Mistress of the Sea

Jenny Barden

An epic romantic adventure set against the backdrop of Francis Drake’s first great enterprise – the attack on the Spanish ‘Silver Train’ on the isthmus of Panama.

Plymouth 1570; Ellyn Cooksley fears for her elderly father’s health when he declares his intention to sail with Drake on an expedition he has been backing. Already yearning for escape from the loveless marriage planned for her, Ellyn boards the expedition ship as a stowaway.

Also aboard the Swan is Will Doonan, Ellyn’s charming but socially inferior neighbour. Will has courted Ellyn playfully without any real hope of winning her, but when she is discovered aboard ship, dressed in the garb of a cabin boy, he is furious.

To Will’s mind, Drake’s secret plot to attack the Spanish bullion supply in the New World is a means to the kind of wealth with which he might win a girl like Ellyn, but first and foremost it is an opportunity to avenge his brother Kit, taken hostage and likely tortured to death by the Spanish. For the sake of the mission he supports Drake’s plan to abandon Ellyn and her father on an island in the Caribbean until their mission is completed. But will love prove more important than revenge or gold?

First pubished by Ebury (Random House, UK) in 2012.


Shortlisted in the ‘Best Historical Read’ category for the 2012 Festival of Romance Reader Awards.

Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award 2013

“Beautifully written and researched, this tale of desire, revenge, piracy, war and valour is so evocative we can taste salt on our skin and hear the swoop of sails overhead as we’re swept up into a high-stakes adventure unlike any we’ve read before.”
C.W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

“A fascinating look at a “lost” adventure of English sea-faring–exotic, savage, and altogether engrossing.”
Diana Gabaldon, author of the bestselling Outlander series (Cross Stitch, UK)

“Fantastic, really fantastic. Very exciting, and moving, vivid characters, great ending.”
Richard Lee, founder and Chair of the Historical Novel Society

“A captivating and well researched tale of love, duty, and the consequences of actions, set against a vividly described New World”
‘Editors’ Choice’ in the Historical Novels Review

“Sizzling…fun, fascinating and vividly drawn…atmospheric, enchanting…Mistress of the Sea is a rip-roaring, escapist adventure story full of action, drama, good guys, bad guys, real history and thrilling romance.”
The Lancashire Evening Post

“A fabulous story, and a wonderfully different (but important) perspective on Elizabethan times… Whether you sign up for this journey in search of romance, high-stakes adventure, or just engaging entertainment, there’s something for most everyone here.”
Sarah Johnson, Reading the Past

“Brings together all the best elements of historical writing and breathes new life into the craft of epic storytelling. Sharply-drawn, credible characters, perilous adventure, exotic locations and the skilful blending of fact with fiction, make Mistress of the Sea a real page turner.”
Elaine Saunders, founder of the Post-ChickLit Book Group

“The splendid tale of Ellyn, who stows away with Sir Francis Drake to save her father’s life and follow the man she’s not yet willing to admit she loves. Thick with the voices, as well as the smells, sights, sounds and naval politics of a Tudor universe.”
Emma Darwin, author of A Secret Alchemy – This Itch of Writing blog

“A swashbuckler of a romance and adventure… Jenny’s attention to detail is superb, her writing is skilled, and her sense of adventure is engrossing.”
Helen Hollick, author of the Pendragon’s Banner trilogy

“On the day Drake’s ship is set to sail, Ellyn makes a fateful decision that will change the course of her future – she disguises herself as a boy and stows away on Drake’s ship. What follows is the adventure of a lifetime”
Confessions of an Avid Reader

“A real swash-buckler of a novel that will appeal to all readers. It’s a story that harks back to the very start of the Golden Age of Discovery – the author has weaved a marvellous work of fiction around a very well-known historical figure and his ‘antics’.”
Stuart MacAllister – Sir Read-A-Lot blog

“A rollicking good read… The opening scene of the book is one of the most gripping and unusual I’ve ever come across. As soon as you read that, you know you’re in a safe pair of hands… I promise you your heart will be in your mouth…”
Justin Neville, founder of the London Historical Fiction Book Group

“Adventure, suspense, action, poignant loss and conflicted love – Jenny Barden deserves highest praise for her historical fiction debut, intelligently and sensitively written. Readers will be eager for her next novel.”
Margaret Evans Porter, author of The Islanders series

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