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O'Malley Saga #1

Skye O'Malley

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There has never been a woman like luscious, raven-haired, hot-tempered Skye O'Malley. She is the courageous seafaring captain of her own mighty fleet, and intelligent enough to win a battle of wits with Queen Elizabeth herself. Follow along as Skye O'Malley is swept up in a journey filled with romance and passion that takes her from glittering Ireland, to lush Algeria, to the heart of London in pursuit of a unique and eternal love.....

480 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1980

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About the author

Bertrice Small

112 books1,010 followers
Bertrice Williams was born on December 9, 1937 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, the daughter of Doris S. and David R. Williams, both broadcasters. She studied at Attended Western College for Women and Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School. On October 5, 1963, she married George Sumner Small, a photographer and designer with a History Major at Princeton. They had a son Thomas David. She lived on eastern Long Island for over 30 years. Her greatest passions were her family; Finnegan and Sylvester, the family cats; Nicki, the elderly cockatiel who whistles the NY Mets charge call; her garden; her work, and just life in general.

Published since 1947, Bertrice Small was the author of over 50 romance novels. A New York Times bestselling author, she had also appeared on other best-seller lists including Publishers Weekly, USA Today, and the L.A. Times. She was the recipient of numerous awards including Career Achievement for Historical Romance; Best Historical Romance; Outstanding Historical Romance Series; Career Achievement for Historical Fantasy; a Golden Leaf from the New Jersey Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America; an Author of the Year (2006) and Big Apple Award from the New York City Romance Writers chapter of RWA, and several Reviewers Choice awards from Romantic Times. She had a "Silver Pen" from Affair De Coeur, and an Honorable Mention from The West Coast Review of Books. In 2004 she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by ROMANTIC TIMES magazine for her contributions to the Historical Romance genre. And in 2008 she was named by ROMANTIC TIMES along with her friends Jennifer Blake, Roberta Gellis and Janelle Taylor, a Pioneer of Romance.

Bertrice Small was a member of The Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, PAN, and PASIC. She was also a member of RWA's Long Island chapter, L.I.R.W., and is its easternmost member on the North Fork of Eastern Long Island.

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October 10, 2021

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Bertrice Small has a very distinctive style. So distinct, in fact, that you could probably make a drinking game of it, although I would advise against this, as the end result would inevitably be alcohol poisoning. When you pick up a Bertrice Small book, you know that the hero and heroine are going to play a game of musical beds, until the end of the book where they're magically reunited with their 5+ children from various marriages in which their spouses were kind enough to politely off themselves in order to prevent inconvenience. You know that there are going to be bad guys, identifiable by their nymphomania/frigidity and outlandish sexual fetishes if they're women or their penchant for doing it in the butt if they are men. You know that the sex scenes are going to be outlandishly bad, with phrases like "honey oven," "love grotto," and "manroot" being used so liberally that you begin to feel like Regina from Mean Girls as you think to yourself, "Oh my God, Bertrice, stop trying to make manroot happen. It's not going to happen!"


Skye O'Malley takes place in the 16th century. Our eponymous heroine is the youngest daughter of an Irish ship merchant/pirate, Dubhdara O'Malley. She's the prettiest of his plain daughters, so naturally she's his favorite, even though he desperately wants a son. Even though all the doctors advise against it, Dubhdara has sex with Skye's mom once more, unable to control his passions, gets her pregnant, and ends up killing her. That's okay, because adolescent back-up mom is ready and waiting in the wings. She's pretty cool for a stepmother, though, but Dubhdara O'Malley can go to hell.

Anyhoo, Skye O'Malley is a very familiar type of heroine for those of you who are into the whole bodice-ripper. She's independent and her traitorous-bodied person will not be controlled by any man - except for the crotch-hoisting alpha d-bags on parade, that is. They're the only exception. We see this in how she staunchly rebels against her father's chosen husband for her, Dom, who is a d-bag. She thinks her father's right hand dude, Niall Burke, is pretty cute, though, and the two of them have some sensuous make out sessions and pledge their mutual adoration of one another. Niall wants to marry her but his father is titled and snobby and thinks a ship captain's daughter isn't a good enough catch for his son (a decision he rues in earnest once he lays eyes on her for the first time and sees how perfect her breasts are). Niall watches in despair as Skye is wedded to another man before his eyes, with her perfect breasts on display in an indecent wedding gown, and that's when he announces his intent to take droit du seignur . Or as he puts it to Dom, "Your life, or the wench's maidenhead" (6%).

They have a magical night together, but then Clan O'Malley conspires to tie him up and bandy him away because this marriage is important politically, and Niall's father has a wife chosen for Niall already (an almost-nun spirited away from the convent just before she took her vows). Skye is sent off to live with Dom who becomes increasingly abusive, and in keeping with true Small fashion, we know that he's the bad guy because he likes to do it up the butt. Also, he's having sex with his sister, Claire, because why not pull a Jamie and Cersei Lannister for the fun of it? Why the hell not?

Niall weds Darragh and Skye gets fed up with Dom and ends up attacking him back, paralyzing him for life. She announces her intent to leave, saying that if they attempt to make demands on her, she'll announce their shame to all. Claire swears revenge. Honey Skye don't care. Darragh ends up going away for some reason...to become a nun again, I think, because she hates sex (and you can tell that she's the bad character because she's frigid and hates having sex with the hot studly muffin that is the alpha d-bag hero). Conveniently freed up, he and Skye become betrothed, but Skye tells him that she's going to be in control of her ships & they go on one of the charters...only to get wrecked!

I could make a joke about sinking ships here, but I won't. I'm above that. I'm a mature ad -


Skye winds up in Algiers, with amnesia, where she is sold into a harem run by an attractive Spaniard-turned-Muslim, Khalid El Bey (or as I like to call him, Khalid El Bae, because he is the most likable male character in this book). Khalid initially intends to turn Skye into a courtesan but she doesn't like being touched by his right-hand-woman, Yasmin, or the training eunuch, consenting to physical acts only with him. He decides that the harem life is wrong for the beautiful Skye, and instead decides to marry her, which angers Yasmin, who has been contriving to become one of his wives for years - and now that this becoming is a one-woman show, Yasmin has absolutely no intention of exiting stage left. After Skye becomes pregnant, Yasmin conspires with this captain dude named Jamil who wants to have Skye for himself. She wants him to help her kill Skye, thus freeing up Khalid for her. He agrees...but with a twist - he's going to drug Khalid, so that he will be in Skye's bed. So instead of killing Skye, the love-maddened Yasmin will kill Khalid, thus freeing up Skye for him. My bae dies, and Yasmin is so distraught she kills herself after confessing all, and Skye is forced to escape from Algiers with the help of her friend Robert Small, but not before drugging Jamil in revenge with a powder that turns him impotent. I thought for sure that Jamil would appear again later on in the story, but nope, that's curtains for him. After this sequence, we never see him again.

Meanwhile, Niall is in Majorca for some reason and meets this count whose wife was held hostage by pirates. He considers this a taint on the family honor and has never allowed his daughter to marry because of this, scaring off potential suitors by insinuating that she's the offspring of a gang-banged whore. Niall is enchanted by the barely-adolescent Constanza and after having sex with her in a field, announces to her father that her virtue is compromised before offering for her hand.

Skye lies low for a while with Robert for a while, who helps create a backstory for Skye with amnesia. He has the feeling that "Wife of the Whoremaster of Algiers" is not a title that will impress the Elizabethan court. So he comes up with a tragic story for her before they go to England, and with her riches she buys up property next to Geoffrey Southwood, who is entranced by her perfect bosoms and her utter disdain for him. He enters a bet with his friend that he can make her his mistress before the year is out, made more tempting because he has a feeling he knows who Skye really is and can blackmail her by threatening to ruin her young daughter's prospects by exposing her secrets.

But Geoffrey falls prone to the beauty of Skye and after having sex with her many, many times in many, many places, ends up marrying her. Niall comes to the wedding with his new bride and is horrified to see the ghost of his presumed-dead wife marrying another man. He wonders if it's her, or if it's one of her father's bastards. His preoccupation ends up isolating him from his wife, who begins to take up lovers. It turns out that Constanza is a nymphomaniac, and her mother was as well - yes, the countess wasn't actually a victim, she voluntarily had sex with all of her pirate captors because she didn't think her husband did a good enough job, and Constanza is cast in the same mold. She actually goes to work in a brothel under the pseudonym "Book Lady", acting out scenes from the Kama Sutra, and the brothel is run by none other than the Incesty Claire, who is thrilled at this chance at revenge!

There's a duel, and Niall kills one of the men who slept with his wife before taking a wound to the chest. Skye gets all her memories back and is devastated to learn that she was married to Niall and has two other children she totally forgot about. Geoffrey is jealous. There's a disease that kills off two of her children and her husband, but not before we're treated to the picturesque scene of Skye's servant hooking her fingers into Geoffrey's mouth to pull out the mucous clogging up his throat. Ew. With Geoffrey out of the picture, Robert Dudley starts sniffing around her skirts, before blackmailing her into sex. We know he's the bad guy, because he enjoys doing it up the butt and also because he makes Skye call him "Papa" during sex. Ew. Skye goes running to Queen Elizabeth and finds out that Elizabeth not only knows about this, but condones it, and then swears revenge.There's a scene with a giant, rapey orgy, involving a twelve-year-old girl and a dog. I'd say that this was a shock to me, but in one of Small's other books, BIANCA, there's a very similar scene involving a donkey. The book rapidly ends with piracy, imprisonment in the Tower, and a happily-ever after.

SKYE O'MALLEY is definitely not for the faint of heart. A lot of the male characters are unpleasant, even the alleged heroes. What Geoffrey did to his ex-wife and daughters was despicable. Niall was cruel to his other wives as well, and at several points comes pretty dang close to raping Skye. The only reason she isn't treated like human garbage is because she's beautiful. If you're not gorgeous, with heart-shaped face, sapphire-blue eyes, and perfect breasts, you're not worth the air you breathe, is that it? That's the status quo for most bodice rippers though, so Small can't really be faulted for keeping with the popular tropes of the time. The adolescent (or in some cases, even child) sex/rape is more troubling and difficult to stomach, but again, that happens in a lot of older romance novels - especially the medieval ones. That doesn't make it fun to read about, though. That dog scene, especially, was entirely unnecessary, and seemed done only to underscore what an utterly despicable person Robert Dudely was (as if we didn't know that already from his butt-happy ways). Also, Bertrice Small proves that she's too good for walking off into the sunset hand-in-hand; her happily reuniting couple indulge in a bit of lactation porn instead - because why not? Why the hell not?

