People have been fascinated by pirates for hundreds of years. From the “bestselling” A General History of the Pyrates in 1724 to the more recent Pirates of the Caribbean movies, pirates have captured human imagination.
But the reality of pirates and the misery they dealt out is far different from the grog-swilling, swashbuckling, charming Johnny Depps and Errol Flynns depicted on the big screen. The grim reality of pirates—from the Caribbean to the coast of Japan and all points in between—is that they were criminals who traded in illegal goods. And for the three hundred years that preceded the abolition of the international slave trade there were no “goods” more lucrative than human beings.
A uniting theme in my Outcasts series books are characters who have had brushes with the Barbary pirates of the Mediterranean. When I began researching the subject I was stunned to learn Barbary corsairs didn’t limit themselves to the Mediterranean—or even to water—at all!
There are a shocking number of accounts of corsair raids on British soil itself. During the 17th century, especially—when over fifty Barbary vessels were believed to lurk off the waters of Southern Britain—corsairs attacked and captured entire villages in coastal Cornwall.
The same happened to many coastal towns bordering the Mediterranean, where corsair raids left vast swathes of coastline uninhabited.
According to existing accounts, fear of pirate capture was a daily concern for coastal residents, rivaling more traditional fears of famine, plague, and war.
What happened to these hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children?
Most of them would have been taken to the thriving slave markets in places like Oran and Algiers. The fate of poor folk was generally a life of forced labor for men and a life of prostitution for women.
For the wealthier captives there was the option of ransom, although that might take years, as it did in the case of Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes.
Every leader from the unfortunate Charles I to Oliver Cromwell to King George IV was harried and tormented by marauding corsairs and forced to combat their effects on British morale—not to mention the impact such pillaging had on fishing and trading.
Not until after the Second War of the Barbary Pirates ended in 1816 were travelers able to breathe freely when it came to sailing the seas.
Lady Euphemia Marlington hasn’t been free in seventeen years—since she was captured by Corsairs and sold into a harem. Now the sultan is dead and Mia is back in London facing relentless newspapermen, an insatiably curious public, and her first Season. Worst of all is her ashamed father’s ultimatum: marry a man of his choosing or live out her life in seclusion. No doubt her potential groom is a demented octogenarian. Fortunately, Mia is no longer a girl, but a clever woman with a secret—and a plan of her own . . .
Adam de Courtney’s first two wives died under mysterious circumstances. Now there isn’t a peer in England willing to let his daughter marry the dangerously handsome man the ton calls The Murderous Marquess. Nobody except Mia’s father, the desperate Duke of Carlisle. Clearly Mia must resemble an aging matron, or worse. However, in need of an heir, Adam will use the arrangement to his advantage . . .
But when the two outcasts finally meet, assumptions will be replaced by surprises, deceit by desire—and a meeting of minds between two schemers may lead to a meeting of hearts—if the secrets of their pasts don’t tear them apart . . .
About the Author
Minerva Spencer was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She has lived in Canada, the US, Europe, Africa, and Mexico. After receiving her M.A. in Latin American History from The University of Houston she taught American History for five years before going to law school. She was a prosecutor and labor lawyer before purchasing a bed and breakfast in Taos, NM, where she lives with her husband and dozens of rescue animals. Visit her online at minervaspencer.com or on the social media platforms below.