Crushin’ on True MacKenna’s inner pirate by Gale Martin

What is it about pirates that capture a contemporary woman’s imagination and stir her longing for adventure? Their savagery combined with a certain suavity? The black tricorne and villainous swagger together with the gentlemanly ascot and shiny frock coat?

Pirates are both hard and soft. Fire and ice. Swashbuckling and debonair.

While swagger is an important component of the complete pirate package, so is attire. Ask most any woman, and she’ll tell you that when it comes right down to it, women often dress for other women. Why? Women are more inclined to notice the extra attention to detail such as accessorizing, makeup, clothing quality, and all that jazz. As for many men, well, as Grace says halfway through my comic romance Grace Unexpected, “Put a box turtle in a red dress and men would whistle at it.”

Surely pirates must have dressed with women in mind, too, if only subconsciously. And just like modern-day pimps, while their line of work offends, the spectacle of their costume simultaneously intoxicates.

Need further proof? How about the sensation Johnny Depp created playing Jack Sparrow in all The Pirates of the Caribbean flicks?

In Grace Unexpected, thirty-something Grace Savage has two love interests at the same time—a younger guy and a considerably older man.

The latter, True MacKenna, is a 62-year-old anthropology professor by day but a Renaissance man outside the classroom. He is the kind of man who looks like he was born to wear a starched shirt and a crisp pair of chinos. He has achieved enough success in life to have surrounded himself with beautiful things and meaningful things. He likes art and culture and has discriminating taste.

Because he is my creation, I have made him both fire and ice, exhibiting strength and savoir-faire throughout the book.

Here’s Grace’s reaction when she steps into True’s classroom for the first time:

MacKenna printed his name on the board in all caps and turned to the class. Thick white hair. Steely blue eyes. His crisp striped Oxford, well cut, couldn’t disguise a pair of shoulders broad as a boulevard.

“Welcome to Anthropology 108. I’m True MacKenna. Feel free to call me True.”

Commanding voice. Charismatic. A dozen female hearts must have jumped like horned toads at this invitation to call him by his nickname.

It’s not beyond the pale that Grace has daydreams about True, all dressed up like Captain Hook. Partly because Grace has a fanciful nature. But also because her younger, traditional age classmates wear their pirate swag to class—trendy skull and crossbones t-shirts and sneakers they picked up at the Jersey Shore. And Grace, who’s a bit out of practice as a college student, observes their kitschy clothes and allows her mind to drift away during True’s lectures, to Bootleg Bay and other out-of-the-way locations for imaginary trysts with her handsome teacher.

However, the main reason Grace has pirate fantasies about True is that True has categorically embraced his inner pirate.

These days, the cliché used when referring to sexy older men is silver fox. While that moniker applies to True as I’ve envisioned him, the same qualities that make the silver fox irresistible might also apply to pirates.

Men of a certain age can often be more confident, more charming than their younger counterparts. As people age, they are less concerned with pleasing others. Seldom do you hear anyone past the age of 55 express the kind of anxiety as a twenty-something would about feeling accepted. Whereas the twenty-something might say, “What will people think?”, someone older is less likely to care about what people outside their immediate sphere of influence thinks. Because time and experience have taught them not to sweat little things like they used to. After all, there has to be some tradeoff for all the wrinkles and gray hair.

Whereas the younger man is almost enraged when he finds out Grace is seeing someone else at the same time she is seeing him, when True finds out he is competing with a much younger man for Grace’s attention, he says:

“I want to see you. I like being with you. So until you tell me to stop seeing you, I’ll see you every chance I get. I don’t want to add any more stress to your life. Honestly, life is too short for me to engage in histrionics or fancy play-acting to manipulate you into seeing only me. Come here.”

He pulled me close and gave me a lingering kiss. “Whatever you decide, I’ll be here.”

Not surprisingly, he is as much a contender for Grace’s affection as is the handsome younger man. What keeps True in the game is his confidence, his quiet swagger, his attention to and cultivation of his inner pirate.

To all gentlemen, regardless of age, seeking the good graces of a fine woman, a word to the wise: Don’t leave home without your fearsome, foxy inner pirate.

You can purchase Grace Unexpected at Amazon or BookPeople. is currently giving away 10 copies of the book; log on by July 31 to register to win one.

Gale Martin is an award-winning writer of contemporary fiction who plied her childhood penchant for telling tall tales into a legitimate literary pursuit during midlife. She began writing her first novel at age eleven, finally finishing one three decades later. Her newest novel Grace Unexpected is humorous women’s fiction that features a protagonist with a heart of pure gold, wrapped in lead, who can hear her ovaries ticking. Gale has a master of arts in creative writing from Wilkes University. She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania, which serves as a rich source of inspiration for her writing. Connect with Gale at her website, or on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.