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James Keffer was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1963, the son of a city policeman and a nurse. He grew up loving basketball, baseball, tennis, and books. He graduated high school in 1981 and attended Youngstown State University to study mechanical engineering.
James left college in 1984 to enter the United States Air Force. After basic training, he was posted to the 2143rd Communications Squadron at Zweibruecken Air Base, West Germany. While he was stationed there, he met and married his wife, Christine, whose father was also assigned to the base. Zweibruecken Air Base closed in 1991, and James and Christine were transferred up the road to Sembach Air Base. He worked in communications for the 2134th Communications Squadron, then became the LAN manager for HQ 17th Air Force.
James received an honorable discharge in 1995, and he and his wife moved to Florida to attend Trinity Baptist College. He graduated with honors in 1998, earning a bachelor of arts degree. James currently lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife and three children.
Brewer and the Portuguese Gold
Newly promoted to captain, William Brewer is tasked to serve and defend British interests in the waters off Brazil. But who defines what constitutes Britain’s Interests? Portugal’s former colony is declaring independence, and an independent Brazil might better serve Britain’s economic development. King George, however, chooses to support Portugal’s monarch and his efforts to retain the colony. At the very least, Portugal’s king wants to retrieve the royal treasury that was sent to Brazil for safekeeping during the Napoleonic wars. So British ships are sent to support Portugal’s interests, even when many of the captains—and even more of the crewmen—are more than sympathetic towards Brazil. The age of sail is nearing its zenith: ships are faster, navies wield more influence, and modernizations are improving shipboard life. But Brewer is inheriting a ship whose previous captain exercised brutal control over his men until crew members mutinied against him. No less a personage than Admiral Hornblower is hoping Brewer can restore morale before it’s too late. But it may already be too late, at least for some. And it certainly doesn’t make Brewer’s job any easier when a renegade British officer takes it upon himself to champion Brazil’s cause. Admiral Cochrane audaciously sets out to recruit disgruntled British sailors for the new Brazilian Navy—at a much higher rate of pay! At the risk of starting a war with Brazil, a small fleet of British ships led by Admiral Hardy is tasked with spiriting away a royal fortune in Portuguese gold across the pirate-ridden waters of the Atlantic. It will take the combined ingenuity and skill of Brewer, his officers and crew to even have a chance of accomplishing their mission.
Brewer and the Barbary Pirates
It is said that a man is grown by his past, and so it was with William Brewer. Before he took command of HMS Defiant in a hurricane and before he hunted pirates in HMS Revenge, Brewer endured a crucible of fire that molded him into the legend he became. Fresh from the tutelage of Napoleon Bonaparte on St. Helena, Brewer signs on for a cruise under Captain Bush on HMS Lydia to the Mediterranean to battle the Barbary Pirates. Here Brewer learns to fight, but he also learns what it means to command men in battle and what it takes to order men to their deaths. Their enemy is a Scottish renegade who is responsible for the deaths of dozens of his fellow sailors over the years and the selling of hundreds of Europeans into African slavery. Along the way, Brewer is introduced to new heroes and new devils. He also receives sage advice from no less than the Duke of Wellington himself. In the end, Brewer has to use all he’s learned—not to mention going beyond all that—to save HMS Lydia from total destruction at the hands of pirates.
Admiral Horatio Hornblower has given Commander William Brewer captaincy of the captured pirate sloop El Dorado. Now under sail as the HMS Revenge, its new name suits Brewer’s frame of mind perfectly. He lost many of his best men in the engagement that seized the ship, and his new orders are to hunt down the pirates who have been ravaging the trade routes of the Caribbean sea. But Brewer will face more than one challenge before he can confront the pirate known as El Diabolito. His best friend and ship’s surgeon, Dr. Spinelli, is taking dangerous solace in alcohol as he wrestles with demons of his own. The new purser, Mr. Allen, may need a lesson in honest accounting. Worst of all, Hornblower has requested that Brewer take on a young ne’er-do-well, Noah Simmons, to remove him from a recent scandal at home. At twenty-three, Simmons is old to be a junior midshipman, and as a wealthy man’s son he is unaccustomed to working, taking orders, or suffering privations. William Brewer will need to muster all his resources to ready his crew for their confrontation with the Caribbean’s most notorious pirate. In the process, he’ll discover the true price of command.
After gaining valuable experience as an aide to Governor Lord Horatio Hornblower, William Brewer is rewarded with a posting as first lieutenant on the frigate HMS Defiant, bound for American waters. Early in their travels, it seems as though Brewer’s greatest challenge will be evading the wrath of a tyrannical captain who has taken an active dislike to him. But when a hurricane sweeps away the captain, the young lieutenant is forced to assume command of the damaged ship, and a crew suffering from low morale.Brewer reports their condition to Admiral Hornblower, who orders them into the Caribbean to destroy a nest of pirates hidden among the numerous islands. Luring the pirates out of their coastal lairs will be difficult enough; fighting them at sea could bring disaster to the entire operation. For the Defiant to succeed, Brewer must rely on his wits, his training, and his ability to shape a once-ragged crew into a coherent fighting force.
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