The first book paints an intimate, compelling portrait of 1650s Irish slavery in the Caribbean.
DARING PASSAGE tells the rest of Irish slave Freddy O’Brennan’s tale.
It’s still 1656, and Freddy is on the run. Determined to protect her young children and keep her family together, she is tested more than ever as she navigates a choking gauntlet of greed, corruption, duplicity, and bloody violence.
Romantic sparks fly, then smolder, and ultimately threaten to explode.
DARING PASSAGE: BOOK TWO OF THE SPIRITED AWAY SAGA is a 70,000-word historical romance novel that captures a rare, authentic glimpse of life in the New World colonies of the seventeenth century.
Targeted Age Group:: adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My first novel, SPIRITED AWAY, has been very well-received, with readers pretty much screaming for a sequel. So, I just had to do it. I had to provide “the rest of the story.” I hope my readers will enjoy this sequel!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I began by imagining what life was like during the 1650s. Some of the characters were inspired by my historical research, while others just came to me as I wrote this book.
It was interesting to me, how some of the characters took on a life of their own.
One in particular, my Native American character Birdie Moss, ended up a much more important character than I initially thought she would be.
Someone knocked softly on the open cabin door.
Colin whirled around. “Come in, please,” he said, trying not to stare. Freddy made quite a picture in the candlelight. Her long-sleeved black dress accentuated the two bright splotches of pink on her cheeks. She looked different in black, with no vest. Her hair was different, too. Birdie was striking this night as well, in her new blue shift. Both women seemed older without the white slave gowns. Owyn was watching the children while they dined, but Freddy’s babe rode on her chest. Freddy lowered herself onto the cushioned window-seat and looked around in the flickering light. Colin had meant to dust off the oak cabinet, straighten the blankets on his bunk, and stow the dirty breeches still hanging from one of the hooks. At least it smelled good in here. The women’s baths had left a lingering, flowery scent. Colin found a bottle of rum and three glasses. “Rum?” He leaned against the large table desk bolted to the floor in front of the high stern window.
“Please,” Freddy replied.
Birdie nodded silently. Colin offered her the wooden chair next to the cabinet. As she settled herself and he poured the rum, the ship’s cat wandered in.
“Barnie!” the women cried in unison as she trotted over and rubbed against Birdie’s legs. The native woman stroked her back and the cat arched, purring loudly.
Freddy sipped her rum, glancing at the four-poster bed. At its foot sat an ornate, padlocked chest. “Just like in the stories,” she whispered. “Ye even have a treasure chest, Colin.”
He perched on one corner of the desk and grinned at her. “That I do.”
“Dare I ask what is inside?”
“Ask away, but I’ll never tell.” Colin winked, studying her as she took her brown babe from his sling. Freddy’s throat was pale against the black dress collar, which was slightly open. The hollow at the base of her throat throbbed. His fingers fairly itched to undo more of the black buttons, and he yearned to press his lips there. The pink in her cheeks deepened and he knew she felt his eyes on her. He wanted to blurt out the questions racing around in his head. Every day he fell more in love with Freddy. But every day his fears grew as well. Could she ever return his love, with her whole heart? How had she come to love the babe’s African father? She had admitted that she had loved the African field slave. He wondered if he could ever trust her completely. Doubt gnawed at him, making his stomach burn. There was much, too, that she did not know of Colin’s early life in Éire, things he never spoke of. He must find the courage to be completely honest with her. She deserved nothing less. But what if it meant losing her? Freddy had taken to wandering the sloop’s decks late at night, alone. Colin resolved to join her there as often as he could, so they could speak freely.
Freddy was cradling Kofi and rubbing his little chest.
Colin went to his bunk. “Ye may put him here, if ye wish.”
She settled the babe there, running her slender hand over the child’s black hair. The infant yawned as his mother tucked a blanket around him.
“Voil̀a!” Xavier swooped into the cabin carrying a big tray loaded with dishes, tall candlesticks, and a soup tureen. A white cloth was folded and draped over the cook’s right arm.
“Splendid,” Colin said.
“Good,” Birdie murmured into the cat’s fur.
“Something smells delicious,” Freddy remarked.
Xavier smiled and carefully set the tray on the big bed. With a flourish he took the white cloth from his arm and placed it on the desk chair. After clearing off Colin’s table desk, Xavier shook out the cloth and covered the desk with it.
“Let me help,” Freddy offered.
“No, no, madame,” the cook replied, adding a long string of French words as he moved two chairs to the table.
Freddy sent Colin a helpless glance.
“I think Xavier wants us to sit over here.” He sat on the window-seat and patted the place next to him. Freddy joined him, lifting her glass to the room and sipping. Colin took her other hand and raised it to his lips, kissing the back of her silky hand.
“I still cannot believe we are here,” she whispered.
