Welcome to Jolie Rouge!

The idea to write a pirate story took root in early 2010 following a recent family vacation to Key West. It was a wondrous trip filled with sipping boat drinks in the sand by day and strolling up and down Duvall Street by night. Fond remembrances are still had of the dinner we shared at the Conch Republic Seafood Company one evening of the mahi-mahi I caught earlier that day, prepared by a restaurant chef.

I had been considering a pirate-theme project for sometime. It was a Friday afternoon in May, after throwing in the towel for the workweek, when I decided to sit down and finally flesh out some ideas. It didn’t take long to realize that the best pirate novel was one that captured the essence of Key West’s carnival-like atmosphere and answers the questions I inevitably find myself dreaming about whenever I’m at the beach; questions like: what’s out there beyond the horizon? What would be like to ply the high seas during the age of sail, or to be a pirate for a day? Are there pirates out there right now waiting to prey on one of the pleasure boaters once they cruise beyond sight of land?

The budding concept took a fortuitous turn when I stumbled upon the remarkably obscure pirate Bartholomew Roberts during my research. To say the least, the historical record of Roberts’ exploits was every bit as dramatic as the best fiction, so I elected to recount his piratical life in full. The same can be said about Haiti, a country with a rich and turbulent history so incredulous that it, too, begged to be summarized in detail in support of the fiction portion of the story that delves into Voodoo (Vodou) and zombies (zombis).

I hope you find Jolie Rouge to be the perfect beach read or companion to help chase the winter blues away. Thank you for your support and enjoy the adventure.

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season!


Excerpt from “Chapter 10 – Little Inagua, Bahamas – Monday”

Jolie Rouge: A Swashbuckling Tale of Adventure and Intrigue by Rick Ley

Excerpt from “Chapter 10 – Little Inagua, Bahamas – Monday”:

Pete awakened Saturday morning long before the five o’clock alarm
had sounded. In fact, he had been awake for much of the night in
anticipation of the adventure about to unfold. Emerging from the shower,
his senses were pleasantly aroused by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee
drifting his way from downstairs. The aroma, paired with the reason for his
wee-hour rousting, fondly reminded him of their first morning in Brett’s
condo. Pete reckoned that he must have awakened Cat despite his best
efforts at cat-like stealth. He laughed softly under his breath; she had no
doubt already rummaged through his things, making certain that he’d
packed everything, his passport in particular. She’d probably also checked
his wallet to ensure he had enough cash on hand to tip the airport limo driver.

By the time he’d made it downstairs, Cat had a hot cup of coffee waiting
for him. “Thanks,” Pete said. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”

Yawning, she said, “No, not really. I needed to get an early start today,
anyway. I can make you some toast.” On her way to the cupboard she added,
“It looks like you have everything.” Pete smiled warmly. “What?” she said,
casting him a wary eye.

Excerpt from “Chapter 9 – Cape Coast Castle, Ghana – March 28, 1722”

Jolie Rouge: A Swashbuckling Tale of Adventure and Intrigue by Rick Ley

Excerpt from “Chapter 9 – Cape Coast Castle, Ghana – March 28, 1722”:

It was only a matter of time before he was captured or killed in battle.
Roberts surely must have known this, considering that his success had
made him a hunted man on both sides of the ocean. The world was fast
becoming a much smaller place, the coastlines less remote, the shipping
lanes increasingly crowded with warships to accompany a burgeoning
trade. Roberts certainly would have observed this fact as well. Then there
were those Woodes Rogers sorts—the Englishman’s success at eradicating
the pirate trade at New Providence in the Bahamas no doubt would have
resulted in the placement of provincial governors of a similar bent of mind
at strategic locations in the Old World before long. Until then Roberts could
only hope to buy time, to perhaps find that someplace left where he could
continue roaming the seas uncontested, or perhaps some foreign land where
he could assimilate back into society a wealthy and obscure man.