My favorite parts of the book were actually the scenes that most people seemed to like least - the food and costume porn. Say what you like about the dubious content (and consent) in Small's books, the woman clearly had a passion for history, even if she wasn't always quite sure what she wanted to do with it. I think I'd have liked to peruse her home library and see what works of fiction and nonfiction inspired her to come up with some of the stories she did. There's beautiful descriptions of clothes and food in here that made me itch to go shopping. It's pretty hilarious, though, combing through the reviews. About half the people who read this book seemed to love it and the other half seem to loathe it entirely for the reasons I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Understandably so, I'd say.

I read this book for the Halloween 2016 Reading Challenge I'm doing with the Unapologetic Romance Readers group. One of the categories was "a romance written by an author who is dead" and sadly, Bertrice Small died last year. What a loss. I mean that, too. I have a love-hate relationship with her romances, but I do think it's cool that she had a style that was so distinctly her own. Few authors are capable of achieving that, and as much as I make fun of Small's style, I'm envious of it, as well. When her book went on sale for $1.99, I snagged it, because I knew immediately that she was the author I wanted to pay homage to in my challenge. If SKYE O'MALLEY was just 200 pages shorter and a bit better edited, I think I would have liked it a lot more, but it's still a worthy addition to the cringeworthy bodice ripper cannon. Read at your own risk!

2 to 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Eh?Eh!.
363 reviews4 followers
May 10, 2010
Rbrs #3

This was supposed to be the "good" romance, the one that has some popular acclaim and merit. Hah!

The book itself is a no-star wonder. I hate it, with the same passion all the characters seemed to have for endless and immediate boffing. I skimmed a bit then went back to the beginning with a non-drinking drinking game-type system, of marking certain types of passages with colored tabs:

Yellow = dumb, eye-rolling, wtf, you're kidding, now you're making sh-t up
Pink = well that wasn't too bad because at least she was willing
Green = hold on while I swallow back the vomit...nopeit'scomingout - bucket!
Blue = how beautiful is she? sooooooooo purty!
Orange = food glorious food

At about 70 pages I gave up yellow because too much of it was dumb. At about 100 pages I gave up all but orange. At the 1/3rd point I went back to skimming. Here's a visual of the carnage (just 1/3rd of the book, I would've run out of sticky tabs if I'd tried to mark the whole book):

This book...rape (of every hole!!!), globular breasts and cupped buttocks, having the heroine act idiotically but then having everyone admire her intelligence, stating something and then having a character repeat with the exact words within the same page, despicable men (every one of them), emphasizing again and again how beautiful she was and how everyone desired her for her beauty and how wonderful her beauty made her and my god she's beautiful...I don't know where to begin...maybe with the words of those who actually read the whole book, the brave, the masochistic, the wild-eyed with anger, the adept at making fairytale analogies, I applaud their determination.

The one aspect I want to cover - the ess-ee-ex. Hoooooo boy. The last romance had a cheery leer when it came (heh) to the sex. I mean, there was a sequence that was followed for "start-up" and the "finish line" and for the most part it didn't sound "bad." This one, the descriptions were almost perfunctory. Except for when it was abusive. Which was most of the time. Oh man, the abuse. To quote Elizabeth, ICKICKICKICKICKICKICKICKICKICK! Ick.

I wonder, would I have hated this book so much if I'd stumbled upon and read it on my own? How much have I been influenced by the reviews of those whose opinions I respect? I keep mentioning, my reading habits have changed like crazy since I started spending too much time on this site. I used to read casually, a swish and spit; now it's become practice to carefully examine, sniff, masticate thoughfully, absorb and digest. I can't seem to forget I might have an audience, all of whose mental dexterity is like Cirque du Soliel (they're in town right now!) where I can't even touch my toes...the pressure! I try to read more critically now. I'm not very good at it because I still boil down to "like it," "don't like it," "'cause." Does that suck some of the mindless enjoyment I used to have for junk like this? I'm not sure.

This enormously long book (not as enormously long as many of the men our heroine encountered) highlighted how slow I read. I'd always thought I was sort of a fast reader. Nope. Slug. Sloth. The formation of stalactites and stalagmites. Governmental reform.

The enjoyment, though, came from reading this with other goodreaders who made the experience fun. Fun! It was making me flip-flop on my opinion of this book, just like our heroine switched from loving to hating to loving to forgetting to ignoring to hating to loving the same man. The idea that reading is a solitary act has been pointed out to me before, by a very neat person on this site (you seem to have found offline life because you're rarely on here anymore, yay! but also sad to me). We all think at different speeds and in different ways, so silent reading locks us away in ourselves. But having this group who discusses, comments, mocks, jokes, and tears apart this awful book made this a social event. I was engaged to the point of wanting to read this in order to participate.

In the months I've been more active on this site, I've seen waves of activity and read of past waves; much lamentation for the past and it seems not allowing that grieving to fade hinders from allowing the now to be enjoyed. Some waves have been bad; lets focus on the good. I've read of and observed the most touching friendships that had developed through mutual love of books and sense of humor. We get great recommendations, assistance in picking out books that are more likely to appeal from the oceans of titles. I've laughed myself to tears. I've found stimulation that had been melting to nearly nothing since all my peers began coupling up and away to staid conservatism. For all this, I can't quite fully hate this book. I love this site. I love you guys. I'm not drunk.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,633 reviews5,002 followers
November 21, 2020
You are Skye O'Malley, practically perfect in every way. You are bold and beautiful. You are brave and independent. You are headstrong and tempestuous. Your sapphire eyes flash, your lustrous hair cascades, your heaving bosom heaves. You are a good daughter and a loving mother; you are a kind mistress to your servants. You are as brilliant as you are beautiful, with a facility for numbers and accounting, and a tongue skilled in many languages. You don't ride horses side-saddle and you can captain a ship as good as any man. You are filthy rich. You are a Mary Sue of the highest caliber! You are, as they say, the whole package. Even your most dangerous enemy is of the highest rank: Queen Elizabeth! You will have many adventures and you will love many men. You will travel from romantic Ireland to romantic Algiers to romantic England to a romantic smuggler's isle to a romantic ending in your lover's arms. You will love and you will fight and you will forget and you will remember. You can be conquered in only one way - if but briefly. You aren't ashamed to say that you love sex, you passionate woman you. Your "honey-oven" is apparently made for it.

You are Bertrice Small. You decided to write an historical adventure - but for the ladies! Your heroine will be everything a heroine can be. You will provide her lots and lots of sex, most of it good, some of it bad, all of it very graphically detailed. You will provide her lots and lots of love, all of it good, and due to a tragic but convenient memory loss, and then a tragic but convenient murder, and then a tragic but convenient illness, those many examples of true love will all be relatively guilt-free. You will also provide her some kids, but no need to get into that, they're barely there. You will, most of all, provide your reader with deliciously detailed descriptions of delightful destinations - every locale you send your heroine to will be described in the most luscious way possible. You love glamour. You are definitely no slouch with the adjectives! You could beat George R.R. Martin when it comes to all of the very specifically illustrated settings, outfits, food, and clothes. You definitely have him beat when describing hair color, eye color, amount of male body hair, creative ways to describe a penis, and especially on how to very specifically please a lady. You could also beat Song of Ice & Fire when it comes to the sadism! You have a similar disinterest in moralizing and that means many scenes are incredibly uncomfortable as they nonchalantly recount the horrific subjugation and degradation of women throughout this time period. You shrug at any reader outrage. Your writing style may be a bit embarrassing and your plotlines insane, but you could care less. You know what this is about: giving a woman the best and worst life possible! You realize that life is often too boring to deal with boring adventures. You hate being bored! You make sure your readers never experience it.


You are Niall Burke and you have exercised droit de siegneur upon Skye. You love her ardently and she loves you in return. Your eyes gleam blue-green and your chest is full of black curling hair. Your "pulsing root" will conquer. You are Skye's first love, her destiny. You also love cunnilingus.

You are Dom O'Flaherty and you are Skye's first husband. You are an infamous cocksman at 18 years of age, known as The Bull. Your eyes flash sky-blue and your hair and beard are a curling gold. Your unnaturally large "monster sex" will conquer. You love your perverted sister and also three-ways.

You are the Spaniard known as Khalid el Bey, Whoremaster of Algiers. You rescued Skye and freed her from slavery. Your eyes glint amber-gold and your chest is a dark furred mat. Your "pulsing shaft" will conquer. You are Skye's second husband and you love her. You also love cunnilingus.

You are Geoffrey Southwood, her third husband. You are an infamous cocksman, referred to as the Angel Earl. Your green eyes shine bright as your blonde hair. Your "great, blue-veined beast" will conquer. Your player days are over: your lust for Skye bec0mes love. You also love cunnilingus.

You are Lord Dudley, favorite of the Virgin Queen. You are a devious dandy. Your velvet brown eyes are set too close together; your moustache is red. You like spanking and being called "Papa". You blackmail Skye into surrendering her hidden valley. You also love bestiality with village girls, yuck.

You are Adam de Marisco, master of the island Lundy. You are a giant among Irishmen: 6 ft 6 inches! Your eyes spark a sensuous smoky-blue and your body is the hairiest Skye has ever seen. You love this vengeful woman but sadly you are only her "special friend". You also love cunnilingus.

You are Niall Burke and you have at last been reunited with your forever-love. You married a nymphomaniac, but at least that's over with - and good for you, you didn't shame her for her mental health condition despite her shenanigans. Your warm eyes for some reason now glow silver and then a smoky blue, but your chest hair remains dark and your nipples remain flat. Your "manroot" will conquer. You have also been conquered - by Love! You still love cunnilingus.


You are mark monday. You really enjoyed this trashy book. You should feel guilty but honestly you don't. You love adventure and trash! You also love .
Profile Image for Meredith Holley.
Author 2 books2,212 followers
May 17, 2010
**This review contains spoilers, but don’t let that turn you away. Really, I’m doing you a favor.**

I’ve generally thought of myself as a fan of drunk writing, but Skye O’Malley is solid proof that even the best ideas can go horribly wrong. What I’m saying is that there is no way most of this book wasn’t written in a creepy, drunk, sadistic binge. Until now, I have been reluctant to label the shelf of books I hate just "burn pile" because it seems so wrong to burn any books. This book has convinced me that burning books isn’t always so bad, so time to rename the ol��� shelf.

