Review: Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes

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A great cover for this story!

This was actually one of those books that I’ve had on my TBR for quite a long while, but never quite found the time for between review requests and my looming TBR structure. Well, twitter was all twoodling about how many fucks were in this book comparatively to the rest of this year’s SPFBO finalists (the most fucks, is the answer, as it happens) and so, I mean… I can’t not. I love books that A) don’t take themselves too seriously and B) drop the f-bomb like it’s their fucking job, and this book is indeed both of those things. So, here we are! 😀

Everybody knows Captain Drake Morass is only out for himself. 

As the fires of a dying city burn on a distant shore, Drake sees an opportunity to unite the other pirate Captains under his flag and claim a crown for himself. If he is to succeed, he will need allies and the Oracle named Keelin Stillwater, the best swordsman in the isles, as his right hand. 

With enemy ships sailing his waters and setting fire to his cities, and the sinister Tanner Black threatening to steal the throne before Drake even has a chance to sit upon it, Drake Morass must somehow convince the other Captains that his best interests are also theirs. 

Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in the Best Laid Plans duology and is set in the same world as The Ties That Bind trilogy, continuing Captain Drake Morass’ story where the trilogy left off.

Pirates were many things, Drake knew, but work-shy wasn’t one of them. They were men and women who eschewed rigidly lawful societies in a bid to make something for themselves, and there was no better way to make something for oneself than by taking it from someone else. It was a work ethic Drake could agree with.

I hadn’t actually read the blurb for this one until just now, lol. I didn’t realize that Drake Morass was in the Ties That Bind series and this was a sort of continuation of his story. Whoops! I actually have that series on my kindle too, and could have read it first, lol. Oh well. It doesn’t seem to be required reading in order to understand this story, though it is actually kind of awesome to know that he’s in another series I can read after I’m done this one.

Drake Morass is a pirate captain, and he’s one of those pirate captains who has quite a reputation for being… well… piratey AF, to put it bluntly. He’s not exactly unlike that one pirate that I bet many people would think of when one thinks of pirates in this day and age. He’s not totally like him, but he’s not completely unlike him. He’s quite charming, able to pretty easily lie or bluff his way out of trouble, but he is more than he appears on the surface. He’s cunning, and will go to quite a few lengths to achieve his goals, but most of all, he has a history which is mostly hinted at and seem to be full of all kinds of darkness and horribleness, and while he hides it well, it does influence who he is.

Drake is trying to unite the pirates of the pirate isles (that’s what I would have named them too!) under him as a sort of king, so that they can fight off the threat of the Five Kingdoms fleet coming to kill them all and burn their towns… and the first person he needs to recruit is Keelin Stillwater, another pirate captain and a man rumored to be the best swordfighter among pirates. Once they do unite, step two is to settle down and built a pirate town. Once they do, all kinds of shenanigans happen to them. Everything from leviathans, to ship-to-ship battles, to jungle escapades, to necromancers, to giant poisonous armoured centipedes.

The one really clear antagonist of this book, Tanner Black, was really, really easy to hate, because he is almost over-the-top an asshole. We see things from the POV of his daughter Elaina as well, who tries to stay in her father’s good graces, despite overwhelming (and I mean, really, really overwhelming at times) reasons for her to not like the man. I really liked both Keelin and Drake though, and many of their shipmates and the other captains that unite to their cause. There is a lot of lighthearted banter between these guys in this book, and I loved it for the exact same reason that I loved The Grey Bastards. Dudes (and sometimes ladies, so that was nice) who walk around mostly shitfaced, fighting or fucking, or talking about fighting or fucking, while just being brilliantly crass most of the time. I love it!

I would have made a fantastic pirate lady! (and a much less good lady-lady. With like… bustles and shit.)

Anyways, this was a really good read, well plotted, with great characters that I rooted for, and an ending that left me satisfied but wanting more. It read like a combination of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and Pirates of the Caribbean on crack (this is a compliment, I promise, lol). I gobbled it up as quickly as I could, and am eagerly hoping to gobble up more of the story soon!

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So much fuckery in the Pirate Isles! Heinous fuckery most foul!!

Well, I’m at the end of this review now, and I’ve just realized how alarmingly difficult this is going to be to copy to amazon. Fuck! Time to break out the asterisks, I guess!

This is a current finalist in the 2017 SPFBO – and boy, did it earn its place there!

You can see this book on goodreads here, and buy it on amazon here!

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