The best adventure books with women at sea

Who am I?

From the beginning of my reading journey, I wished for more stories about women who were courageous, passionate, and in control of their own destiny. I wanted to write books for female readers who loved characters like Zorro, Robin Hood, and Jack Sparrow, but wanted to see themselves shining through them. In the process of researching, I discovered unforgettable characters like Captain Mabbot and Clare Sullivan. The Legends of Vioria series focuses on such women, who use their wit and strength to navigate the world. It is my hope to continue to write stories that will inspire others just as the books in this list inspired me. 


I wrote...

Windfall, Legends of Vioria Book #1

By Shawna Barnett,

Book cover of Windfall,  Legends of Vioria Book #1

What is my book about?

With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.

When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law. In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves.

The books I picked & why

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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

By Avi,

Book cover of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Why this book?

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle sparked my interest in seafaring tales. As a young reader, I was drawn in by the deeply personal narration of teenage Charlotte as well as the themes of class and gender. Before this book, I didn’t know that girls could be swashbucklers themselves. It was the gateway that my imagination needed to begin writing my own stories.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

By Avi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Avi's treasured Newbery Honor Book now with exclusive bonus content!

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!A Newbery Honor Book* "A thrilling tale, tautly plotted, vividly narrated." --Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewThirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832. But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a…


Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas

By Morgan Llywelyn,

Book cover of Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas

Why this book?

This fictionalized account of the infamous Grace O’Malley’s life heavily impacted the creation of the main character of Windfall, Captain Liana Foley. I loved how Llywelyn wrote Grace/Grania as a leader, thief, lover, and mother, giving depth to the legendary pirate. She portrays her as equally powerful as she is human.

Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas

By Morgan Llywelyn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grania as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Grania is the basis of the new Broadway muscial The Pirate Queen.

Here is an extraordinary novel about real-life Irish chieftain Grace O Malley. From Morgan Llywelyn, bestselling author of Lion of Ireland and the Irish Century novels, comes the story of a magnificent, sixteenth-century heroine whose spirit and passion are the spirit and passion of Ireland itself.

Grania (Gaelic for Grace) is no ordinary female. And she lives in extraordinary times. For even as Grania rises as her clan's unofficial head and breadwinner and learns to love a man, she enters a lifelong struggle against the English forces of…


Cinnamon and Gunpowder

By Eli Brown,

Book cover of Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Why this book?

Eli Brown’s story is told through travelogues. I was inspired by the love story that blooms between the main character, chef Owen Wedgwood, and Captain Mad Hannah Mabbot. Captain Mabbot captures Wedgewood and forces him to cook for her aboard The Flying Rose. The way that Brown tells the story is equally delicious and creative. 

Cinnamon and Gunpowder

By Eli Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cinnamon and Gunpowder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by a beautiful yet ruthless pirate. He will be spared, Mad Hannah Mabbot tells him, as long as he can conjure an exquisite meal every Sunday from the ship's meager supplies. While Wedgwood attempts to satisfy his captor with feats such as tea-smoked eel and pineapple-banana cider, he realizes that Mabbot herself is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. Yet there is a method to Mabbot's madness,…


Lady Pirate

By Lynsay Sands,

Book cover of Lady Pirate

Why this book?

I read this book when I was looking for inspiration on pirate romance. Instead, Captain Valoree Ainsley’s debacles with her rascal crew, set up the dynamic between Captain Foley and her crew in Windfall. I loved the humor of this book and would highly recommend it for a fun and romantic read. 

Lady Pirate

By Lynsay Sands,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lady Pirate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Valoree no longer has to masquerade as her murdered brother and scourge the oceans as Captain Red. She no longer has to command his pirate band in a quest to regain his birthright. She has been named heir to Ainsley Castle. But no executor would ever hand over the estate to an unmarried pirate wench and her infamous crew-no matter to whom she'd been born. And the will distinctly states that in order to inherit, Valoree must be married to a nobleman ...and pregnant. Upon learning that, the virgin captain is ready to return to the seas-but her crew has…


Captured

By Beverly Jenkins,

Book cover of Captured

Why this book?

Captive is another romance with pirates and passion. It’s part of a larger series featuring the LeVeq family. In this story, privateer Dominic LeVeq, frees and falls for slave Clare Sullivan. Soon they become desperate to have each other. I loved the relationship between these two characters and the devotion that develops between them.  

Captured

By Beverly Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Captured as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a high-stakes historical romance from award-winning romance author Beverly Jenkins.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Pirates, Ireland, and African Americans?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Pirates, Ireland, and African Americans.

Pirates Explore 58 books about Pirates
Ireland Explore 170 books about Ireland
African Americans Explore 509 books about African Americans

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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