I’ll admit that part of my problem with this book is that I read the wrong sections. It was obvious from the start that I wasn’t going to read all of the pages of the book because no book this silly, I thought, should also be this long. I had two options: either read the dialog and rape scenes, which I believed made up the essence of the “story,” or read the detailed descriptions of every stick of furniture in every house, every stitch of clothing everyone wore, and the recipes to every item of food that everyone ate in this entire book. In retrospect, I’m not positive why reading the dialogue and rape scenes sounded like a good choice. We’ve got this whole fun, silly MST3K for books thing going on here, though, (Mystery Science GoodReads 3000?) and I thought if my only contribution was that the harshness of everyone’s black velvet bodices was softened by fragments of lace, it would take the fun out of the game. That was a major tactical blunder on my part. What I didn’t realize was that if you only read the dry clothes/furniture/food descriptions, this book would just be a fashion porno, like reading Vogue without pictures or Sophia Copella’s notes from the movie Marie Antoinette. Boring, maybe, but not rage-inducing offensive. The other road leads you to a child-rape scene that I HATE SO MUCH I can’t even find words to describe this total nausea I feel from it.

People say, you know, it doesn’t matter if authors put scenes in books that so violate the reader’s brain that the readers find it necessary to reach for bleach and a syringe. I might be paraphrasing, but I think that’s the idea. The argument goes something like, authors don’t necessarily want all the stuff they fantasize about to actually happen. I have two responses to that:

1. DUH! and

2. I don’t care if they want it to happen, I care that they want me to read about it happening. (okay, I also have a third thing:

3. I’m not talking about censorship, like there should be laws about what you can and can’t write, even though there are laws about that, and I’m basically in support of those laws. I’m a big fan of the First Amendment so far. I, too, am exercising my freedom of speech by just getting really, really angry by what I see as an author’s choice to create a totally sadistic fantasy world where she could torture women and children and then her choice to release it to the public so I would one day read it. You’d think there’d be some idiot things people wouldn’t do just because they didn’t want to do them, without even needing them to be against the law.)

There are some circumstances where I can see how it is necessary to write about really horrible things – to warn about holocausts, to show the danger of blind fear, things like that. The thing that really kills me about EVERYTHING in this book is that there is NOTHING redemptive or cautionary about the violence and disregard for humanity written in to it.

Authors are the gods of their own universes. No book represents complete reality, obviously, and so I hold authors responsible for the ways they create an altered reality. Regardless of Ms. Small’s intent, I’m going to proceed with the assumption that she’d like me to believe her characters and approach her story with a certain amount of credulousness. I’m trying to convey the thing that really gets me about this book. The woman created this little girl in order to display her in this totally inhuman way, and it served absolutely no narrative purpose other than sadistic voyeurism. As a reader, suspending my disbelief, this little girl existed to me on some level. And I contend that the worst part is that Small knew what she was doing. In this scene, as in the other scenes that she intends to be rape, she describes the victims with a cold accuracy that makes my skin crawl. Then, suddenly, back to fashion porn.

So that you don’t ever feel the need to read this book, I’m going to give you a summary of its major plot-points and overall message, and highlight a couple of moments that lived up to my MSGR3K hopes. I’ll go ahead and gloss over the more ABOMINABLE parts of the story.

This is a historical account of a legendary Irish witch who had a catfight with Queen Elizabeth I over a boy that neither of them wanted to have sex with, while Elizabeth was PMSing. The moral of the story is that the more husbands and children a woman has, the happier she will be, but the more political influence a woman has the more the entire world will suffer.

The witch carries her power in two small globes. Through these globes, she manages to destroy all men who come in contact with her. Her male counterpart is a sort of Goldilocks character, always finding women too sexy or not sexy enough, until he ultimately consolidates his power with the witch. The witch is educated in Ireland in incest and fancy clothes. She sends her first husband to an early grave by breaking his back. Then, she is able to focus her energies on the family piracy business.

Unfortunately for the witch, in a moment of plot-twisting, she is taken captive by other pirates, and winds up in Algiers with a tidy case of the amnesia. Luckily for her, the local Whoremaster falls under the spell of the small globes. After the narrator tells him that intelligent women are really rare and the witch is an intelligent woman, the Whoremaster marries her and makes her his business partner. She realizes how terrific it is to own brothels, and they walk around with some panthers on leashes. (There are so many reasons why the panthers on leashes thing is awesome, and not just because of what it says about strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities in pre-Elizabethan Algiers.) The Whoremaster, too, dies from the curse of the small globes, stabbed in the night by a catty whore who thinks he’s the witch. Oops.

The witch hightails it back to England, where the small globes bewitch her a third husband, a man with Shreck-green eyes and a phenomenally long tongue. They have some odd make-out sessions, one where they fence with their tongues (p. 203), and another where “[h:]is mouth closed over hers, his tongue exploring the roof of her mouth, then flicking downward to tease at her sensitive breasts” (p. 291). Even this lizard man can��t escape the curse of the small globes, however. He contracts an X-Files type of illness, where they have to pull grey, alien mucus membranes out of his throat. His species could not survive on Earth for long. (Okay, I added the alien part, but only because it makes the story better.)

Then, there’s the consolidation of power with the Goldilocks dude, the catfight with Elizabeth, and an It’s-a-Wonderful-Life ending, where the witch tells us that having a bunch of men, who are totally your BFFs, is better than a bag of emeralds.

I haven’t touched on the swooning, matted chest hair, or the tear-away clothes everyone seems to be wearing throughout the book. It’s probably enough that you just know that they’re there, creating atmosphere. There’s really nothing left to say that hasn’t already been said by my esteemed MSGR3K colleagues. I’m only glad that I gave Pleasuring the Pirate two stars, so that I can show that I like this book LESS. Oh, also, Historical Fiction, you and I have had a rocky past, but I didn’t expect this, even from you. Don’t try sending your spies later to talk me out of this pure hatred. You and I are through.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.5k followers
Shelved as 'not-to-read'
August 11, 2015
Bad Book Is Bad, Scientists Say

A team of top researchers from the prestigious Goodreads Institute of Bodice-Ripping Studies have recently published a report concluding that a bad book is bad.

"We were very surprised when we analysed the data," said the Institute's charismatic director at yesterday's press conference.

The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)
Profile Image for Wendy,  Lady Evelyn Quince.
350 reviews144 followers
January 8, 2023

Oh, never, ever was there a lass as lovely as Skye O'Malley. With raven locks, eyes as blue-green as the Kerry sea, tiny waist, impossibly long legs for such a wee girl, perfectly pert boobies, and a fantastically elastic vagina that bounces back to its teen glory no matter how many kids she births (she must've done her Kegels), Skye is the most beautiful, most desirable, most enchanting, the bestest evar!

Any man who looks upon her nubile beauty will be inflicted with priapism, and the sole cure is a ticket of the old in and out of Skye's mossy cavern of passion. Her weeping honey-oven. Her juicy love grotto, as it were. Yup, only the most cringe, the purplest of euphemisms are here as the vintage Queen of Erotic romance, Bertrice Small, takes us across the seas and nations to experience the highs and lows, but mostly orgasmic highs, of Skye's life.

Women, be it the female pirate Grace O'Malley or the Queen of England herself, Queen Bee, are intimidated by her beauty and her fiery, passionate nature! And men... well, they all want to delve their pulsing lances into her dewy-petaled moist sheath.

Not one hero will do for our eponymous goddess of a heroine, Skye. She's too hot and needs a lot of thick hose to put out her fires! The daughter of an Irish laird/pirate named Dubhdara, Skye is secretly in love with Niall, a powerful lord's son. Alas, she is too saucy a wench and will never do for Niall. His parents connive to wed Skye to dumb Dom.
Then our hero does something that shocks everyone. On Skye's wedding night, Niall stuns the revelers when he interrupts the festivities, points his finger at Skye, and says "I claim droit de seigneur of this woman!" Which is so goofy, and like the film "Braveheart," ahistorical, but just go with it.

Afterward, Skye is left to live with Dom, who's got a giant wang, but only teases Skye with it, he never lasts long, and besides, it's incestuous hook-ups with his sister, Claire, he prefers. Occasionally, Dom brings Skye into their little dalliances, although Skye is unwilling. She bares Dom's 2 sons before he's paralyzed and then eventually dies.

Niall, in the meantime, was married off to frigid, crazed Darragh, whom he eventually casts aside. She enters a nunnery, and now he and Skye are free to marry.
Uh-uh-uh, not so fast. Our independent Skye demands to expand her father's shipping business, and wouldn't you know it, she gets shipwrecked and loses her memory. Skye ends up in Algiers to have yet another true love affair, this time with the Grand Whoremaster of Algiers, Khaled-El-Bey, because, for some reason, in Small's corner of Romancelandia, Irish-Welsh-Scottish-English women from the Middle Ages to post-Enlightenment were drawn to harems like nails to magnets (ouch, bad metaphor).
Skye becomes one of his earthly houris, but strictly for his personal use, and not only that but his top bitch, her poon so fine, even the biggest pimp in all of pimp-dom has to put a ring on it.

Niall is this time married off to a sweet Spanish girl. The innocent virgin Niall seduces and then marries turns out to be the opposite of wife #1; she's an insatiable nympho. His wife becomes a secret whore who takes on legions of men. Because even with Niall giving it to her three times a night, it's still not enough!

Yada, yada, yada, Skye gives Khaled El-Bey a daughter. Alas, he croaks due to harem machinations and jealousy. Skye, who's so awesome she can always depend on the kindness of strangers to help her out, leaves for England, although she still has amnesia.

There she is pursued by yet another true love: Geoffrey. The blond, green-eyed arrogant Lord Southwood bets that he can seduce the mysterious Skye. She spurns him, so this entices him. Skye makes Geoffrey fall madly for her and he can't take anymore. Skye acknowledges her desires and they become lovers.

Oh, and he's married. but Skye doesn't care. His wife dies, and eventually, Skye marries Geoffrey and is blissfully happy. Until her memory returns when she sees Niall almost get killed and screams out his name.

Again, they're married to different people, so they can't be together.

I hated Geoffrey and was glad when he kicked the bucket. He blamed his first wife for being unable to bear sons and threw it in her face that's why he abandoned her. His perfect Skye would have no trouble giving him sons, though. Her vag is pH balanced to accept only the most macho of y-gametes (and only a rare x-swimmer). She bears Geoffrey two boys, one of whom dies with his father during the pox.

After Geoffrey croaks, Skye is left unprotected. The wicked Queen Bess--who is totally jelly of Sky--forces the defiant Irish lass to be Her Majesty's beloved Earl of Lessessester, uh, Lord Robert Dudley's plaything.

