Murdering the captain when at sea and on a ship crowded with sixty pirates? Not the wisest move Ivory Shepard makes. Prone to acting first and considering consequences later tends to get her into trouble, particularly this time. But she has good reason – preventing the slaughter of innocent men – and she’s a pirate – or so the captain led her to believe. She may think she’s as good a scurvy dog as the rest, but most of the pirates believe a woman is good for only one thing . . . and it ain’t being a pirate!
Only when confronted by Quartermaster Willy McCormack, who’s glad to be rid of Captain Barclay, does Ivory discover there’s a difference between reality and what she believes is true. Barclay promised to keep her and her cousins – Cassandra, Miranda, and Keara – alive and unharmed and deliver them to Kingston, Jamaica. In actuality, the pirates are taking them to Port Royal to be sold to the highest bidders. McCormack – who never approved kidnapping and auctioning lovely, untouched, young women to lusty, and sometimes brutal, rogues – offers to shelter and feed Ivory and her cousins until he can arrange for Razz Bergman to secretly ferry them to safety.
Unbeknownst to McCormack his wife is in cahoots with Barclay. His murder only makes her more determined to continue selling those in her care. She feigns concern for Ivory and her cousins, providing them with clothing, shelter, and food. This time around, she’s chosen some very unsavory pirates as the purchasers for Ivory and her cousins. Once arrangements are made and they “disappear”, she’ll tell her husband they simply ran away.
Never one to wait around and let others arrange her life, Ivory disguises herself as a man to venture into Port Royal to find someone willing to take them to Kingston or another island to live. Razz sees through her disguise, but is intrigued by her desire to play a man. As they become acquainted, their attraction to one another grows. Together they formulate a plan, which goes awry when Razz’s boat is burned, she’s kidnapped, and the nasty pirates planning to buy Ivory and her cousins arrive in Port Royal.
This first book in this Golden Age of Piracy series is a riveting tale that takes no prisoners. From first page to last, Bartlett keeps readers perched on the edge of their seats with barely sufficient time to catch their breath before the roller coaster crests each successively higher pinnacle. With a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping climax and poignant interludes of romance, Demons & Pearls is a rousing swashbuckler sure to please any pirate fan.