallora is her only option to save them both.

Content warnings: torture, sexual harassment

To Conquer a Bride by Naima Simone

In the year 2117, shipping heiress Niall Hudson’s life changed forever when she was captured by a pirate on her wedding day. Her fiancée’s brother, Zaid Ito, is set on reclaiming a lost family heirloom and, with it, his claim as firstborn son to the heir of the family business. Stealing Niall is just the first part of his plan. Zaid may be on the run from his brother and on the hunt for a lost heirloom, but that won’t stop him from trying to win over his new captive. Niall might just be on board with Zaid’s plans in more ways than one as the pirate’s irresistible charms become more and more apparent to her.

To Ravish a Rogue by C.M. Nascosta

Two monsters in disguise take the sea in this new fantasy romance inspired by the classic Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey. Charlotte Davenport is a monster pretending to be a human woman pretending to be a cabin boy on a pirate ship to get a ride home to her sister in Atlantis. Her layers of disguise hardly fool the monster pretending to be a human man at the helm of the ship, Captain Lirian Jurel. The pirate is practically ensorcelled by a creature pretending to be his new cabin boy, and so he makes a deal that they will be together on the ship in exchange for her ride home. There is nothing more dangerous than two monsters becoming attached to the idea of love.

Pirate romance books are genuinely lovely little vessels of pure joy. A ship might not be everyone’s idea of a romantic getaway, but with these books, it’s impossible to avoid the appeal of love at sea. If you are looking for some other pirate books, try these YA books about pirates, these SFF pirate books, these queer pirate books, and the best pirate books.

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