A little bestiality is hinted at as the awful Robert uses his servants as sex slaves to be used by his friends. But not Skye. Skye, he uses abuses for his own purposes and not in a fun bodice-ripper way. Dudley rapes Skye until he's had enough of her, and she's left traumatized.

After her awful arrangement with Dudley, Skye shies away from men--no, not really. She gets involved in some shipping and smuggling with an English nobleman, Adam De Marisco.

By far and away my favorite of Skye's men was Adam who was a nice, laughing guy with a beard. Adam made sex pleasurable for Skye again--which to be fair, wasn't that difficult of a task. He was like a big teddy bear to love, with no arrogance, no baggage, just pure fun. Adam soothed Skye's hurts and gave her passion without entanglements.

Why she didn't end up with him in this book is beyond me. Happy for me, he makes a return in the sequel All the Sweet Tomorrows, and I loved what happened with him.

Anyway, remember that lusty wife Niall had? Well, now, she's near death because she's suffering from the pox. Not Niall, though. He's STD-free because that lucky dude gets to be this book's hero, so despite sex with a prostitute who did hundreds, maybe thousands, of men, it didn't make it sting when he peed. Not even a mild itching!

All things fall into place, and Niall and Skye find their way back into each other's arms. The dull, boring "hero" gets the beautiful, perfect, sexual, rich, fecund, brilliant (yeah, that last one was a stretch) Skye O'Malley.

After bearing her assorted lovers and husbands (6 if you're counting; it seems like more only because, to be fair, Skye does engage in a lot of sex) 5 children (she'll have more kids to come), her figure and her moist cavern of love, remain tiny and petite, unchanging despite age, births or time.
This book is a romp. Not meant to be taken deeply because if you do, you might experience heartbreak. I am so glad I read this book when I was well into my twenties because if I had read this as a teen, my poor little heart wouldn't have been able to take it. One woman having that many men she all truly loved and in such a short amount of time (relatively), in a romance novel!

Thankfully, with maturity comes the ability to relax and not take everything so seriously, and "Skye O'Malley" is not a book to be taken seriously. It's so bad, yet so good, yet so bad... which is the best of qualities in an old bodice ripper.

I didn't love this book, but I had a ball reading it, and that's all that matters.

4 stars for the WTFery
Profile Image for Misfit.
1,637 reviews276 followers
September 11, 2014
On the verge of marrying a man she loathes (the betrothal had been made when they were children), Skye O'Malley meets Niall Burke and it's love at first sight - but the betrothal can't be broken and Niall must make a better match than Skye. On her wedding night, Niall claims the right of droit du seigneur and gets first shot at the young virgin, enraging her husband Dom. Skye suffers mightily at the hands of her abusive husband, but by the time she's free Niall is married (unhappily) and what then follows are plentiful ups and downs from capture by pirates on the high seas, being sold into slavery (don't you worry, our heroine can charm anyone even the "whoremaster of Algiers"), and eventually ending in England in a marriage that brings her to the court of Elizabeth Tudor, but a twist in fate makes the two women enemies in the end. Can Skye win her this battle of wits with the formidable Queen of England? Will she and Niall ever have a happy ending?

Somehow I missed reading Small's books back in the 80s and when I spotted this at a free-book sale I decided to give her a whirl. Yes, I was warned that the purple prose was plentiful, rapes abounded and that the sex was OTT and I was prepared for it, but still -

"As his seed thundered into her hidden valley he shook fiercely with the intensity of his passion."

"Ahh...Skye, your little honey-oven is made for me."

Remember that honey-oven bit. Three (count 'em) three different men use this very same term when referring to Skye.

"Let me play the great desert stallion tonight, my Skye. Roll over, and be my little wild mare."

Forgot to mention, Small seems to have a horse fixation...

"A moment before his climax, he touched one hand beneath her to tweak at the little button of her sensuality and they shuddered their satisfaction in union."

*rolls eyes*

"Your little honey-oven burns my lance with the fiery flow of the passion you would like to deny me, but can't."

There's that honey-oven again. Add all this up, toss in some very abrupt POV switches from one paragraph to the next, mix with some annoying info dumps containing waaaaay more background information on secondary characters than necessary (I really didn't need to know about Geoffrey's family history all the way back to the Norman Conquest) and what is left was just not the book for me. As for the rapes? Yes, they are pretty much standard for these older books and I can live with a forced seduction or two, but what I can't live with is when the heroine is raped by the meanest, baddest, most irredeemable man on earth and we get this,

"And though she hated him, her body treacherously yielded itself."

I won't spoil, but the reader should also be warned that there is a scene towards the end involving a twelve-year-old girl and an aroused dog. If you're a die-hard fan of the old school bodice rippers with a strong stomach this might be the book for you - and it's a series so you can keep on readin' more. Any one else, I'd recommend steering clear - this is my first and last Bertrice Small book.
Profile Image for Dagmar .
193 reviews31 followers
March 4, 2022

Still going strong after 40 years this book is legendary and absolutely epic. A true bodice-ripping rollercoaster ride that is overflowing with details: love, romance, lust, pain, suffering, joy, births and deaths, multiple adventures, characters to adore and despise, staggering and jaw-dropping plot turns and twists...and dark and twisted elements. One of the most captivating and bold heroines I have every read. Should you go on this journey, prepare yourself for one sexy, intense, disturbing, unforgettable, and wild ride...buckle up😉

What a book! 💫
Profile Image for Naksed.
2,984 reviews103 followers
January 4, 2016
Skye O'Malley is perhaps the most famous of Bertrice Small's novels and as she is the Grand Dame of the old timey, non p.c., bodice-rippers, you will find here all the elements you expect, from the purple prose to the over the top swashbuckling adventures and a required trip to a harem. What will make some readers cringe however was an absolute hoot to me. I just adore Bertrice Small's style and spirit. Skye, though based on a real life Irish female pirate who lived in the Tudor era, is a Small creation through and through. What I love about her, and the majority of Small heroines, is the decidedly modern woman stuck in a restrictive historical era, who does not meekly sit by and let life happen to her but takes a great, big, bite out of it without apologies. Apart from a loltastic string of lovers and husbands (Bertrice Small very rarely does the "one and only" type of romance), the funnest part of the book for me was Skye's confrontation with Queen Elizabeth, another bombastic woman who would defy her era's conventions to rule as she saw fit, without cowtowing to any men, especially not her lovers. Simply delicious.
Profile Image for Christy.
Author 4 books386 followers
June 19, 2010
This book is really several books in one. This could easily have been a whole series of novels about Skye O’Malley—and it may have benefited by such a treatment. In light of the book’s multiplicity, then, my review will also be several reviews in one.

I. Bertrice Small is known for her purple prose; overblown descriptions of sex, clothes, and food are one of the reasons for reading her. I was looking forward to being entertained by this element of the book and I was not let down. She sets the bar high for herself from the beginning of the book, both in the physical description of Skye O’Malley (including incredible details about her appearance like this: “when she laughed she revealed small, perfect white teeth” (11)—when even something so ordinary as teeth are so precisely detailed, you know you’re really in for something) and in the description of her initial connection with Niall Burke, the hero: “They were suspended in time, their souls flowing back and forth between their bodies, twining into one perfect being” (17). I had to read that several times just to fully take in its ridiculousness.

Even better than the high-flown romantic language and extreme detail regarding characters’ appearance, though, are the constant descriptions of outfits (very thorough, including all the colors, accessories, and multiple layers) and meals (these people eat and drink far more than I thought possible; they even have ale or wine for breakfast). And then there’s the sex scenes. Here are some favorites of mine:

*“As his seed thundered into her hidden valley he shook fiercely with the intensity of his passion” (113).
*“…your little honey-oven was made for me!” (115)—interestingly, “honey oven” is used three different times throughout the book to refer to Skye’s, well, woman parts. By three different men. It was weird enough the first time, but it is beyond ridiculous to have a Spanish Algerian, an Englishman, and an Irishman who don’t even really know each other all use the same idiosyncratic name.
*“Her golden orbs grew hard as his mouth drank first from one and then from the other” (152).
*“He drove his root into her warm and fertile body” (152).
*“…the coral-red flower of womanhood wet and pouting with desire” (221).
*“Her small, full breasts, wet and warm, pushed demandingly at his chest” (233). This way of describing body parts as having some sort of intention or will both disturbs me and cracks me up.
*“She breathed deeply of his warm male scent, like a kitten licking lovingly at a kindly hand. She loved his great manroot with her tongue” (318).

Some of these are hilarious, and some of them are cringe-inducing; actually, most of them are both. In addition to these choice bits, there are multiple occasions (at least five, it seems, but I didn’t actually keep a count) upon which getting sexed up causes the woman to faint, which is usually seen as a good thing, representative of how good at teh sexing the gentleman in question is.

For sheer descriptive silliness, this book gets five stars.

II. This book has no shortage of plot. There are pirates, court intrigues, harems, panthers, snarky nuns, kidnappings, and—as has already been mentioned—lots of sex. As an (erotic) adventure novel, there’s a lot to like. The first two sections of the book are pretty entertaining and I mostly enjoyed reading them. In Part I, in particular, I was really enjoying seeing Skye rebel against her father, get the better of her abusive husband, take charge of her family’s seafaring business, and fight pirates, all in addition to eventually getting her man. Part II, in Algiers, seems like it should have been really interesting because of the exotic setting and the harems and the fact that Skye and Husband #2 have pet panthers that they walk on leashes, but because Skye suffers from amnesia here, she becomes a lot less interesting for a while, just a blank beauty to be molded and moved around as the plot demanded. Part III, with all its court intrigue, fancy parties, and pirates, is shockingly dull, however. It takes some kind of special skill to make piracy boring, but Small manages it here.

(Adventure + Court Intrigue + Sex) – (Boring Pirates + Pacing Problems + Number of Pages) = 2 stars.

III. Romance novels are tricky ground for feminist readings. On the one hand, they are books written by women and for women and so there’s all this space for woman-centered fantasy and for narratives that counter patriarchal ideas about gender roles and sex/romance. However, most romance novels (at least, most I’ve read) do not provide this counternarrative (see my reviews of The Reluctant Viking and My Fair Viking for more on this). I’m actually not entirely sure what to do with Skye O’Malley in these terms. It’s far less anti-feminist than The Reluctant Viking and it regularly includes ideas that almost seem to belong to a certain kind of feminism; at the same time, though, it also treads familiar and nonfeminist ground.

