Thursday, November 3, 2016

Excerpt Tour: The Butcher's Daughter by Mark M. McMillin

Title: The Butcher's Daughter
Author: Mark M. McMillin
Genre/Age: Historical Fiction
Series: A Journey Between Worlds Novel
Publisher: Hephaestus Publishing
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SynopsisIn an age ruled by iron men, in a world of new discovery and Spanish gold, a young Irishwoman named Mary rises from the ashes of her broken childhood with ships and men-at-arms under her command. She and her loyal crew prowl the Caribbean and prosper in the New World for a time until the ugly past Mary has fled from in the old one finds her.

Across the great ocean to the east, war is coming. The King of Spain is assembling the most powerful armada the world has ever seen - an enormous beast - to invade England and depose the Protestant “heretic queen.” To have any chance against the wealth and might of Spain, England will need every warship, she will need every able captain. To this purpose, Queen Elizabeth spares Mary from the headman’s axe for past sins in exchange for her loyalty, her ships and men.

Based on true historical events, this is a tale about war, adventure, love and betrayal. This is a story about vengeance, this is a tale of heartbreak…
 



I stood on the poop deck next to MacGyver, Michael MacGyver, my best man at the helm, watching the morning sun, dressed in brilliant red, rise majestically above the sea’s shimmering green waters. A good, flowing wind filled our sails and the ship was cruising along nicely. We had Dowlin’s magnificent ship in tow and I could hear my men with their saws and hammers working to repair her shattered rudder. It was a glorious morning. It was a hallelujah morning.

“Good day, Mum,” Hunter said with a mischievous grin as he made his way up the companionway and handed me a mug of steaming, black coffee. “Sleep well my lady?”

“I did indeed, Master Hunter, I did indeed. And you?”

“I have no complaints. I feel most refreshed.”

From the corner of my eye, I could see MacGyver crack a thin smile. A ship is a small place, too small for secrets. The whole crew knew that Hunter and I were lovers.

I savored the coffee’s rich aroma for a bit before I took a sip. “What course, MacGyver? Did old Gilley even give you one before he retired to his hammock or are you sailing aimlessly about on the open sea to only God knows where?”

“We sail for the Na Sailt√≠, my lady.”

“Ahhh, the Saltee Islands,” I said. “I thought as much.”

No one had ever accused Dowlin of being clever. The Saltee Islands, lying just off Kilmore Quay between Waterford and Wexford, was an obvious choice. The islands were remote and uninhabited and not far from Dowlin’s base at Youghal. Still, without a map or guide, one could roam those small islands for years and not find any buried treasure.

Hunter grabbed my mug of coffee from my hand and took a sip. “Dowlin’s brothers,” he said soberly, staring absently out at the horizon, “ghastly brutes the pair of them, will want revenge when they hear of what we’ve done, Mary. Righteous or not, the gods always exact a price for a killing.”

Only Hunter and Gilley ever addressed me by my given name. Mary had been my mother’s name. But I did not know her. She had died when I was very young. They say she had been a rare beauty. They say that before my father took her in and married her, she had been a whore.

“No doubt,” I said evenly, stealing a secret moment to admire Hunter’s exquisite face in the soft, morning light.

He had not yet shaved. He wore no hat and had neglected braiding his long, black hair into a queue. The breezes toyed with the loose strands, brushing them across his face. His eyes were striking blue. His chin was square and strong. I thought him the most handsome man in all of Ireland, perhaps in all of Christendom.

Hunter used his fingers to comb the tangled mess off his forehead. He turned to face me and gave me a puzzled look.

“Out with it, Hunter,” I demanded.

“I’d rather see it comin’ than get it in the back. That’s all, my lady.”

“I agree,” MacGyver chimed in, “with Hunter.”

“You agree with Hunter do you now?” I asked mockingly as I placed my hands on my hips. “As if I give a damn what you two agree on! Do I smell a mutiny brewing aboard my ship?”

Hunter and MacGyver exchanged knowing glances and chuckled. As every man in my crew knew, any one of them could speak his mind freely and without fear. Honest speech was protected by one of the Ten Rules, though precisely which one I doubt any of us knew.

Then Gilley, climbing up the ladder from the main deck, stepped onto the quarter deck carrying a basket of bread from the ship’s galley. The bread was freshly baked, still warm and smelled delicious.

“Mutiny is it?” Gilley asked while handing out his loaves. “Never trusted the likes of these two, Mum. Be happy to gut them both for you after they finish their breakfast. I’ll hang their worthless carcasses off the main yardarm to rot. Let them serve as a warnin’ to all other would be mutineers.”

“Hunter,” I said, “is worried about Dowlin’s brothers.”

“Ah, and well he should be, Mum,” replied Gilley with a serious nod. “Well he should be. Them two aren’t no better than Dowlin. Worse maybe. An ill-tempered litter sprung from the angry womb of an ill-tempered bitch.”

“Aye,” I agreed. “So gentlemen, we must be the first to strike. And when we strike we must do so with deadly purpose.”




Mark is an attorney by day and an author by night. He has always had a passion for history and writing. The Butcher’s Daughter is his fourth book. Mark began his career with the military. He is a veteran of the “Cold War” and served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany. Mark currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia and is the general counsel for an airline and freight forwarding company.


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