Can a former privateer and a determined heiress find lost treasure in 1725?A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.Pasts Collide in New Orleans when a Treasure Goes Missing The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear. Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo. More to come in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (coming February 2018)The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (coming April 2018)The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (coming June 2018)The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (coming August 2018)The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (coming October 2018)The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (coming December 2018)
About the Author
Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than eighty novels with almost two million copies in print in the US and abroad. She has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and is the winner of the 2014 Inspirational Romance of the Year by Romantic Times magazine. Kathleen is a paralegal, a proud military wife, and a tenth-generation Texan, who recently moved back to cheer on her beloved Texas Aggies. Connect with her through social media at www.kathleenybarbo.com.
Read an Excerpt
Aboard the Spanish vessel Venganza near Havana
Mama may have been named for the great-grandmother who traveled from England on the Mayflower, but that fact certainly did not keep her in the land of her birth. Twelve-year-old Maribel Cordoba sometimes wondered why Mama refused to discuss anything regarding her relations in the colonies beyond the fact that she had disappointed them all by marrying a Spaniard without her papa's blessing.
The mystery seemed so silly now, what with Mama gone and the father she barely knew insisting she accompany him aboard the Venganza to his new posting in Havana. Maribel gathered the last reminder of Mary Lytton around her shoulders — a beautiful scarf shot through with threads of Spanish silver that matched the piles of coins in the hold of this magnificent sailing vessel — and clutched the book she'd already read through once since the journey began.
Though she was far too young at nearly thirteen to call herself a lady, Maribel loved to pretend she would someday wear this same scarf along with a gown in some lovely matching color at a beautiful ball. Oh she would dance, her toes barely touching the floor in her dancing shoes. And her handsome escort would, no doubt, fall madly in love with her just as Papa had fallen in love with Mama.
Her fingers clutched the soft fabric as her heart lurched. Mama. Oh how she missed her. She looked toward the horizon, where a lone vessel's sails punctuated the divide between sea and sky, and then shrugged deeper into the scarf.
Nothing but adventure was ahead. This her papa had promised when he announced that, as newly named Consul General, he was moving her from their home in Spain to the faraway Caribbean.
She had read about the Caribbean in the books she hid beneath her pillows. The islands were exotic and warm, populated with friendly natives and not-so-friendly pirates.
Maribel clutched her copy of The Notorious Seafaring Pyrates and Their Exploits by Captain Ulysses Jones. The small leather book that held the true stories of Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and others had been a treasure purchased in a Barcelona bookseller's shop when Papa hadn't been looking.
Of course, Papa never looked at her, so she could have purchased the entire shop and he wouldn't have noticed.
But then, until the day her papa arrived with the news that Mama and Abuelo were now with the angels, she'd only seen this man Antonio Cordoba three times in her life. Once at her grandmother's funeral and twice when he and Mama had quarreled on the doorstep of their home in Madrid.
On none of these occasions had Señor Cordoba, apparently a very busy and very important man, deigned to speak to his only daughter. Thus his speech about Mama had been expectedly brief, as had the response to Maribel's request to attend her funeral or at least see her grave.
Both had been answered with a resolute no. Two days later, she was packed aboard the Venganza.
She watched the sails grow closer and held tight to Mama's scarf. Just as Mama had taught her, she turned her fear of this unknown place that would become her new home into prayer. Unlike Mama — who would have been horrified at the stories of Captain Bartholomew Roberts and others — Maribel's hopes surged.
Perhaps this dull journey was about to become exciting. Perhaps the vessel on the horizon held a band of pirates bent on chasing them down and relieving them of their silver.
By habit, Maribel looked up into the riggings where her only friend on this voyage spent much of his day. William Spencer, a gangly orphan a full year older and many years wiser than she, was employed as lookout. This, he explained to her, was a step up from the cabin boy he'd been for nigh on seven years and a step toward the ship's captain he someday hoped to be.
Their passing annoyance, which began when she nearly pitched herself overboard by accident while reading and strolling on deck, had become something akin to an alliance during their weeks at sea. To be sure, William still felt she was hopeless as a sailor, but his teasing at Maribel's noble Spanish lineage and habit of keeping her nose in a book had ceased when she discovered the source.
William Spencer could not read. Or at least he couldn't when they set sail from Barcelona.
He'd been a quick study, first listening as she read from Robinson Crusoe and The Iliad and then learning to sound out words and phrases as they worked their way through Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. By the time she offered him her copy of Captain Jones's pirate book, William was able to read the entire book without any assistance.
She spied him halfway up the mainmast. "Sails," she called, though he appeared not to hear her. "Over there," Maribel added a bit louder as she used her book to point toward the ship.
The watch bell startled her with its clang, and the book tumbled to the deck. A moment later, crewmen who'd previously strolled about idly now ran to their posts shouting in Spanish words such as "pirata" and "barco fantasma."