One element of Skye O’Malley that really struck me was actually something that some other reviewers have complained about quite heartily: the rape scenes. There are three rape scenes that really stand out for me. Skye’s first husband, Dom, commits incest with his sister and, when Skye walks in on them having sex, the two of them join forces to rape her; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, rapes Skye much later in the book and she does not have any recourse because he has far more political power than her and could hurt her family; and—here’s the one that really seemed to disturb people—Dudley on another occasion comes to Skye’s home while she is out, throws a party in which he brings local virgins in and rapes them. Furthermore, when Skye comes back and tries to stop the goings-on, she walks in on the scene of a twelve-year-old girl on all fours on a table, with an aroused dog behind her about to be used to rape her and then, when she tries to kick Dudley out of her home, he rapes her on the spot, in front of everyone. These scenes are all horrifying and unpleasant to read. But I actually find this heartening.

I have read far too many romance novels in which rape is presented as seduction and the rapist is not only excused but romanticized. The message in those books is clearly that women who say no really mean yes and that it is the man’s job to show her that she really does mean yes. Bertrice Small challenges that by showing rape as traumatic and rapists as bad people. After being raped by her first husband and his sister, Skye is traumatized and takes a good long time to recover enough to be willing to be touched even by the man she loves. The aftereffects of this rape follow her even to Algiers, even though she cannot remember exactly what has happened to her. Even better, her rapist is punished within the narrative. He is injured and disempowered and dies not long afterward; the sister is disgraced and also disempowered. The later rape scenes are similar in that they are representations of how despicable the rapist is and they motivate Skye to seek and gain revenge on the Queen, who has allowed this to go on. The attempted rape of a child with a dog has gotten a lot of attention in recent conversations, but I think that the fact that this is framed as horrific within the text and that it does not actually occur and isn't actually described is significant. It would be far more troubling if the rape actually took place in part because the description of the event could be its own perverse titillation for the reader. Refusing to go through with it, refusing to represent the actual deed, refuses the reader this Marquis de Sade-type entertainment.

The other major thread of this narrative has to do with Skye’s independence. From the very beginning of the novel, she is strong-willed and feisty, willing to fight for what she wants and mostly successful. She proves herself to be intelligent and capable over and over throughout the novel—she is a good businesswoman (in Ireland, Algiers, and England), she masters political maneuvering, she bests the Queen at her own game (with some help from her friends), and she manages to build and maintain quite a fortune for herself and her children. Even with all this, though, it is apparently too much to let her take care of herself. In the end, she must be rescued and married off and then told to calm down. Niall, her fourth husband, tells her that her adventuring days are over: “I will give you your head in many things, but not in all matters, Skye. You are too headstrong for your own good” (457). And so, tamed, she goes back home with her husband. After all the work she has put into building her own life throughout the book—without this man telling her what to do or not do—to see her back down and be mastered in this way rankles.

Last thought on this topic (though there’s much, much more that could be said about it, I’m sure): I know that other reviewers have argued that all of the sex in this book is problematic (Ceridwen's review is a great example of this), but I am going to have to disagree. Sort of. All the sex in the book is problematic. But not all of the sex in the book is rape. Skye O’Malley lives in a world that does not allow her—or any woman—to direct her own life. (Even the Queen of England can’t direct her own life.) In this world, therefore, Skye can never make a choice that is not truly and absolutely hers because it can always be overridden by someone else—her husband, her uncle, her father, the Queen, or just any man who is stronger than her. This is definitely a problem and it informs all of her relationships with other people, sexual or not. But I maintain that there are pockets of resistance to this in the relationships she develops with some men. Just because others have the power to disregard her choices doesn’t make her consent (when it occurs) irrelevant. When Niall Burke comes to her on her wedding night to Dom and sleeps with her, he does so not just because he wants her but because she wants him (and she has made that desire clear). When she gets involved with Khalid, he would have had her anyway, but he didn’t have to force her to do anything at all because she wanted him. Before she fell in love with Geoffrey Southwood, she slept with him because she was attracted to him and because she could benefit from their liaison. And when she and Niall were finally married, what brought them together was her invitation to him to come to her bed. I would not call any of these instances rape. They are wrapped up in troubling power relations because the whole of the world was wrapped up in these power relations. They were inescapable. Skye knows this; she understands the facts of her life and, though she may wish things were otherwise, she can either choose to work within that system and, as she does so, find love and fulfillment and pleasure or she can choose to remove herself from it—become a nun, like her sister, or take her chances protecting herself. Bertrice Small, in this way, recognizes and even critiques the bind that a sexist and patriarchal society places women in while also complicating the idea promoted by some second-wave feminists (e.g., Andrea Dworkin) that all sex is rape. Even in a truly fucked-up world, she says, there is room for love and desire.

IV. Here’s where things get weird. As I was reading, I became sort of obsessed with the descriptions of characters’ eyes. Skye herself has blue eyes, but they don’t stay the same blue. In fact, they can change color quite rapidly, as her moods change: “…her eyes, which had been a deep purple-blue, lightened to a clear blue-green” (81). Niall has silver eyes, Constanza has purple eyes (“pansy-purple,” to be specific), Geoffrey has lime-green eyes, Willow (Skye’s first daughter) has “golden lion eyes” (307), Adam has “sensuous smokey blue” eyes (373), and Queen Elizabeth has “jet-black eyes” (365). (Very few characters have brown eyes and, interestingly, the ones who do are mostly either kind of uninteresting, mean, or stupid. For instance, one peasant girl is described as having “bovine brown eyes” (232) and Dudley (who is, seriously, the worst person in the book) has brown eyes. I started to wonder if Bertrice Small has something against people with brown eyes.) Clearly, there is something going on with the eyes in this book. People’s eyes simply do not change color and I have never seen anyone with either lime-green, silver, jet-black, or pansy-purple eyes.

What if, I began to wonder, this could be read as taking place in a sort of alternate universe where human evolution took a different track, where people evolved these strange eye colors and color-changing abilities? That would explain the eye weirdness. What else might it explain?

Skye’s ability to be gorgeous and thin with perky breasts after having five or six children (it’s hard to keep track since they’re pretty much never around) might be explained by this hypothesis. Perhaps humans evolved for greater physical resilience and unnatural beauty.

Another thing that could potentially have evolved alongside these traits is the ability to change the size of specific body parts. Sexy body parts, in particular. On at least one occasion, Skye’s breasts seem to change size over the course of just a couple of pages. Although they are usually “small impudent breasts” (292), for special occasions she may inflate them to “very full breasts” (294). Similarly, while early in the book it is made clear (thanks to Skye’s opportunities to compare the two) that Dom’s penis is much larger than Niall’s (“Niall had been a big man, but Skye’s husband [Dom:] was unnaturally large, enormous” [49:]), later, when Claire (Dom’s sister, who also had a chance to compare) sleeps with Niall, she reports that his penis is much larger than Dom’s (“He was even bigger than Dom had been” [289:]). Clearly, these men are able to adjust their penis sizes as they go through life or perhaps just on a whim. And given the number of giant penises Skye encounters throughout the book and their increasing size, one begins to suspect that all men are involved in a kind of Cold War of one-upmanship regarding penis-size.

And once I began reading the book with this science fictional reading in my mind, it became difficult to avoid. Reading science fiction requires a different set of reading protocols, primary among these protocols the necessity of reading metaphor literally (Samuel Delany famously writes that the phrase "Then her world exploded" in SF "must retain the margin to read these words as meaning that a planet, belonging to a woman, blew up"). Applying that technique to a romance novel filled with the purplest of pansy-purple prose is its own form of entertainment. Suddenly this—“his lips devoured her throat, setting her pulse to racing” (258)—is sinister instead of sexy; this—“…his aching manhood burst and flooded her with his burning tribute” (330)—is horrific instead of hot; and this—“He raised her carefully and then lowered her, slowly impaling her inch by sweet inch onto his lance” (458)—is, well, it’s still icky, but perhaps in a different way.

Unfortunately, reading Skye O’Malley as science fiction doesn’t really get you very far, but it’s an interesting trip while it lasts.

V. Overall, I actually enjoyed reading parts of this book but grew terribly bored in other parts. Some scenes were unpleasant, but they didn't truly horrify me. And the writing is neither terrible nor great; in fact, sometimes it's quite entertaining. Basically, it all averages out for me. If the third section were less drawn out or as thrilling as it seems like it should be, I could easily give this three stars. As it is, though, I'm leaning toward two stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Crystal's Bookish Life.
758 reviews1,289 followers
December 30, 2021
Full thoughts will be in my next vlog 12/29

Can't quite decide between a 3 or 4 star. This book has every TW you can think of. It's a bodice ripper for sure. But I can't stop thinking about it.
April 12, 2021
I think I have to admit this now. I love Bertrice Small's books. Sure, they can never be a 5 stars because I can't even rate her books with the same spectrum of ratings like my normal historical romance books.

No, that would mess up my rating board. Because truly, I cannot explain what her books are doing to me. It left me drained, flushed and mad. Mad because no matter how I hate the progression of story, there's also something liberating about them. Gahhh, it drives me nuts.

As for this book, I gotta say, a typical Small's book. What I don't expect was how much I would love Geoffrey, much more than the endgame hero. I thought he would the antagonist like Dudley. I wish I could take him out from this book and put him in a normal HR. He would very much be a very good antihero, in my opinion.

All I can say is, this is not the end. This is a long series and man, I'm going to have so much fun with the O'Malleys.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,478 reviews941 followers
August 20, 2012

This is my first 1 star rating in 2012, but I have to confess I knew what to expect and still picked up the book for a summer read. The impulse came from a couple of very funny reviews (Ceridwen's in particular) and general fun some members seem to have had recently with sexually charged books (Fifty Shades, The Virgin Proxy). Or I might as well admit I was feeling randy and needed an excuse to check out a bodice-ripper.

I was actually going to give Skye three stars after the first couple of hundred pages, as the reviews are correct: the book is so poorly written it's actually funny to read, like a bad horror movie that wants to be scary but turns out into a parody of itself. I can't absorb with a straight face a passage like this:
Shyly she raised her blue eyes to his silvery gray ones, and for a moment Skye felt as if she were drowning. She realized he felt it too! Neither could tear their gaze away. They were suspended in time, their souls flowing back and forth between their bodies, twining into one perfect being.

It helps to know that the above passage refers to our heroine doing the horizontal dance, something she is engaged in from start to finish on the principle "not one chapter without rapture" , preferably multiple raptures with multiple partners. I would have enjoyed the steaming scenes more if they were written with a funny, tongue-in-cheek intent, but that's not the case. Too many of them involve actual rape and brutality, and the supossedly independent minded and strong willed heroine meekly submitting to the male dominance. The 'bodice-ripper' is actually the most correct description of this kind of book, along with Elizabethan "soap-opera". Even these scenes wouldn't have turned me off so badly if it weren't for the bloated, endless descriptions of clothes, jewelry, foodstuffs, furniture that make up more than a third of the text. Add to this the bad habit of telling the same plot point two or three times with almost exactly the same words, as if the reader was too thick headed to get it the first time it was presented.

