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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Privateers: Mercenaries of the Sea

I have a confession:  I love men of the sea. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived on the coast, surrounded by the lore of men who’ve lived and sometimes died on the sea.  The waters near my home have been filled with ships carrying sailors and buccaneers for centuries. Military battles have been won and lost off these shores, and Blackbeard found a haven on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And of course, the image of Johnny Depp decked out in his pirate finery as Captain Jack Sparrow didn’t hurt my fondness one little bit. I find the mystique surrounding buccaneers fascinating.  
       Eye patches, earrings, and walking the plank…these images fill our thoughts when we hear the word pirate.  I suspect the word privateer does not garner nearly the same reaction. I’m fairly sure Privateers of the Caribbean would not have enjoyed the enthusiasm stirred by Pirates of the Caribbean. In my opinion, privateers have been shortchanged in legend. Privateers were as bold and daring as their pirate brethren, with one crucial difference: they were backed by governmental authority.  Mercenaries of the seas, authorized by a country’s leaders to attack enemy ships, privateers have served a purpose in warfare in addition to seizing cargo and vessels for profit. By disrupting trade and commandeering ships into military service, privateers aided their government while filling their own coffers.
       Unlike a military ship that aimed to sink an enemy vessel, a privateer aimed to capture vessels and plunder their cargos. Privateers proved to be a significant force in naval warfare during the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Though not formally commissioned as warships, privateers sailed under the authorization granted in a letter of marque, a formal contract between the government and the privateer. A letter of marquee provided formal authorization for the privateer’s activities, spelling out the nationalities of ships the privateer was allowed to attack and the territory in which it could operate while ensuring the government would retain a share of the plundered goods.  
       Throughout history, privateers have made their mark. Privateers such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins aided Britain’s quest for naval superiority against the Spanish Armada in the sixteenth century, becoming national heroes in the process.  English pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, is believed to have operated as a privateer off the coast of Jamaica during Queen Anne’s War prior to turning to piracy around 1714.  Nearly a century later, American privateers played a significant role in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and even the Civil War. In one famous incident, notorious privateer Jean Lafitte led his crew to help General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British Navy during the Battle of New Orleans in the latter days of the War of 1812.
       My Ellora’s Cave debut, Claimed by the Captain, is the story of an American privateer bent on revenge against the swindler who destroyed his family and the woman who’s swept up in his quest for vengeance. Here’s a little about the story:
Jason Kane lost everything to one man’s treachery. Thirsting for vengeance, the ruthless privateer abducts Catherine Farrell, daughter of the swindler who destroyed his family. Intending to extract the debt owed him from his tempting prisoner, he plans a cold-blooded conquest. Aroused by his captive’s sensual beauty, he claims her with seductive persuasion. As he plunges her into a world of pleasure, her passionate surrender sparks a deep longing in his heart and soul.

Catherine Farrell lived the sheltered life of a prosperous merchant’s daughter until Captain Jason Kane made her a pawn in his quest for retribution. Claimed by the captain, she finds herself at the mercy of a man who will settle for nothing less than complete domination. His tender mastery awakens Catherine’s passions and stirs her heart. If only she can convince him that love is far more satisfying than sweet revenge.

You can find more information about the story at my website, www.tarakingston.com or at the Ellora’s Cave site. Hope you’ll stop by. Leave a comment about this post and you’ll be entered to win a free e-copy of Claimed by the Captain. The winner will be announced Friday, June 24. Check the comments after noon that day to see if you’ve won.


Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhhh and don't leave out the women. Anne Bonney a red headed pirate who to avoid the gallows claimed her belly. They say... those with red hair along the outer banks are descendants.... Being a Salter descendant and Edward Salter being part of Blackbeard's crew.. he was hung in Williamsburg when Blackbeard's head was brought back to Hampton, Va. They say when Maynard finally killed him, his head was severed from his body and when the body was tossed over, it swam around the ship three times before sinking. Many have claimed to see a man walking the beach on the full moon at Ocracoke, searching - perhaps it is Teach still looking for his head.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Loved your post. I'm a nut about pirates :-) Congrats on your release and best wishes!

Tara Kingston said...

Great point about women pirates! Perhaps I'll write a book with a female pirate heroine...the possibilities are fascinating. Hmmmm....I feel a story coming on!

Tara Kingston said...

Thanks, Sandra!

Joan Leacott said...

I always knew there was a difference but just wasn't sure what it was. Thanks for the lesson.

Tara Kingston said...

The winner is Sandra Sookoo. Please email me at tarakingstonromance@gmail.com to let me know which format you'd like.