“Nor I,” Colin murmured back. He could drown in those almond-shaped eyes of hers, glittering like translucent emeralds. Tiny beads of sweat dotted her delicate upper lip. The heavy air pressed down on him. Reluctantly, he released her hand.
Xavier lit two tall candles in pewter candlesticks, which he had ceremoniously placed on the table. He put the tureen in its center, winked at the women, and waved them over.
“It would appear that our ship’s cook has outdone himself.” Colin escorted them to the table, where Xavier ladled the stew.
“God’s bounty to us,” Freddy said, raising her glass. “May we never bear the terrible load of an empty stomach.”
They drank, then tasted the stew.
“Mmmm,” Freddy crooned, lifting another spoonful to her mouth. “What is this?”
Colin took a moment to swallow. “We call it ‘Cook’s Special Stew.’”
“Scrumptious!” Freddy examined the simmered hodgepodge of fish, turtle, and salt meat. For this meal, he had added fresh onions and cabbage and herbs. There were also plates of fried yams.
“Good!” Birdie managed to say between bites.
Barnie streaked across the floor. There was a noisy tussle in the corner by the tub, after which the shaggy cat emerged with a mouse in her mouth, looked around, and pranced proudly out the door.
“Good kitty,” Colin said.
Birdie wiped her face with her napkin. “Wind coming.”
“What’s that?” Had he heard her right?
“This…” Birdie waved her hands in the sticky air. “…Mean wind comes.”
“I hope ye’re right,” Freddy said.
“As do I!” Colin leaned back. “Birdie, please tell me about your people.”
The native woman put her spoon down. “Monacan pray Okee, creator.”
“Okee,” Colin repeated.
She nodded, looking from him to Freddy. “Okee help people. Enemy chase to little deep water. People pray Okee help. Rock bridge come. Big medicine, people safe.”
“A rock bridge?” Freddy asked.
Birdie nodded and drew a huge arch in the air. “High. Strong.”
“Where is your village?” He sat up straighter.
“Rassawek. Big fork.” She made a fork with two fingers.
“Do ye remember how it looks?” he asked.
Birdie nodded again, turned one hand up, and traced a line on her palm. “River come from north.” She pointed to her right side. “Medicine place for old ones.”
“I look forward to seeing your homeland,” Colin said. “As a lad I hunted in the County Wicklow mountains.”
“You hunt with my people,” the Monacan woman replied in her no-nonsense way.
“I would enjoy that.”
Barnie ran back in, leaped onto the window-seat, and attacked the blanket curtain with her claws. Her ears were flat, her tail swishing.
“I have never seen her so frisky,” Colin remarked.
“Perhaps from eating the mouse?” Freddy took a bite of yam.
Birdie just watched the cat.
“Sailors have superstitions about ship’s cats protecting them from dangerous weather, bringing luck,” Colin said. “It’s said to be lucky if a cat approaches a sailor on deck, but unlucky if it only comes halfway. If a sailor throws a ship’s cat overboard, it means a serious storm that will either sink the ship or bring her nine years of bad luck. If a cat licks its fur against the grain, it means a hailstorm is on its way. If it sneezes it means rain…”
“And if it’s wild and frisky?” Freddy looked over at the cat, now making a show of sharpening her claws on the window-seat.
“That means wind.” Colin grinned at her again.
Birdie nodded sagely. “Barnie, my people, know: wind comes.”
Xavier brought a cooled fig pudding for dessert. As they were finishing up, the babe fussed.
“I must go feed him,” Freddy murmured. She rose from the table and went to Kofi, picking him up and tucking him into the sling. “Colin, thank ye for a wonderful supper.”
Birdie nodded again. “Thank ye. Good!”
“It was my pleasure. Oh! Wait.” He walked to the big bed and picked up a bundle. “This is for ye, Freddy, to keep the chill off as we sail north.”
Surprised, she tore open the brown package. “Ohhhh!” She held up the thick, forest-green wool shawl he had purchased in Tortuga.
“It is the color of your eyes,” he whispered.
“It is beautiful!” she cried, rubbing the smooth wool along her cheek. She touched his forearm lightly. “Thank ye, Colin!”
Watching her lips, he leaned forward, but then stopped himself. He knew that once he began kissing her he would never stop.
About the Author:
Maggie Plummer is a writer who lives in western Montana. Along the lengthy, winding trail to becoming a novelist, she has worked as a journalist, book publicist, book editor, census enumerator, school bus driver, field interviewer, waitress, post office clerk, fish processor, library clerk, retail salesperson, Good Humor girl, fishing boat first mate, race horse hot walker, apple picker, and bus girl. Maggie is the author of SPIRITED AWAY – A NOVEL OF THE STOLEN IRISH (2012, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) and PASSING IT ON: VOICES FROM THE FLATHEAD INDIAN RESERVATION (2008, Salish Kootenai College Press, Pablo, Montana). DARING PASSAGE: BOOK 2 OF THE SPIRITED AWAY SAGA is her second published novel.
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