South Seas Maiden series

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A Maiden's Journey, Book Two, South Seas Maiden series (Historical Fiction, Book Award 2023)
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Sarah Campbell is a rarity in the early the early nineteenth century. She is a woman born of Scottish parents and raised on an island in the South Seas (South Pacific). Circumstances force Sarah and her father to leave their idyllic island. Her father dies in an act of treachery before they reach civilization. Sarah quickly discovers that she’s unprepared for her new life in the sophisticated West. She grew up on a primitive island. The complexities of the Western world (money, landownership, clothing, social rules, etc.) are unknown to her.

More importantly, Sarah is unaware of the Western perception that all South Seas Maidens will give themselves to any man for the asking. She is still a virgin. Sarah’s honor is tested, and she must learn to survive in this complex society without family.

From the harems of the Ottoman Empire, to the social minefields of Regency society, to the plantations in South Carolina, to tropics in the West Indies, join this South Seas maiden on her epic journey to find her place in a world in which she’s not welcome.
First 10 Pages

Chapter 1

March 2, 1814 – The Barbary Coast

A warm breeze swept across the quarterdeck sending Emile Dumont’s chestnut curls dancing around his leathery face. The chatty seagulls demanded his attention as their wings caught the wind, sending them swirling high above his three-masted clipper before diving to the water below. Not even the playful seagulls could distract his attention from the ominous dot lurking on the horizon, which was growing larger with every passing moment. Emile inhaled the last of the elixir from his wooden pipe. It was the only thing that calmed the uneasiness billowing inside him.

His captain approached him and leaned against the railing. “Report.”

Emile tore his gaze from the horizon and gasped when he spotted the gleam in his captain’s eyes. Gerard Rochelle looked like a rugged gentleman. His green eyes and friendly smile engendered the trust of every man he met. The captain promised to take his crew away from Napoleon’s war. He also promised them riches beyond their dreams. Desperately wanting to escape France, Emile eagerly signed on as the ship’s surgeon.

“Your pirate ship is sailing straight for us, Captain.” Emile looked back at the horizon, silently noting that the ship was now close enough to see its half green, half white Algerian flag waving proudly. “Do you think it’s him, sir?”

“Of whom do you speak?”

“Hassan Aziz,” Emile replied.

Gerard’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve been obsessing about that savage since we reached the coasts of Africa,” he snapped.

“Perhaps we have a good reason to be concerned, sir. You’ve heard the sailors talk; Aziz has a reputation for being the most ruthless corsair on the Barbary Coast. Sailors claim that he is the devil himself. His ship appears out of thin air. God help you if your vessel catches his eye because there is no way of eluding him. If that happens, we can watch our freedom and possibly our lives sail away.”

The corners of Gerard’s mouth curled into a mocking grin. “Don’t be a gullible fool. Aziz is like any other man; he can be bought.”

Emile turned away from his captain and raised his pipe to his mouth.

Gerard yanked Emile’s arm, forcing the doctor to face him. “What?”

“What makes you so confident that these barbarians will seize our cargo and not sell us too?” Emile retorted.

Gerard took Emile’s pipe and inhaled before handing it back. His eyes narrowed again, “I need to know that I can depend on you.” Gerard’s voice sounded almost sinister.

Emile forced a smile because he was sure that his captain would throw him overboard if he sensed the least bit of betrayal. “Of course, sir. Have I not proven my loyalty already?”

“You can prove your sincerity by administering Monsieur Campbell’s medicine. Make sure it is extra potent this time. Prepare his daughter. I surmise that she will be meeting her new owners shortly.”

Emile nodded and pushed past his captain.

Gerard grabbed the surgeon’s arm. “Do not fail me.”

“Why would I fail you? Or have you forgotten that I was the one who led the babes to slaughter?” Emile glared back.

“I’ve seen the way you look at that savage.”

“Sarah Campbell is sweet, but I want my share of the prize as much as you do. Monsieur Campbell will be dead by the time the corsair ship arrives. I suggest that you prepare our ship to be boarded.” Emile yanked his arm free and headed to the gangway leading to the middle deck. He scurried down the ladder and paused when he reached the deck below. Taking a few moments to let his eyes adjust to the darkness enabled him to collect his thoughts.

