by Jennifer Rose McMahon
"When your dreams become reality, being cursed can be a real nightmare."
Like a punch in the face, eighteen-year-old Maeve O'Malley's visions knock her off her path. The pirate queen stalking Maeve in her dreams killed her mother years ago and now, the villain is coming for her. Maeve's decision to ditch Boston College takes everyone by surprise as she packs her bags, leaves America, and heads to the west coast of Ireland to chase her dreams – and end them.
Maeve uncovers an ancient family curse that refuses to remain silent until she accepts her predestined role in what many thought was only a legend. Her Irish history professor – a man she shouldn’t be falling for – is the only person who understands the origins of her torment.
Maeve's journey becomes a medieval treasure hunt through Ireland’s castles and ruins as she tracks the wrathful pirate queen who has her marked for vengeance.
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I peeked over Mom’s headstone. The wind had whipped up without warning, flinging mist and twigs at me like shrapnel, making me squint and shield my face. My hair twisted wildly and my jacket flapped against my body, raising alarm in every nerve. I gripped the top of Mom’s stone, straining to see past the wind, trying to figure out who was out there.
A thick smell of iron coated my throat and I wretched. Blood was in the air, mixed with rage in the violent gusts and fear burst into my heart. I could swear I heard my name swirling in the blasts, sounds of an unknown or dead language, and pressed my hands over my ears to stop it. I fell back, wiping the assault from my face and searched Mom’s stone, eyes wide with panic.
Desperate for a response, I stared into her monument like looking into her safe, nurturing face. I blinked for better clarity, leaning in to it, when somewhere deep in my mind, her voice exploded as she commanded me—
Snippet # 2
In a knee-jerk response to Gram's call, I tripped on zucchini vines and landed at the base of the St. Brendan statue in the middle of the garden, my face nearly hitting it.
“Jesus!” The accusation rang clear. I blamed him for a lot more than nearly breaking my face on one of his anointed ones.
A handmade shelter enclosed the three-foot whitewashed statue of Brendan on three sides. From the back, I couldn’t see the religious icon but knew its every feature by heart: peaceful, bearded face, robe-like clothing, cross in one hand, gesturing to the open expanses with the other. Always mocking me.
He was Brendan the Navigator. A courageous mariner, in search of paradise or the Garden of Eden. My grandmother’s bedtime stories retold St. Brendan’s Voyage, his epic travel to the promised land, a million times, engraving his fearless curiosity onto my soul.
White paint peeled down in delicate rolls from the outer back wall of Brendan’s enclosure, moving my eyes toward its stony base. And there, in the statue’s foundation, was a hidden metal door the size of the long side of a shoebox, with countless coats of paint, rusty hinges, and a small, aged padlock.
My eyes widened. How could a little door be here all this time and I never noticed? I cupped my palm around the lock to inspect its tiny designs: Irish artwork, Celtic-type swirls and knots pulled me in, whispering their secrets too quietly for me to hear.
Snippet # 3
I called out for Rory while holding the back of my sore head. My voice was gone, lost in the chaos, and I tasted the evil bile of dread rising from my belly. Lifting my gaze, the green fields and stone walls came into view—fading in and out of focus.
Then I saw her.
My captain. From my nightmare.
She loomed ahead of me, sword drawn back and dappled with light. Her eyes blazed and her delicate features twisted into a snarl. An avenging angel sent to destroy me.
She raced toward me from within the fort, sword held high, teeth bared on her savage, grief-stricken face. Panic coursed through my veins, freezing me to my spot. In her rage, her long black hair and layered shoal flew around her, giving her the appearance of a goddess; one of destruction and death. She was charging toward me with clear intent to kill.
I froze in place as she came at me, her expression contorted. I braced myself for the heinous blow of her sword but felt only wind. She moved through me like a shiver and continued beyond to the outer point of the fort, her violent intent still clear.
Jennifer Rose McMahon has been creating her Pirate Queen Series since her college days abroad in Ireland. Her passion for Irish legends, ancient cemeteries, and medieval ghost stories has fueled her adventurous story telling, while her husband’s decadent brogue carries her imagination through the centuries. When she’s not in her own world writing about castles and curses, she can be found near Boston in the local coffee shop, yoga studio, or at the beach…most often answering to the name ‘Mom’ by her fab children four.
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