Skye O'Malley is the perfect example of a Mary Sue character, a serious contender for the top position against Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon. She is so beautiful she is simply iressistible to all the males she encounters, she speaks several languages, wields a sword when fighting pirates, controls her business empire, has perfect taste in clothes, jewelry and cuisine. Her breasts remain flawless even after several childbirth, her skin tone impecably smooth and pale, her hair glossy and full, her siluette slim without dieting for a single page. The only thing she seems incapable of is saying no when assaulted by sultry men with gigantic "manroots".

The plot would be interesting and adventurous if you could trim the bloated descriptions : An Irish maid at the start of the Elizabethan Age, gets into an unfortunate arranged marriage, then inherits her father fleet, gets kidnapped by pirates and lands in an Algiers brothel, later comes to London and to an English country manor. In her journey he gathers four husbands, and being a good Catholic girl has six children and not one divorce. Getting rid of unwanted husbands was one the most convenient plot devices the author abused in this here book. Too bad that for me the plot was stolen almost word for word from a French series that I actually enjoyed : Angelique.

I don't actually hate the genre, like I said : the book had its funny, if unintended, moments. Nevertheless, I don't think I will continue to read the other Skye O'Malley books, and I would recommend instead the above mentioned Angelique - Marquise des Anges books. And for some really wicked sense of humor and steamy scenes, my own guilty pleasure: Jilly Cooper
6 reviews2 followers
April 20, 2010
I loved this book! Very fast paced, exciting tale. I laughed and cried, loved and hated right along with Skye. Great escape reading. The author pulls you right into Skye's world and keeps you wanting more.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,001 reviews58.9k followers
August 21, 2015
Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small is a 1981 publication. I checked this book out from my Overdrive library account.

I recently read a novel by this author in which Skye's granddaughter was featured, which prompted me to go back and check out the original O'Malley saga.

Written way back in 1981, I was sure this book would be quite different and I was right. Not only that Bertrice Small wrote historical romance novels that were way ahead of their time and not at all like anything else being published in the early 80's and certainly not like anything being published today.

Skye O'Malley's reputation preceded her and I was geared up for adventure, a torrid saga, intrigue, heartbreak and triumph. And that is exactly what is portrayed here. But, the story was uneven, with Skye bouncing around from man to man, some cruel, some erotic, and one who really does love her.

Love at first sight is now out of fashion, but back in the time period this book was written in, it was not unheard of for two people to instantly lock eyes and have their libidos take over, meaning a marriage would have to take place. Sadly, for Skye when she meets the love of her life she is betrothed to another man, one she despises. So, she is initially denied her happy ever after and will go through all sorts of adventures and trials, marriages, births, and drama and will even trigger the wrath of Bess Tudor.

The saga will continue on through several more books, and I have the second one checked out already. However, I do hope the series gets better, because while I knew what to expect before I dove in with this one, I thought it was just a little too much in the drama department.

Skye was a strong heroine, especially for the time frame in which the book was written. She was smart, had a good head for business, did her best to fight male domination in her life and find her way back to the love of her life.

The realistic portrayal of how women were treated in the 1600's makes for some uncomfortable reading at times, so if you are not a person who grew up reading bodice rippers, and you don't know what to expect from them, this book is probably not for you.

It can be harsh, but I think it was probably right on track with how things were really were. However, the modern reader may not be able to understand that, and most seem to prefer reality be left out of the equation these days.

While this fist book was not as strong an outing as I had hoped, I will at least read the second book and see if things improve.

3 stars
Profile Image for Sonia N..
679 reviews50 followers
November 26, 2021
I read this book many years ago. I instantly fell in love with Bertrice Small. To this day I have not ever read a sensual Historical Romance like hers.
Skye O'Malley, is a beautiful Irish heroine!! She is cossetted by her father and he takes her as a child on his ship. She is bethrothed young to a man she does not love. Her father and step-mother invite Niall to dinner and it's love at first sight, her step-mother noticed it. Niall claims Skye's droit de seignor/her virginity. Their special night starts the beginning of an intense and incredibly beautiful story of true love, suffering, courage, independent, perseverance, and so much intrigue.
What I love so much about the beloved Bertrice Small is how she always adds history into her books story line. She writes with attention to details for everyone and everything in her books. This story is so intense, so much passion, endurance, and emotional for me. I found myself wanting to be Skye O'Malley! I loved this book, it's a beautiful long and captivating story line.
Profile Image for Anna.
430 reviews46 followers
January 10, 2015
This started out as a fun trashy romp with wild plots and hilariously bad sex scenes, but somewhere along the way it crossed the line into repetitive tedium - just how many taut little nipples, pulsating manroots, orgasmic faints and obligingly dead husbands can you get? Shame, as I would have rated the original trashiness an amused 4 stars, particularly for those manroots; I've read a lot of tat in my time and they have to be the best/worst ever. Genius.
Profile Image for Karen.
19 reviews
September 23, 2011
If you're going to read this book comparing it to another genre, say classical literature, then of course you are going to hate it! But if you see if for what it is, a total escapist fantasy, then it is quite possible that like me, you will love the fictional heroine Skye O'Malley. It is Skye I named my email address for because I like to identify with her strength, her courage, her indomitable spirit, her independence, her imagination, and intelligence. There is no woman living or dead who can compare to Skye because she is a work of fiction! I personally think Beatrice Small has never created another heroine to compare to Skye. If you only read one of her books, then this would be it.
Profile Image for Ruby.
268 reviews9 followers
May 13, 2012
this has been one of my all-time favorites for years. fun, romantic, hot, sad, shocking, all of the above in one story.

i love Bertrice's version of Elizabeth too (well except for a certain VERY horrid thing Elizabeth does to Skye that pisses her off and fires Skye's need for revenge...no spoilers here!). and having enjoyed the movie Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett, when i see the scenes in my head, i see Cate across from Skye. and Sir Richard Attenborough as Cecil, who really wasn't done justice in that movie. (but that's another subject ;)

my recommendation: just read it.
Profile Image for Courtney.
57 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2023
Typically when I review a bodice-ripper I like to start my review with a CW list if applicable, just so everyone knows what they're getting into, but for a book like this I don't think it would be possible to list everything I found questionable. Bertrice Small was out here collecting CWs like they're Pokémon. Suffice to say, this book would never be published today. Make of that what you will. Personally, I enjoyed it and found it highly entertaining - but then again I enjoy trash.

This is the story of Skye O'Malley, the most perfect woman on Earth who also happens to have the most perfect breasts ever in the history of mankind, who basically goes on a sex adventure around the British Isles and Europe. Starting in 1555 when Skye is but 15, this story follows her from her home in Ireland, to a harem in Algiers, and even into the court of Elizabeth I as Skye essentially collects husbands, lovers, and children. It's also the story of Skye's star-crossed lover, Niall Burke, but even though they are obviously the endgame couple from the moment they meet, Bertrice Small clearly has little interest in their relationship and neither did I.

This book was nothing if not entertaining. It was the literary equivalent of the way that I play the Sims - just creating completely outlandish and trashy storylines and then reveling in the chaos that ensues. This was like Game of Thrones if it was a daytime soap from the 80s. If you like vintage bodice rippers with plots that border on ridiculous, I definitely think you'll find this book as fun to read as I did.

In terms of characters, Skye O'Malley herself is so perfect that she is basically a non-character, just a perfect blank slate that I, as a reader, could project myself onto. What if I was an inconceivably rich and beautiful woman with perfect breasts going on a sex adventure throughout 1500s Europe? I wondered as I read while sitting hunched over like a goblin eating chocolate chips straight out of the bag and wearing sweatpants. Niall Burke was sort of just a sad sack and not really a hero I could root for, although he did have a couple of moments were I felt genuine sympathy for him. But as I said earlier, it didn't even seem like Bertrice Small herself was interested in this relationship so I'm confused why this was the main romance for the story. Skye had multiple other partners that I liked more than Niall.

The story moves at an incredibly fast pace. The book is more of a bodice-ripper erotica than a historical romance, and there were many times I thought you could feel the author's impatience to get to the next sex scene and rush through the "boring" stuff in between. The sex scenes were not particularly good either, as I thought most of them were going for a "shock" factor that I wasn't into, although I did get a kick out of the cheesy euphemisms - "honey oven" is now a permanent part of my vernacular. That said, I really enjoyed the portions of the story that took place in Ireland and Algiers. My interest waned a little bit when the storyline brought Skye to England, and I wasn't as dazzled by the inclusion of Elizabeth I and her courtiers as the story clearly intended me to be - but I think that's just my own personal fatigue of England-based HRs and I need to cleanse my palette with some other time periods and locations.

I'm glad I read this because I got such a kick out of it. I wasn't planning to continue the series but now that I'm reading some spoilers for the next book, All the Sweet Tomorrows, I am intrigued 👀
Profile Image for Regan Walker.
Author 30 books754 followers
April 14, 2015
This story is classic Bertrice Small. Set in Ireland, Algiers and London in the mid 16th century, it is the first in the O’Malley series, and tells of the Irish noble families and the loves of an amazing heroine. Though her wealthy Irish sea captain father, famous for his merchant piracy, had 6 daughters, the O’Malley had only one like himself: strong and intelligent in business—and in her case, also beautiful. When she is 15, though betrothed to another man (a man she hates), Skye O’Malley falls in love with the dashing Niall Burke, heir to the MacWilliam, the O’Malley’s overlord. But their families deny them the marriage they want. Instead, Skye is wed to the brutal, lecherous man she was betrothed to, and Niall is wed to a highborn woman who would prefer to be a nun. It will be years before they can get together.

You know, if you’ve read Bertrice Small before, her romances are…well, let’s just say, unusual. Perhaps they are more realistic of life in the times, but one should be aware. Typically, there is not just one couple nor is the heroine with just one “hero.” So, be prepared if you pick up this one. To be sure it’s a good story and will hold you captive as the scene moves from Ireland to Algiers and then to England; but what happens can be disconcerting at times. For example, using the vehicle of amnesia, at one point Small has the heroine forgetting who she is and adopting a lifestyle that is inconsistent with who she is and her life in Ireland. There were other instances where I lost my admiration for the heroine but in the end she triumphs and so does Niall, though for a long while, he had one piece of bad luck after another. The whole thing was a bit far-fetched, but it was well done. Small’s descriptions of people, places and even dress and food really put you in the scene and make you feel like you are there. And the real life characters of young Queen Elizabeth’s court, including Elizabeth, were very believable.