The beat of a drum stirred sailors into a flurry of activity. Emile took a deep breath and forced his way through the chaos to the surgery. He retrieved a vial of clear liquid and mixed it with the last of the red wine before heading to the ship’s stern. Gerard initially placed the Campbells in the cargo hold. Because that area of the ship was prone to flooding, Emile offered them his quarters; he slept in a hammock in the surgery.

Mr. Campbell laid on his berth, which was nothing more than an oversized wooden shelf, attached to the bulkhead and covered with a thin layer of straw. Sarah knelt beside her father and wiped the perspiration from his forehead with a damp cloth. Emile’s heart raced when he realized that this would be the last time he would see Sarah Campbell.


Hassan Aziz stood on the quarterdeck watching his prey through his scope. Every muscle in his face was tense as he stared at the ship’s French flag waving back at him. A small merchant ship was legitimate prey even if he were flying under the British flag. Hassan knew his crew would have no trouble taking the ship. Still, the tension kept building inside him.

Samir Zamani sidled up beside Hassan. “The crew is ready.” He paused as he studied his captain. “You seem nervous, Captain.”

Hassan lowered his scope and glared at his second lieutenant. Samir Zamani was the only one among his seasoned crew who had naturally dark features. Samir was also the only one Hassan hadn’t handpicked for his crew. “I am not weak,” Hassan growled.

“I know you hate enslaving infidels. I see it in your eyes every time we attack another ship. It is the only way they will see the light,” Samir stated.

“My crew and I do what is required of us. We have executed our duty with distinction, and I have made your employer a very wealthy man,” Hassan reminded him.

“You mean our employer. Naa’il Dhar is the Dey of Algiers. Oh, I forget; you are a British subject, not a true Ottoman.”

Hassan towered over Samir, his eyes narrowing. “Dhar would not have made me captain had I not renounced my allegiance to Britain, would he?”

Samir held his gaze. “His Excellency made you captain because your exploits are profitable.” He smirked. “I am curious how it feels to sell your Western people into slavery?”

Hassan returned his attention to the French ship.

“I wonder; would you enslave your countrymen?” Samir queried.

Hassan looked his lieutenant in the eyes. “No. England pays Algiers a king’s ransom in tribute money to prevent corsairs from attacking British ships. While other corsairs ignore this agreement, I will not.”

“What about your Western women, would you sell them too?”

“I doubt I will ever have to make that decision. The people from Western countries will not bring women to this part of the world because they know they will be sold into slavery if they are captured.”

“We get a few women from time to time,” Samir countered smoothly. “I trust you will turn over the crew and whatever else you seize to His Excellency.”

Hassan’s knuckles turned white as his hand clutched the railing. “I have turned over the crew and the plunder of every ship that I have seized since I became a corsair. Why are you challenging my loyalties now?” His voice grew louder with every word he said.

“Because I know that you and your crew are still infidels. You all kneel on your prayer rugs, but you do not pray to my God. You drink your spirits; you play your games for money. We have strict punishments for these offenses.”

Hassan gave his second lieutenant a murderous glare. “Dhar does not care what we do so long as we bring his prizes to him. That is exactly what I will do. Now report to your station.”


Sarah Campbell stared helplessly at her father, who had been reduced to a hairless skeleton. At the beginning of their journey, Thomas Campbell was a strong and healthy man, but an illness seemed to have struck him a few days after they left their island. Each day he grew steadily worse, yet her father fought off death. He lost consciousness that morning; Sarah would do anything to make him well.

The crew had been kind to Sarah and her father during their journey. She was grateful that Emile gave them his quarters and medicine for her father.

“Sarah,” said Emile in a gentle voice.

She wiped the tears from her Adriatic blue eyes and glanced up at her friend. “Da no better.”

Emile squatted and tucked the cup under the berth. He took Sarah’s arm, pulled her to her feet, and led her outside her cabin.

