Beyond the Wild Wind introduces us to the feisty female pirate Istabelle O'Bannon
- well, she's not exactly a pirate, more a kind of Robin Hood character trying to make up for the flaws in her mother's behavior toward the poor and needy by redistributing wealth to them. However, her already impetuous nature has become worse since she was captured by a sea captain named Horik who mistreated her in some as-yet-unknown way. There is only one man
who she thinks can help her fight back against Horik, and that is her cousin Mangan, whom she hasn't seen for ten years. Still, she applies to Mangan for help by letter and waits for him to come.
Mangan, however, is spending a year in a monastery trying to find meaning in his life as the heir to an
earldom, so when Istabelle's letter arrives he doesn't know what to do. When
warrior Ruark Haagen arrives at the monastery with his injured foster brother , Mangan realizes that this famous mercenary will be able to help Istabelle. He bargains with Ruark to help his cousin in return for free medical care for Sven, the foster brother.
So Ruark, a mercenary warrior whose goal in life is earning enough money to retire and that's about it, meets up with Istabelle. Unfortunately, he doesn't meet her in the best of circumstances,
and when she mistakes him for Mangan, he is required to continue the deception for a little while.
But the little while extends to quite a long while as this story relies on "the Big Misunderstanding" to keep the protagonists apart. Ruark ends up on Istabelle's ship as they search for Horik's lair. But Istabelle finds herself strangely drawn to her
"cousin", who seems rather different than she remembered, and they also clash many times verbally as they are both strong characters. As they face Horik and learn things about each other, can the love between two people of such different rank survive?
This book relies on the "Big Misunderstanding" for much of the plot, and after the truth is revealed it relies on
the hero coming to the rescue and saving the day. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the storyline in this book; I just found it rather unsatisfying. There
are too many clichéd set-pieces, the behavior of the baddie seems fairly inexplicable in
terms of reality but is necessary for the plot, and the heroine's tame gyrfalcon
is frankly far too intelligent for a bird. There are some rather awkward plot requirements, too, such as the
item that Horik has stolen that Istabella needs to get back; it all feels a little unlikely, and Horik
is an amazingly stupid baddie. The love scenes between hero and heroine are also rather more corporeal than emotional.
The setting on the high seas is good fun, and there are some swashbuckling
swordfights. The book is enjoyable as a light read but doesn't have great depth and
is ultimately forgettable.