Should you want to read more in the series, here’s the list:

The O'Malley Saga:


Skye’s Legacy:


Profile Image for daemyra, the realm's delight.
855 reviews38 followers
September 20, 2018
One of the most enjoyable aspects about Bertrice Small's Skye O’Malley is how the heroine, Skye, has more than one romantic partner and falls in love with more than one romantic partner, without hand-wringing. Also, the detail in dress and fashion. That was utterly fascinating.

On the flip side to free love, does anyone else wish Geoffrey Southwood didn't die? Or that Niall was a tad more interesting? I was really rooting for Niall. He makes a great first impression but .. hello Geoffrey.


Read this for the outlandishly graphic tale that it is rather than for the romance. Skye's reunion with Niall is not the result of fireworks but rather a rational decision on her part to let bygones be bygones, woo but also boo. While Skye O'Malley is fiendish smut, Small's writing style can be mechanical in sensual descriptions and her strict pacing of the story that moves Skye from isolated, rugged Ireland to a whorehouse of Algiers to the court of Queen Elizabeth, show just how tightly controlled are the puppet strings pulling Skye's fate along. There doesn't seem to be any discovery to the story for the reader. At the same time, this atmosphere of simple character motivations and far-fetched plots also lent a folkloric air, particularly when it came to the Book Lady's fate. Skye O'Malley is a worthwhile introduction to Small's works. Not sure if she's for me but I'm interested enough to read another of her books to find out.
Profile Image for T from Istria 💛💚.
340 reviews6 followers
July 1, 2021
Update July 2021: at long last I finished my first and last Bertice Small romance (audio version with great narration by Justine Eyre). It was not enjoyable, predictable and at times it was disgusting. The end.

May 2021: Well that didn’t go well. I was in the mood for a bodice ripper and decided to try my first Bertrice Small. 2hr (out of 22h) in and I don’t think I can do this, it’s just too stressful.
Must take a break, maybe forever.
Profile Image for Kit★.
760 reviews52 followers
December 1, 2011
Add this to my list of Bertrice Small books I liked. Whatever, call me strange, or, as I've seen in some other reviews, a "disgrace to my gender", but I liked this book. Pure escape from the humdrum of my boring life. I'm not condoning rape, I don't want real women to get raped, and I hate that it happens for real. I don't want myself to be raped either. My opinions on what's acceptable in real life are different than what's acceptable for my reading purposes, and I'm comfortable with my stance on that.. So, anywho-ha... Yea. I found this book to be entertaining and an excellent diversion to keep me sane on a trip to visit the in-law side of the family for a week. We've got our heroine, Skye O'Malley. Of course in typical romance style, she's small and beautiful and perfect and tiny and slender and small and yea, that part got annoying. But aside from that she didn't drive me too crazy. She went through a lot of crap, and still was a decent character. So I kinda liked her. Granted, I was rolling my eyes a bit throughout at how easily everyone with a wienie fell in love, lust, and everything in between with Skye, but it was sort of the silliness of it all that entertained me so much. Like omg how much is this girl gonna go through? She starts off as the spoiled favorite daughter of an Irish clan leader cum pirate or something like that. Despite being papa's favorite, he ignores her protests and marries her off to the heir of another clan. Too bad she doesn't like the creep. She's in love with Niall, heir to a higher ranking leader guy, and he's in love with her too! He tries to interrupt the wedding but is too late, so as consolation he claims his right to the bride's virginity as the higher-ranking man. They enjoy a great night together, and make plans to ditch her husband and wed themselves. Skye's father puts the kibosh on that though, and splits the happy couple up. Off she goes to start her new life as a wife to a man she hates. He's a big raping jerk, and abuses her and her maid, and even his peasants. She puts up with it though, duty and all don'tcha know. Soon she has a son, Liam I think, and within 10 months, a second son, Murrough. She puts a pause to their bedroom relations, and after some time passes, she begins to wonder why her husband hasn't been trying to get back in her bed. Then one day she finds him in a quite unsavory and compromising position with his very own sister! Oh my! She tries to flee but they notice her and pounce. They both have their twisted way with her. Finally she makes a run for it, and her husband falls down the stairs in his pursuit of her, and winds up paralyzed. Skye takes her sons and leaves his sister to care for him, signing off on any responsibility to him in light of his perversions. It's not long before his condition worsens and he dies, leaving Skye a widow. Then after that, her father dies, leaving her in charge of the O'Malley clan. Soon the misunderstanding between her and Niall is cleared up and they're making plans to finally wed and live happily ever after. But first they've gotta go on a trip, on a ship. Sadly they're accosted by pirates, a fight ensues, and Niall is injured and Skye is taken captive. When she comes to, she has no memory of anything aside from knowing her name is Skye. Thankfully she was purchased by a kind man who intends to turn her into the most famous whore in the land. His head slave woman is in charge of training Skye, and it's soon apparent she's jealous of the newcomer. The master, Khalid, has fallen in instant love/lust with Skye, and soon can't bear to make her a whore, so he asks her to marry him instead. She agrees, they have all kinds of hot lovins, and eventually she comes to love him in return. They have a good relationship, and Skye really blossoms with Khalid. He encourages her smarts and expands on her already way-too-good-for-a-woman-back-then education. Soon she is expecting their first child and Khalid and his best friend Cap'n Robert Small are both ecstatic. However, the happy bubble is not to last, as there is another man who can't keep Skye from his thoughts. He's one of the rapey sort, and he wants her and has to have her. He uses the jealous slave woman as his pawn and a tragedy is unavoidable. Khalid is murdered, and Skye is forced to flee to England with Cap'n Small, but not before she uses her smarts and sells off Khalid's properties and holdings, making herself an extremely rich woman. Now in England, Skye takes up residence with Small's sister, and has her baby, a daughter she names Willow. It's not long before Skye's in action again, heading to London to try and acquire papers for a shipping expedition she's financing for Cap'n Small. She's not even in London an hour before men are slavering on themselves over her. Most notably Geoffrey the incredibly handsome Angel Earl of Lynwood or sumat like that. At first he's a jerk, and I was figuring he was gonna be one of those pillaging her body types. But time passes and his persistent wooing and gentlemanly behavior (well for the most part) wins her over, and soon they're in lurv, though there were a few moments where it was touch and go. She's reluctant to love again because she was so badly crushed by Khalid's death, and she wants to remain independent. Through Geoffrey she is introduced to Queen Elizabeth, who is the necessary person to talk to in order to obtain the charters Skye and Small want. The two "fiery" and independent women hit it off and become friends, which is considered here to be unusual since Elizabeth wasn't overly fond of other women. I sort of liked how Elizabeth was portrayed in this book. She was a fantastic bitch, but was smart and sly, and reminded me of her father Henry VIII, or at least the way I've read about him being portrayed in fiction or seen in movies/tv. She was one of those kinds of characters I like to get mad at. However, her devotion to Dudley was sometimes annoying. I know it was a big part of the plot in places, but still, it made me annoyed. Even more so when Dudley made his appearances. Oh man, his character in this book, oh man. I wanted to punch him in the throat, kick him in the nads, stomp on his little fairy foot, poke him in his beady eye. ARG!! Primitive rage when he was around! Now, I have no idea what the guy was like in real life. Heck, I dunno what Elizabeth or Henry VIII were like either. But these fictionalized versions were well-done in the purpose they were for, as the villains. I felt my anger and frustration and hatred toward them, they made me root for Skye more than I would of with a weaker villain messin' with her. So, yea, off track, but that's how it goes with me sometimes. So, hmm, Geoffrey's unloved wife and a couple of his "plain and stupid" daughters die off, conveniently leaving only the little and cute daughters, and now he is free to marry Skye. Good thing, because fertile myrtle over there in her little independent townhouse is pregnant with his baby, and good and moral Queen Elizabeth would not be happy to find out Geoffrey had been messing around on his wife, or that Skye was such a hussy. They wed quickly, though sparing no pomp and and celebration. The couple are nice and happy, sweet good little family when their son Robin is born. Everything is great for awhile, Geoffrey's three girls get along great with Willow and everyone loves little Robin, it's good times for a bit. The only problem is ol' Dudley wantin' his self a piece of Skye's behind. He tries to force her in an alcove at a holiday party she and Geoffrey are hosting, while Elizabeth is in attendance, but she fends him off this time. Soon ol' Skye is pregnant again, and has another son, John. Meanwhile, ahh, meanwhile I forgot to mention Niall has gone mad with grief over losing Skye. He's nursed back to health by a girl on Mallorca, and after he heals and time passes and he comes to accept Skye is dead, he decides to marry Constanza. After all he needs an heir. They wed and their sex life is great. They travel to London, I forget why, but they do. Niall meets Skye, and can't believe his eyes, it has to be his love! But no, Skye died, so this must be some woman who looks exactly like her and coincidentally has the same name. After all, she doesn't seem to know him or recognize him at all. He ends up telling Geoffrey of his suspicions of who she really is. All this while, Constanza has become quite the little hoochy, a sex fiend, one of those sick in the head kind who can never get enough. She's been foolin' around all over town, and even wears a mask and works at a brothel as a special attraction when she can. At a party where the queen and everyone who anyone is in attendance, one of Constanza's lovers unmasks her as the sex fiend she is, bringing shame on her and Niall. He fights a duel with her accuser and when he gets a cut, all of Skye's memories come flooding back. Seems she lost her memory when she thought he was dead, and seeing him injured again brought it all rushing back. Ok. So she still loves Geoffrey though, and Niall kind of acts like a jerk, and so she's mad at him. Alas, we've been too long without something bad happening, and so it's time. Sickness comes down in the happy family, and when it leaves, it takes baby John and dear Geoffrey with it. Skye is heartbroken all over again, but this time she has to stay strong for the children. She had had her sons from Ireland brought down to her after she regained her memory, so now she's a widow with 3 stepdaughters, and 4 children of her own to care for. She can't leave England since Robin is now the Earl of Lynwood, a position slimy Dudley is all too ready to take advantage of. His buddy the queen gives him guardianship of Robin, and sensing trouble, Skye sends the other children away, Liam, Murrough, and the 2 stepdaughters their age get betrothed to each other and sent to the O'Malleys in Ireland, the younger stepdaughter gets betrothed to a boy who is a good match here in England, and sent to live with his family, and Willow is sent to Cap'n Small and his sister. Dudley arrives under the guise of "checking on his young ward", and it's only a short while before he's forcing himself on Skye. He's a freakin' bastard, man, so many times I wanted to claw his eyes out, just seriously climb inside the book myself and just beat the living crap out of him until he's on the floor twitching like a bug. Skye tries to fend him off, but just can't because of his position of power as the queen's favorite and loved one. She goes to the queen to tell her of Dudley's atrocities, but the queen pretty much says, yea, I told him he could go ahead and do whatever to you, since I'm the queen I can't sleep with him and I can't marry him either, so you satisfy his lusts. Skye vows her revenge, and I liked her way of going about it. She gathers her O'Malley fleet on the isle of Lundy, and also gains another lover in the process, Adam deMarisco. The plan is to pirate all the ships Elizabeth is counting on to fill her coffers. They're very successful, and even give some of the booty to charity. Dudley commits some more atrocities, one event in particular being extra horrendous, and I won't deign to go into it. Suffice to say it was really awful, and made me want to kill him even more. So, after that, everyone convinces her she needs to marry again to protect herself and her peasants and home, so she reluctantly agrees, but her uncle marries her by proxy to Niall, telling him she wants it. So when he arrives to her house, she's super pissed. They fight for awhile, but eventually start to get along and fall in love again, and, yep, you guessed it, she gets pregnant again. But wait! Queen Elizabeth suspects Skye of being behind the piracy. So she locks her up in the Tower of London, but not without luxuries. Skye gets to take comfy furniture and supplies, and her maid, and her sister the nun even comes to help. The queen has a committee (including Dudley) try to break Skye's confidence, get her to confess, but she stands strong. She's in there so long she has her baby in there, a daughter she names Deirdre. Thankfully Adam and Small come up with a plan to save Skye, and it works through good luck. She is released, and they ride off into the future. I want the next book to see what's going to happen next in Skye's life. I'm not real used to the story not being ended by the end of the book, at least where romance is concerned, so I'm pretty well interested in continuing this saga. My copy's all beat up, another Goodwill find, but I'm glad I found it, it was just the kind of read I was wanting at the time I read it :)
Profile Image for Patrick.
25 reviews4 followers
February 18, 2010
This book is a great read with a wonderful, memorable,steadfast,yet beautiful heroine. She is Scarlett O'Hara multiplied by 100. And Bertrice Small is meticulous in her historical depictions and accuracy,down to the last sewn on gemstone. Though the ride down O'Malley Saga lane, was well written and fun, by the third installment you think you are reading about Wonder Woman, or some other female superhero. Let's face it, with the filth,body stench,lice,and disease at the times these stories took place, no woman could have gone through so many tortures, rapes, gang-rapes,(which some concoction always seems to easy the pain of and make it more pleasurable),nearly starving,delivering children by many men, in the most unhealthy of circumstances, and still survive to brag about it, and have a lineage. I think that in the beginning, miss Small's talents were new and exciting, and very erotic, but as time goes on, the stories start to sound familiar,the plots of raging lustful torture, repetitive to say the least, and the outcome almost assured. If you've read her more modern contemporary fiction, she has dabbled in, I felt like I was reading the porn novels I use to hide under my mattress as a teenager. Not what I would expect from an accomplished writer of her calibur. She needs to meet herself halfway between the past and the present and take all Viagra and other sexual stimulants away from her characters and give them a dose of salt peter. Trust me, the love would still abound, but wouldn't leave such a rude taste on the tongue. With characters leaving us nothing to the imagination and getting too much, remember the saying, " always leave them wanting more."
606 reviews16 followers
April 13, 2010
Reading for the Bodice Rippers. I've only got to page 12 and already it's heavy-going. Sigh...

