As a historian, my historical romance novels have a firm grounding in reality. The settings, the events, the feel can be traced through research and research and research of the period, of the people, of events.
In THE WICKED BARGAIN, Ethan’s story of being taken by the Barbary Pirates and sold into slavery in the Middle East is based on fact. The Barbary Pirates exist even to this day. These are not the pirates like we love in Pirates of the Caribbean, nor even Black Sails or the latest Crossbones. Pirating for hundreds of years, they strike fear into any ship they come close to. They raid, seize control of the ship, take prisoners and loot only to sell the people into slavery. History also shows they have arrived and landed on Greece, Italy, Sicily, Spain and up to the British Isles. They leech off the close seaside inhabitants, kidnapping them at night to make a profit off them to buyers in the Arabia and elsewhere.
The Western European powers and the United States found the way to be left alone is to pay the pirates a bribe to do so, or, in Great Britain’s power, a well-armed navy escort protected traders and merchantmen. By the beginning of the 19th century, America and England began to fight back. Under President Thomas Jefferson, the small navy of the US attacked Barbary pirate’s homeports, demanding free sailing without paying a bribe and won because they were set to burn the pirates’ homes. England, as number one sea power of the world, also stopped Barbary raids and the end to stealing freemen for slavery by 1840.
Ethan, our hero in THE WICKED BARGAIN, had his future changed before the Royal Navy had the ability to save him and others. Slavery in the Middle East was vast. The exact numbers are not known, as the Muslims considered the Westerners and Africans and any others they bought as the infidel and of little importance. The estimated numbers of Americans and Western Europeans enslaved in a 200-year frame up to 1840 is 1.25 million souls. They were sold, thrown into intense labor, hardly fed, little cared for and instantly replaced when they died of malnutrition, beatings, and illness or from being physically destroyed by the labor. The scene Ethan recalls in the story is based on factual basis of stories told by those who escaped or were ransomed (wealthy lords were ransomed – a rather slow and tedious process to extract the most; ladies thrown into harems were never ransomed but condemned to life there).
To learn just how this can change a man, I invite you to read Ethan’s story in THE WICKED BARGAIN.