SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Black Morass (Pirates of the Coast Book 1) by Barbara Devlin

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A WANTED PIRATE

Forever glancing over his shoulder, Jean Marc Cavalier is a ruthless pirate with the blood of countless souls on his hands and a price on his head, but he is a lonely man. In exchange for a chance at redemption, pardons for his crew, and a peaceful life, he accepts a pact that could result in liberty or death, if only he can survive the terms, but at least he will be free. When he rescues a young woman in distress, and vows to return her to her family, he is torn between his natural instincts born of violence and the honorable bargain he struck. What will Jean Marc choose?

A HUNTED LADY

En route to Jamaica to join her father, after her guardian dies, Lady Madalene Davies departs Boston in anticipation of a new life in a foreign land. When her ship is attacked and set afire, she is left for dead, until an unlikely savior comes to her aid. Brash and bawdy, her flawed hero defies the conventional ideal, as he is no knight in shining armor and seems forever intent on shocking her, yet she cannot resist the lure he presents. What happens when danger lurks in unexpected places, faith is broken, and Madalene must rely on Jean Marc to stay alive?

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EXCERPT

Atlantic Ocean
March, 1816

Virtue was a highly overrated characteristic in his estimation. In truth, he ranked it in the miserable depths of humanity comprised of respectability and righteousness. For the strong and fearless, the glorified traits of honor and integrity functioned as an impenetrable barrier to the excitement of the worldly existence filled with violence and debauchery in which he once reveled on a daily basis. In exchange for societal approval, grown men surrendered their dignity, and their whore’s pipe, he would argue, to abide by a set of rules in which most had no say, and for what? High principles? Prestige? Indeed, such noble qualities sucked dry the marrow of life, leaving naught but the simple pleasures to enjoy, as the Black Morass rode the waves.

Sunshine glittered on the ocean, as a sea of precious diamonds, and a cool breeze sifted through his long black hair, as Jean Marc Cavalier directed the helmsman. Restless and yearning for stimulation, something to feed the hunger that gnawed at his harrowed soul, he approached with caution what appeared to be a burning schooner that he might offer aid, in accord with the pact he signed in a moment of weakness or perhaps insanity.

“No movement on deck, Cap’n.” Tyne, the bosun, lowered his spyglass. “Should we continue our advance?”

“We will maintain course and heading, just to be sure there are no survivors in need of rescue.” For some strange suspicion he could not quite shake, Jean Marc surmised all was not as it seemed, given the nearest vessel disappeared below the horizon before he could inquire after the circumstances of the misadventure. For a seaman, naught struck fear in the heart more than fire aboard ship, which could send an entire crew to Davy Jones’s locker. And he had given his word to perform meritorious deeds for a full year, in trade for an unconditional pardon. At the end of twelve months, Jean Marc and his men would be free of past crimes, beholden to none.

But at what price had he bartered his autonomy?

It was for that reason Jean Marc refused to sail past the doomed lady. And then he spied activity at the stern rail, on the quarterdeck. “Come about.”

“What is it?” Peering over his shoulder, Tyne narrowed his stare. “Is that a white flag?”

As they drew closer, Jean Marc smiled, and a familiar itch in his palms had him flexing his fingers. The lure of conquest burned bright in his loins, and he struggled with a craving for fresh meat, if only to reassert authority over his life. “It is a woman.” He laughed. “And she waves her undergarments.”

Perhaps fate smiled upon him, as the chit might be just the balm to ease his unrest and allow him to regain a measure of control. Obligated to the Crown, and no longer the master of his destiny, he thirsted for the power of ultimate domination, and nothing compared to the supremacy inherent in seduction.

“Bloody hell, she is a tasty bit o’ fluff.” Tyne licked his lips. “And a bottle of Jamaican rum says she is unspoiled, too.”

“I believe you are correct in your assertion, mon ami.” That tempered Jean Marc’s ever-growing arousal, as he never claimed virgin’s blood, because he preferred experienced whores who knew what he wanted and gave it to him, without complaint or inconvenient emotional attachments. Then he got a good look at the boon, in question, as the Morass glided to a halt, and full-blown lust threatened to consume him. Maybe it was time to sample the tender flesh of an innocent. “Ahoy, dear lady. Jean Marc Cavalier, most definitely at your service.”

“Kind sir, I would be grateful for passage to Port Royal.” Behind her, the masts collapsed, and she shrieked. How he ached to make her squeal with enthusiasm, as he would wager she could scream much louder with the right inducement. “As you can see, my current accommodation is about to sink, and I am in dire need of new transportation.”

“Lower the plank.” He signaled the crew. “As I am certain we can strike a mutually beneficial bargain.” With a lush figure made for sin, and of that he could envision committing many with her, and alabaster skin he fully intended to explore in more intense inspection, once he got her alone, she presented a delightful distraction. “How is it your ship fell into such misfortune, and where is the crew?”

“They are dead.” Tears pooled in her vivid blue eyes, and she emitted a soft sob, but he cared not for her sad tale. “We were attacked by pirates, and I hid in the captain’s cabin, in a small compartment beneath a concealed floor panel, which he revealed he previously used for smuggling, thus I was spared.”

“Come here, mon chou.” As the bow dipped below the surface of the water, he slipped an arm about her hips and whisked her aboard the Morass.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bestselling, Amazon All-Star author Barbara Devlin was born a storyteller, but it was a weeklong vacation to Bethany Beach, DE that forever changed her life. The little house her parents rented had a collection of books by Kathleen Woodiwiss, which exposed Barbara to the world of romance, and Shanna remains a personal favorite.
Barbara writes heartfelt historical romances that feature flawed heroes who may know how to seduce a woman but know nothing of marriage. And she prefers feisty but smart heroines who sometimes save the hero, before they find their happily ever after.

Barbara earned an MA in English and continued a course of study for a Doctorate in Literature and Rhetoric. She happily considered herself an exceedingly eccentric English professor, until success in Indie publishing lured her into writing, full-time, featuring her fictional knighthood, the Brethren of the Coast.

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