"Pirates and a ghost ship?" she said under her breath as she grabbed for the book and then dodged two crewmen racing past with weapons drawn. "How exciting!"
"Don't be an idiot, Red." William darted past two men rolling a cannon toward the Venganza's bow then hurried to join her, a scowl on his face. "This isn't like those books of yours. If that's the Ghost Ship, then you'd best wish for anything other than excitement."
Shielding her eyes from the sun's glare, Maribel looked up at William. "What do you mean?"
"I mean they're bearing down on us and haven't yet shown a flag. I wager when they do, we won't be liking what flag they're flying."
"So pirates," she said, her heart lurching. "Real pirates."
"Or Frenchmen," he said. "A privateer ship is my guess if they're not yet showing the skull and crossbones."
She continued to watch the sails grow larger. "Tell me about the Ghost Ship, William."
"Legend says the ship appears out of thin air, then, after it's sunk you and taken your treasure, all twenty-two guns and more than one hundred crewmen go back the same way they came."
"Back into thin air?" she asked.
"Exactly. Although I have always thought they might be calling Santa Cruz their home as it's near enough to Puerto Rico for provisioning and belongs to the French settlements." He paused to draw himself up to his full height. "And care to guess who the enemy of the men aboard the Ghost Ship is?"
Maribel leaned closer, her heart pounding as she imagined these fearless men who chased their prey then disappeared to some mysterious island only to do it all over again. "Who?"
"Spaniards, Red. They hold license from the French crown to take what anyone flying under the Spanish flag has got and split it with the royals. And they don't take prisoners."
She looked up at the flag of Spain flying on the tallest of the masts and then back at William. "No?"
William shook his head. "No. They leave no witnesses. Do you understand now why you do not want that ship out there to be the Barco Fantasma as these sons of Madrid call it?"
She squared her shoulders. "Well, I care not," she exclaimed. "There are no such things as ghosts. My mama said to pray away the fear when it occurred, so perhaps you ought to consider that." Of course, if she allowed herself to admit it, Maribel should be taking her own advice. Much as Mama reminded her of her status as a woman not born in Spain, her father's lineage and the fact a Spanish flag waved in the warm breeze above her head would seal her fate.
"I'm not scared," William said. "If those fellows catch us, I'd rather join up with them than stay here. Wasn't asked if I wanted to sail on this vessel, so I figure I might as well invite myself to sail on theirs."
"You wouldn't dare. You're not the pirate sort."
"Privateer," he corrected. "And who says I'm not? I read those books of yours. Sure, I'm not one for breaking the law, but if Captain Beaumont offers honest work for my share of the pay, then I'd be better off than I am here. Besides, I can always jump off at the nearest island and stay there like Mr. Robinson Crusoe did. If I tried that now, the Spaniards would come after me and beat me senseless."
She recalled the bruises she'd seen on the boy's arms and nodded. "If you go, I'm going with you. I'll join up with this Captain Beaumont and climb the riggings just like you do."
"You're just a girl," he protested. "Don't you know girls are bad luck on privateers' ships? It was right there in the book."
"It was indeed," she said as she cradled the book against her chest. "But I don't believe in luck. If the Lord allows, then it happens. If He doesn't, then it doesn't. That's what my mama says, and I believe it is true. So I'm going to pray that Captain Beaumont is a good man."
"That's ridiculous, Red."
"The praying?" she said in a huff. "Prayer is never ridiculous."
"No, of course not," he hurried to say. "But to suggest that Captain Beaumont might be a good man —"
"You there, boy," a sailor called as he jostled past William. "Back to your post and look smart about it."
William fixed her with an impatient look. "While you're doing all this praying, go down to your cabin and hide," he told her. "Bar the door and, no matter what, do not let anyone inside except me or your papa, you understand?"
"Papa," she said as she looked around the deck. "I need to find him."
"Likely he's helping prepare for the attack and won't want a child bothering him," William said. "Do as I said and make quick work of it. Oh, and Red, can you swim?"
"I can," she said even as his description of her as a child stung. "My mama taught me but said we couldn't tell my papa because he thought swimming was undignified and beneath our station. Why?"
"Then if all else fails and you're faced with being captured or the threat of death, jump overboard. It's a known fact that most pirates cannot swim, so you'd be safer afloat in the ocean than aboard a sinking ship." He nudged her shoulder with his, a gesture that reminded her once again of their friendship. "Now off with you, Red. I've got work to do."
"But what about privateers and Frenchmen?" she called to his retreating back. "Can they swim?"
"You better hope you don't find out," was the last thing William said before he disappeared into a crowd of crewmen.
Maribel stood there for a full minute, maybe longer, surveying the chaos unfolding around her. Though she was loath to take William's advice — he was always such a bossy fellow — she did see the wisdom in making herself scarce until the fuss was over.