“I can see that. I brought more medicine for your father, but Sarah, you must be strong for him.” Emile wiped a tear from her soft cheek and nudged closer. He slid his arms around her waist and pulled her against his chest, stroking her satin hair. Moments later, the ship shook after a loud boom.

Sarah yelped. “What is?” She pulled away, bracing herself when the ship shook from the impact.

“That? Oh, it is nothing. It is just … drills,” Emile smirked.

Sarah knew that Emile was keeping something from her by the way he avoided eye contact with her. His widened eyes also hinted that he was scared. She heard another loud boom. This time, Sarah reached for Emile when the ship shook again and was followed by loud screams. ”What is?” Sarah pleaded.

“Sarah, I am …” Emile pressed a kiss to her full lips. “Come with me to the quarterdeck.”

“No, I stay with Da,” Sarah insisted.

“It is better for you and your father that you join me on deck. I promise that the loud noises will end shortly,” Emile reasoned.

“Why?” Sarah challenged.

“Trust me; it’s a beautiful day. I think your father would want you to enjoy it.”

Sarah was accustomed to the constant thundering of footsteps from the overhead, but her inner voice told her that these sounds were different, and something was very wrong. At the same time, Sarah couldn’t deny that she missed the sun’s warmth. Her father was sleeping, and Emile was right, he wouldn’t miss her, providing that she didn’t stay away for very long. “I come back soon?”

“Of course,” Emile said convincingly.

Sarah bent over and retrieved the cup of medicine. The loud thud had caused half of the contents of the cup to slosh out. “Give him medicine now?”

Emile took the cup from her and carefully set it under the berth. “You can give it to him later.”

Nodding to her friend, Sarah hovered over her father and kissed his forehead.

“Sarah, would you do something for me before we leave? Will you tie your cloth around your waist, like the way you wore it on your island?” Emile reached past her and retrieved her paru sitting on the edge of her father’s berth.

“No, Da say he no want,” Sarah countered. It was true that she wore only a cloth tied around her waist when she lived on her island. That was how the women dressed, but Sarah and her father left that life in what seemed to be a lifetime ago. Her father insisted that she remain covered for the duration of their journey, which meant wearing a shirt and breeches whenever she was on deck. “It is for your protection, lass,” her father counseled her. He was right; her western clothing seemed to lessen the sailor’s hungry stares.

Emile gently tugged on a lock of her waist length hair. “Sarah, you look so beautiful when you wear your native cloth. Besides, your hair will protect you from the sun. Please, will you do this for me?”

“Da say no do; I no do,” Sarah maintained.

“You must!” Emile snapped.

Sarah backed away from him when she spotted the anger in his eyes. “No,” she maintained.

Just then, a man wearing loose-fitting trousers and a cloth wrapped around his head, ran towards them wielding a large saber in his hand. The invader stood at least half a head taller than Sarah. Although a pointed beard covered a third of the intruder’s face, she could see that his skin was much darker than Emile’s.

Emile slowly raised his arms over his head as he quietly and calmly spoke to the man in French. Fearing for her father’s life, Sarah charged towards the invader, attempting to slap his face. The last thing Sarah saw was the intruder blocking her arm and striking her across her cheek.


Hassan gasped when he spotted Samir proudly carrying an unconscious naked woman over his shoulder with a French sailor walking beside him. He glanced over at the French captain whose smirk matched Samir’s delight. Hassan wanted to rush over and kill his second in command for stripping a woman of her clothes, but his inner voice insisted that he wait. Samir reached the center of the mob and dropped the woman onto the deck.

Hassan squatted to take a closer inspection. He had known many women throughout his life, and he had never seen her equal. Her face, her curves, her long-flowing auburn hair were absolute perfection.

“I am Captain Rochelle. It is my great pleasure to present a unique treasure. I assure you that she is the only one of her kind. We found this exotic maiden on an island in the South Seas. We will gladly give her to you … for a price.”

Hassan studied the woman a little longer. He couldn’t deny that the black outline of a single six-petal flower inked on each upper arm and the bands of matching flowers around her ankles gave her an exotic quality. Still, he wasn’t ready to believe the captain. “Rochelle, did you say? I am not a fool. South Seas maidens are legendary. I know a person who enjoyed the pleasure of their company. He described their appearance to me, and I can ascertain by this woman’s red hair that she is no more Polynesian than I am,” replied Captain Aziz as he stood up.

