August 1621: The Ghost Ship floats silently on the water, all guns silenced, all voices quiet. In the hold, the bodies of men who are dead or dying. Only two pirates remain on deck, still defending their vessel against the superior firepower of the Spanish galleon. Slavers or freedom fighters, this stretch of water off the Barbary Coast is
home to more privateers than any other and this vessel has seen more than its fair share of action. Now, its hull is splintered, the sails tattered and burnt.
For many months, the ship has hunted pirates in the waters of the Islas Afortunadas to liberate those enslaved by corsairs. A courageous crew made up of mariners from Italy and France, Holland and the Canary Islands, they are brave men, fighting men all. But things are not what they seem.
For the bravest of the men on board are, in fact, women living in disguise to protect their identities: the commander of the ship, Louise Reydon-Joubert, fleeing a miscarriage of justice that would see her taken to the gallows; and her lover, Gilles Barenton, exchanged as a child for her dead brother to falsely claim an inheritance. Both know their fate. If arrested, they will be tried, condemned and hanged for their crimes. Whatever happens, they cannot allow their identities to be discovered.