Bound by the Heart


377 pages
ISBN 0-380-88732-0




Reviewed by Helen Stec

Helen Stec was a writer, editor, and publisher in Regina.


As romance novels go, this is one of the better ones. Bound by the Heart captures the reader’s imagination from the beginning and holds it to the very end, as Marsha Canham intertwines romance with adventure in the Caribbean of the 1800s.

Summer Cambridge, the young and beautiful heroine, is on her way from England to Barbados with her ten-year-old brother, Michael. Their ship is wrecked by a storm and by all accounts they are the only survivors. Afloat on a flimsy raft, Summer sustains herself with thoughts of her betrothed, Captain Bennett Winfield. The marriage, arranged with the help of her father, the British governor of Barbados, is to take place on that island in a few weeks.

Summer and Michael are saved from certain death by the pirate Morgan Wade, who takes an instant liking to her. Summer resists, but Morgan will have his way. She gets used to his visits, partly because she has no choice and partly because she is beginning to enjoy this new-found pleasure called sex.

Summer and Michael are eventually delivered safely to their father in Barbados; Summer marries Bennett as planned; and within nine months they have a little girl who looks remarkably like Morgan Wade.

From here the plot thickens. War breaks out between Great Britain and the United States. Summer discovers that Bennett is not the sweet cavalier she had imagined but a villain who is interested only in her father’s wealth and power. After much mystery and political intrigue, in the end Morgan turns out to be not just a pirate but also a direct descendent of a British lord. Morgan eventually claims Summer and his little daughter and, after a vicious sea battle, Morgan and Summer enter that “lived happily ever after” sequel.

The only controversial aspect of this is the question of Morgan’s rape of Summer — his forcing himself on her against her will. As Canham depicts the scenes, Summer ostensibly rejects his advances but she secretly looks forward to them. This may give some men the opportunity to say “Aha, I told you so,” while feminists will strongly denounce the act and claim that Summer (and, ergo, Marsha Canham) has sold her sisters down the river.

Other than that, Bound by the Heart has the right mix of romance, history, and adventure to become a prime candidate for a television mini-series, complete with a beautiful heroine, a virile pirate and lots of old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure.


Canham, Marsha, “Bound by the Heart,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2023,