But on the plus side, I like comedy. I can imagine the Carry On gang doing this dialogue.
"Niall an iarain, Niall of the Iron," she said softly. This was a famous man, the secret dream lover of half the maidens in Ireland.
"I see my reputation precedes me, my lady Skye."
"It is an open secret that you are Captain Revenge, and that you conduct those daring raids against the English who live in the Dublin Pale. Of course, no one would dare accuse you of this."
"Yet you, my lady, do not fear me," he murmured, holding her fast with his gaze until she blushed.

Here's an early description of our hero.
Intelligent, Niall was educated first by the priests and then sent to England for polish at Cambridge. In sports, there was no one to touch him, and because he could not be bested in any field, he was called Ironman.
He could run faster than any man in Ireland, was unbeaten in wrestling from the time he was twelve, was both an excellent swordsman and an excellent falconer. He swam as though born to water, rode like a centaur, and could follow a stag's trail better than most hounds.


Of course he's also lusty, a sixteenth century Irish love machine. He's probably also kind to children and dumb animals. And none of this is meant to be ironic!! Smalls means us to take this all very seriously.

No thank you, Ms Smalls. I'm finished. In Trinidad we'd say, 'I fire the work!'
Profile Image for Shellie.
207 reviews7 followers
March 27, 2021
4 stars. March is Irish month on Regan Walker’s Historical Romance Review blog. So I felt Skye O. was a good choice to read. This was a good book, although I’m not sure i’ll be continuing the series as it seems like it’s going to just be more of the same of what went on in book one? This one was enough. I own many more books by B. Small, Adora, Hellion, Enchantress Mine, Love Slave and some of The Boarder series etc. and I hope some of them are a little better or different than Skye’s story. I see there are mixed reviews on Syke O. and some of the others I have have higher ratings so we shall see.
6 reviews1 follower
September 13, 2009
I make no apologies for loving this book. As far as girlie romances go-- (which I only read if they are very, very good) this one is a great read and doesn't leave you feeling like you left your intellect on page two. It's also a great adventure story--the heroine is strong willed, spirited and actually intelligent with a sauciness that may seem contrived until you remember that this book was written decades ago and has probably been copied ad infinitum. It's equally as good as Outlander, if not better.
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews837 followers
April 3, 2012
Long book. I couldn’t get excited about it. Stories about a series of men in a beautiful woman’s life.

At times I wanted it to be over which is my definition for 2 stars. Skye is so beautiful that almost any man near her will fall in love or be so in lust that he will kidnap, rape, or whatever it takes to have her. She has guts and intelligence, but most of the things that happen are due to her beauty rather than skills. I would have liked more interesting actions on her part. Bad things happen “due to the worst luck” – over and over again. She has a series of men in her life: lovers, husbands, close friends, and rapists – over a ten-year period and in different locations. This book tells the story of each one. I was frustrated because although she truly loved some of these men, I wanted her to be with her first love Niall. Unfortunate circumstances (fate) took her away and kept her away from Niall more than once. It was strangely unsatisfying in that way. I didn’t like the way she hated Niall for a period of time. It wasn’t justified. Most of the men in the story have flaws or do undesirable things which are bothersome, but it makes a good story.

The best part was Skye’s conflict with Queen Elizabeth. This was toward the end of the book. The Queen did something terrible to Skye, and Skye wanted revenge. I liked that story, but it was secondary to the stories of the men in Skye’s life. Although Skye is a fictional character, the author tried to be historically accurate regarding the Queen’s actions. The author states “I remain utterly intrigued by the court of Elizabeth, especially by Lord Burghley, who was so very clever and masterful at leading his royal mistress away from her destructive emotions, and by Robert Dudley, who was in my opinion a proper villain with kingly ambitions of his own. Like most historians, I have put my own particular spin on the time period. The places and the people in this book are based upon my own thorough research, and my hope was to breathe life into this fascinating era.”

I was frightened to see the Queen’s power over people and her actions based on whims. She could negate a will, force or prevent a marriage, and imprison someone without charges.

Some readers may have an issue with the purple prose, but it didn’t bother me. I consider it another style of writing. This book was published in 1980 when it was more common than it is today.

This book has many sex scenes, all very short. There are several rape scenes. One rape scene has men attempting to force sex between a girl and an animal. There are group sex scenes, prostitution, incest, and sodomy.

Skye’s father is the O’Malley, head of a wealthy shipping business in Ireland. He arranges a marriage for Skye against her wishes to an evil man. Skye meets Niall and falls in love at first sight, but her father won’t listen to her and forces the other marriage. Later when the O’Malley dies, Skye must take over running the shipping business until her younger brothers are old enough. She is kidnapped by pirates. Amnesia also comes into play.

Story length: 482 pages. Swearing language: moderate, including religious swear words. Sexual language: strong. Number of sex scenes: 36. Approximate number of sex scene pages: 32. Setting: About a ten year period starting in 1555, mostly Ireland, Algiers, and England. Copyright: 1980. Genre: historical romance.
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491 reviews627 followers
June 21, 2015
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

When Bertrice Small died a few weeks ago, Courtney Milan said on twitter that she’d never read any of Small’s books, and asked for which one to start with. In about 30 seconds, there were 8 people who suggested Skye O’Malley. I have read some Small before, and I did not like them very much. Adora was not good. But in honor of the giants we stand on, and because no one does crazy sauce like Small did, I read Skye.

There was a point where I sent Sarah an IM saying “Small did not skimp on the Franks Red Hot Crazy Sauce.”

(To which Sarah responded “She put that shit on everything” as is right and proper.)

I do really appreciate that Skye has great love with three men, and that it’s examined. She worries that loving Geoffrey means that she didn’t really love Khalid, and she talks it out with trusted friends. They validate her feelings, and talk about them, and the book is firmly on the side of “Just because your first love is dead doesn’t mean you stop living and will never love again.” That’s refreshing.

Also, because of my love of detail, I was tickled by Small’s descriptions of Skye’s clothes. There’s a LOT, and I bet you everything I have in my pockets ($23 and a baggage claim ticket) that one of the books she had one her shelf was Tudor Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris. The descriptions are really consistent with what I know of the research was being done in the 1970s. Small also talks about food, and, boy, does that make me happy. So happy. I want to see what was on this woman’s bookshelf.

It would have been nice for Skye to have female friends- she has some loyal and trusted servants, but they’re servants, not equals. She was sort of friendly with Elizabeth for a while, but Elizabeth chose keeping Dudley on a leash over not screwing over (literally) another woman, so.… I know that women being in competition with each other is a well-worn trope, but there’s been significant changes in that arena recently. It’s depressing that this was the case for so long, but here we are.

So a woman, with more agency than one might expect in a truly old skool book, is the heroine – of a series. Apparently there’s a sequel? How much more can happen? How many more times can Skye or Niall be fake-dead? HOW MANY. My bet is at least one more.

- Redheadedgirl
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