Oh but she'd not run to her cabin where she would miss all the excitement. There must be a place where she could stay out of the way and still watch what was happening on deck.
Pray away the fear.
She raised up on her tiptoes to look over the men gathered around the cannon. The sails of the approaching vessel were much closer now, their pristine white matching the clouds on the horizon.
A roar went up among the men of the Venganza, and then the cannon fired. Covering her ears, Maribel ran in search of the nearest shelter and found it behind thick coils of rope and stacked barrels. Only when she had successfully hidden herself inside the coil did she realize she had dropped her prized book. She had to retrieve it; nothing else would do.
She rose slowly, clutching the ends of Mama's scarf just as the vessel made a turn to the right. With the tilt of the deck, the book slid out of her reach. Braving the throng of people, she headed toward the book, now lodged against the mainmast.
Pray away the fear.
She removed the scarf from her neck and tied it around her head like the pirates whose likenesses filled her books. The ends fluttered in the breeze, and if she thought hard, she could remember Mama wearing this scarf.
She did that now, thought about Mama. About how she loved to tie the scarf around her waist when she wore her pretty dresses. Someday she would tie this scarf around her waist like Mama did.
Someday when she was a grown-up lady.
A cannon sounded from somewhere off in the distance, and then the vessel shuddered. Stifling a scream, Maribel took a deep breath and said a prayer as she grasped the edges of the scarf.
Smoke rolled toward her as Maribel struggled to remain upright on the sloping boards beneath her feet. She reached the book and then slid one arm around the mainmast to steady herself against the pitching motion.
Pray away the fear. Pray away the fear. Pray away ...
The cannon roared again. A crack sounded overhead and splinters of wood and fire rained down around her.
Then the world went dark.
Captain Jean Beaumont took ownership of the Venganza before any man aboard had given it up. He did so simply by claiming it for the crown and glory of France. From that moment, according to the rights granted him in the Letters of Marque, the issue was not whether but how the Spanish vessel would be turned over to its new owner.
Predictably, the Spaniards had resisted all efforts to be peacefully overtaken. A pity, for it was obvious these men stood no chance against his well-trained crew. Now they were paying the price.
All around him his men worked as a team to corral the ship's crew and passengers and prevent any brave souls from seeking retribution. Those assigned to document and remove all valuable items from the vessel had begun their work as well.
Of these men, Jean was most proud. It was a badge of honor to be known and feared by reputation but also to be considered fair in his execution of the privileges extended to him as a privateer.
Each item taken from the vessel would be accounted for, with a list being sent back to the king along with the crown's portion of the spoils. The remainder would be divided among the crew with Jean forgoing his own share.
If the crew thought it odd that their captain took no profit from their voyages, none had been brave enough to say so. This voyage, however, was different. He would take his share, but not in the supplies and silver coin that were now being carried across the deck.
With command of the ship now his to claim, Jean stepped over a fallen Spaniard and kept walking. He sought only one man: Antonio Cordoba.
His second-in-command, a mountain of a man who had escaped slavery to pledge his allegiance to Jean, stepped in front of him holding a man by the back of his neck. It was Israel Bennett's job to go straight to the man in control of the vessel and subdue him.
He did that job well.
The gentle giant offered no expression as he held his quarry still with seemingly little effort. "Claims he's the captain, sir."
Jean looked down at the pitiful captain, taking note of the terror in his eyes and the spotless uniform. Revulsion rose. There was only one reason a man's clothing would be spotless on an occasion such as this. The coward had hidden himself and allowed his men to do the fighting for him.
"See that he understands we have boarded under Letters of Marque on behalf of France and King Louis XV. We wish him and his crew no harm, but we must confiscate what now lawfully is ours."
Israel Bennett dutifully repeated the words in flawless Spanish, saying exactly what Jean would have had he wanted the captain to know he spoke the language fluently. Jean nodded when the message had been delivered.
"I thought he would be older," was the Spaniard's muttered response. "It appears the ghost captain has ceased to age. I claim sorcery."
Israel chuckled, his laughter deep and resonant. "He is of sufficient age to best you and your ship, and I assure you no sorcery was used."
This captain's response was a common one. Though Jean would soon see his twenty-fifth birthday, he was often mistaken for one of his crew rather than the man in charge.
Perhaps this was due to the legend that had grown up alongside the reputation of the vessel that had been dubbed the Ghost Ship, not by him but by those who hadn't seen the ship coming until they were close enough for the cannons to reach them. Or perhaps it was because he felt twice his age most days.
"One more thing," Jean added as he looked up at Israel. "Tell him I wish him and his crew no further harm. However, I demand he produce Consul General Antonio Cordoba immediately so that he and I might have a private discussion."
Excerpted from "The Pirate Bride"
Copyright © 2018 Kathleen Y'Barbo.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
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