SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Privateer’s Princess by Gail MacMillan

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Captain Caleb Cameron and First Mate Duncan MacDougal need money to set themselves up as legitimate privateers during the war between the British and the new United States of America. With the prizes they’ll conquer, they will be rich, so they risk the noose and accept a large sum to shanghai a princess and her lady’s maid. What they get is a pair of brazen, notorious women who will stop at nothing to get what they desire.

Annie Puddin, lady’s maid, has had adventures, riding as highwayman’s assistant by night, learning how to be a lady by day. So when she and her friend Ginny, a housemaid, spend an evening dressing up in the absence of their new mistress and dreaming of being rich, the champagne and caviar are nothing unusual—but being snatched and tossed out the window is a new experience, and there are more to come.



“Bloody hell, Cal! You’re telling me we’ve kidnapped a princess?” Duncan MacDougal leaped to his feet and stood glaring down at his friend. “God in heaven, man, can you imagine the penalty? Hanging will be the best we can expect.”

The captain, settled in the chair behind his desk in his cabin, looked up at the irate Scotsman looming over him. The Jenny Jones was far out to sea, blown before the gale that had been rising as they fled the manor house. He’d deliberately waited until they were well away to reveal the true identities of their passengers.

“If I’d told you one of them was royalty, would you have gone along with the plan?” He narrowed his eyes as he looked up at his first mate.

“Of course not! I have a fondness for my neck just as it is.” Duncan ran a hand through his tangled, sandy-colored curls. “Guid God, we’ve kidnapped a princess!”

“Not kidnapped…shanghaied.” Captain Cameron stood and went to a sideboard that held several flasks and tankards. “There will be no ransom demands. They’ll work their passage as any victims of press gangs would. Once we reach New Brunswick, we’ll deposit the pair of them in a convent. I’ve no desire to keep those creatures in my possession any longer than necessary. Then we’ll head for Saint John, New Brunswick, to outfit this vessel for wartime duty.”

He rolled his shoulders in an effort to relax their stiffness and felt a catch where the one he’d carried had twisted his flesh.
“Whisky?” He held up the flask.

“After what you’ve told me, I doubt you’ve enough spirits on this vessel to calm my nerves, but yes. I’ll be taking a fair guid dram.” Duncan MacDougall sank into a chair.

“Who did you think we’d be bringing unwillingly on this voyage?” Caleb poured a hefty measure into a mug and handed it to his mate. “I told you my friend the Duke of Haverbrook wanted rid of a couple of women who knew too much about his intended.”

“Aye, well, knowing the intelligence of his Grace and his proclivity for buxom women, I thought they were a couple of wenches he’d gotten in a family way and wanted placed in the care of nuns rather than have them thrown out into the streets to fend for themselves. That story you told me about a pair of lassies who knew too much about his intended didn’t hold water. I’ve come to get pretty fair at recognizing when you’re lying, Captain Cameron.”

“Two of them in a family way? Willie’s a horny little toad, but that’s expecting a lot even of him. Sound sensible, man.”

“Perhaps he and a friend could have gotten the two of them with buns in the oven? I don’t know, Cal.” He took a swallow of whisky and bared his teeth. “I never thought you’d do anything as daft as kidnapping a princess.”

“I repeat, shanghaied.”

“Shanghaied implies persons abducted to work their passage, then released. You received payment for this venture, a sizeable payment if it’s to be enough to outfit this ship as a privateer. It may not have been an actual ransom, but…”

“Dunc, listen to me. No one gets hurt. We deliver the women to a convent, where they’ll be well cared for by the good sisters. Once the nuns learn the princess’s identity, they’ll no doubt try to contact people back in England. By that time, Willie will be well and truly married to that trollop Lizzie.”

“Well, then, I guess there’s nothing to be done but to get on with it.” Duncan MacDougal heaved a great sigh and swirled his drink in his mug. “There’s no going back now.”

“That’s the spirit.” Caleb slapped his friend on the back. “You’ll be glad we undertook the venture once the Jenny Jones is outfitted for taking prizes and we’re on the way to becoming rich and famous…or infamous.”

“I have to admit, princess or no, the woman’s got spirit.” Duncan leaned back in his chair as his captain lowered the bottle to his friend’s mug to replenish it. “Did you see the way she looked at us…as if we reeked to high heaven?” Good humor returning, he chuckled. “I’m guessing, since she didn’t say a word, that her royal highness doesn’t speak English. Therefore she won’t be annoying us with a lot of regal demands. But her maid, now, there’s a lass with a wicked tongue. When I shut her in my cabin with her precious princess, she called me names that would make a drunken sailor blush.”

“There, now.” Caleb grinned. “All it took was a bit of good Scotch whisky to put you back in humor.”

“Aye, well, maybe something good may come out of this madness.” Duncan took a swallow of whisky. “Perhaps the maid can cook. God knows she couldn’t do worse than Higgins. Why you hired that man to work the galley, I can’t fathom.”

“I hired him as a fighting man,” Caleb replied. “But you know how it works aboard ship. Any man with a disability automatically becomes cook when there’s not an actual one available. Higgins lost an eye and took a splinter in the leg fighting with Nelson. Half blind and limping, he’s the obvious choice. That’s not to say he can’t do his share in a battle. You’ve seen him. He’s a bear of a man with the courage of a lion. He can crack a man’s skull with a single blow and fracture a jaw with one punch.”

“Oh, aye.” The Scotsman slanted him a sarcastic glance. “Not to mention cripple a man with a pot of swill he calls stew or set guts roiling with his coffee. I’ll be praying to the good Lord that the foul-mouthed little creature can do better.”


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gailmacmillanAward-winning author of thirty-five traditionally published books and four time Maxwell Medal winner, Gail MacMillan is a graduate of Queen’s University and has had short stories and articles published throughout North America and Western Europe. Find Gail at, on Facebook, and on Twitter @tollerbeagle44.

Jenny Q

8 Responses

  1. Did not reread my reply. Apologies. Each book of Gail MacMillan’s gets better and better. Many are movie material.

  2. Just read the excerpt and can’t wait to read the book.For a person who is not really a historical reader, I find it hard to put Gail’s books down. Could it be because they are set in my home community? I know they are making me want to learn more about the history of “The Miramichi”.

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