Excerpt from “Chapter 8 – Hampton-Solomon Residence – Fox Chapel Borough, Pittsburgh, PA”

Jolie Rouge: A Swashbuckling Tale of Adventure and Intrigue by Rick Ley

Excerpt from “Chapter 8 – Hampton-Solomon Residence – Fox Chapel Borough, Pittsburgh, PA”:

Approximately 150 million years ago, when dinosaurs and their kin
still ruled the earth, chemical and biological processes converged to
create what would become one of the great geographic splendors
on earth: the Bahamian Archipelago. Yet despite the dinosaurs’
great size and dominance, these processes would soon dwarf the
mightiest sauropods, and outlive the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex.

Millimeter by millimeter, calcium carbonate rained out of the seawater
and joined the calcareous and siliceous remains of microorganisms
to form a limy ooze, pushing limestone layers down into the crust at
a rate of 1.5 inches every 1,000 years.

This deposition continued until about 2.5 million years ago, when
climate perturbations caused cyclic advances of the polar ice cap.
These ice ages likely affected the pre-Bahamian limestone, but it
was the final glacial stage—the Wisconsin, occurring between
110,000 and 10,000 years ago—that would have a profound effect
on the island landscape. As the climate cooled, vast quantities of
water that had been locked up by the ice sheets during their glacial
crawl from the north polar regions caused the sea level to fall 350
feet, exposing a great expanse of limestone and reef. The now
emergent limestone was mercilessly subjected to the forces of wind
erosion and chemical weathering that, together, carved the many
small sharp features, caves, sinkholes, and grandiose blue holes
that make up the landscape observed today.

Excerpt from “Chapter 7 – Cape Lopez, Gabon – February 10, 1722”

Jolie Rouge: A Swashbuckling Tale of Adventure and Intrigue by Rick Ley

Excerpt from “Chapter 7 – Cape Lopez, Gabon – February 10, 1722”:

Roberts awoke before dawn and as he lay in his great cabin-room bed,
he listened. Save for the sounds of gently lapping waves, intermittent
rain, and the cries of monkeys and the other night things off in the distance,
an overwhelming silence filled his ears with irrepressible white
noise. The silence was deafening, maddening, and perpetuated the mixed
emotions of anxiety and frustration that had arrested his sleep for much of
the night. The lack of shipside commotion meant two things: that his crew
was either passed out or still too drunk to function properly, and that Lord
Skyrme remained overdue.

He continued to lie in bed and listen for some time, his brain struggling
to fall back to sleep until impatience finally won the war of nerves. Roberts
rousted himself and with a huff, dressed for the weather before going topside.
It was just as well, he thought; his mind was wound so tightly that it
was senseless to further contemplate sleep. There was also nothing he could
do from his quarters until he met Captain Hill, his latest conquest, for
breakfast. Perhaps from the weather deck he would find Skyrme and their
sure-to-be new prize returning from the open sea—now that certainly
would relieve at least some pent-up anxiety and allow him to enjoy his
much anticipated morning victual.

Excerpt from “Chapter 6 – Straits of Florida – Atlantic Ocean”

Jolie Rouge: A Swashbuckling Tale of Adventure and Intrigue by Rick Ley

Excerpt from “Chapter 6 – Straits of Florida – Atlantic Ocean”:

Cat Solomon was awakened early the following morning by the
clanging of silverware and the savory aromas of bacon and freshly
brewed coffee wafting her way from the kitchen. Without bothering to
change out of her nightshirt, she scrunched her feet into a pair of slippers
and shuffled down the hall and into the condo common room. Beyond the
center island countertop Brett was busily making breakfast. Aware of her
presence, he looked up from the skillet in his hands to cheerily announce,
“Good morning, Catherine. I hope that you slept well?”

Cat groggily waved back, yawning. Ruffling fingers through her pillow-
misshapen hair, she shuffled forward and with a smile said, “Oh, I did.”
Another yawn. “You continue to amaze me, Brett,” she added, now looking
over Brett’s shoulder from the same side of the center island. “What did we
do to deserve breakfast? And it smells soo good.”