“You have a keen eye, Captain. Sarah Campbell was born to Scottish parents, thus her red hair. Her father and mother lived on the island where she was born. Her mother died a few years later. The natives welcomed Sarah and her father into their village. Needless to say, the savages raised her as one of their own. In fact, we were the only civilized people that she’s encountered, save her father of course. If you don’t believe me, look at her markings. Surely a well-informed man such as yourself is familiar with the cultural trappings of the Polynesian women. Her arms are adorned with tattoos of flowers that are indigenous to her island. You can rub all you want, but the ink will never come off.”


Sarah stirred when she heard the drone of an unfamiliar baritone voice. She slowly opened her eyes and gasped when she discovered Hassan crouching over her. He looked and dressed like the man who struck her, except he was even more intimidating. A short pointed beard covering his defined cheekbones and his chiseled jaw partially hid a scar on his left cheek. His muscular arms and chest looked like they could crush her with a single blow. Sarah would have been terrified had she not seen compassion in his brown eyes. Then he did the unexpected; he reached for her hand and pulled her to her feet.

One of Hassan’s men began removing Gerard’s coat. Emile stepped in and gave her paru to Hassan, who stared at the cloth with disapproval. Fearing he would throw her cover overboard, Sarah reached for the cloth. Hassan gave her a curious look before handing it to her. Sarah tied the paper-like cover over her shoulder. She knew her father wouldn’t approve, but at the moment, it was better than wearing nothing at all. Sarah then gasped when she looked around and realized that she stood in the center of what seemed to be a legion of men. Half looked and dressed like the man who hit her. Each of them pressed a knife against a French seaman’s neck. Fearing for her safety, she wanted to run, but Gerard locked his hands around her arms and pinned her back against the wheel.

Hassan and Gerard continued talking, although, Sarah only recognized a few words that Emile taught her. The rest of the conversation was nothing more than gibberish. Polynesian was the only language she spoke fluently; Sarah wondered if she would understand them better if they conversed in English. Her father attempted to teach his native language to her while they lived on their island. Learning English was difficult and a waste of time for Sarah because her father was the only person who spoke that language on her island. So, she saw no point in learning something that she would never use. In her defense, she honestly believed that she would never leave her island until the French ship arrived. Her father resumed her English lessons during their journey, but they were cut short after he became ill. Shaking herself from her regrets from past mistakes, Sarah attempted to focus on the current conversation.


“I see you still need more convincing, Captain Aziz. Her white teeth are another common trait to the Polynesians.” The crew watching the spectacle erupted with laughter when Sarah snapped at Gerard’s fingers as he attempted to pry her mouth open. He forced her to obey by pinching her neck. “To my knowledge, the South Seas savages are the only ones who have teeth of this color. Perhaps the most prominent trait is her lack of shame.” Gerard lifted the cloth to expose her front. “Do you see what I mean?”

Hassan chuckled when Sarah attempted to bite Gerard’s hand. He didn’t know what to think other than he couldn’t take his eyes off her. His expression hardened a moment later when he spotted her humiliation after Gerard pulled back her cover. Hassan cocked his pistol, pointing it directly at Gerard’s head. “That’s enough. Now lower her cover.”

Gerard grimaced as he released the end of her wrap. “That is not necessary, Captain.” He spoke in an obsequious tone, yet his smile was sinister. “I see she pleases you; I will be happy to sell her to you for two hundred francs, or its equivalent in gold.”

Hassan’s eyes widened. “That is a high price for a maiden, even for one as pretty as this.”

“As I mentioned before, she is unique. I assure you; this creature was raised to provide pleasure in a way that is worthy of commanding such a price. Do we have an agreement?”

Glancing to his crewmates on deck, Hassan signaled for them to take Emile and Gerard captive.

To Gerard, he replied, “No, we do not have an accord. Gentlemen, do not attempt to fight; every member of my crew is skilled at inflicting excruciating pain. I am seizing your ship and your cargo.”