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Rachel Rueckert | If the Tide Turns (Taylor’s Version)

If the Tide Turns
Rachel Rueckert




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April 2024
On Sale: March 26, 2024
Featuring: Maria Brown; Samuel Bellamy
368 pages
ISBN: 1496747534
EAN: 9781496747532
Kindle: B0C9VWQBNG
Paperback / e-Book
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Also by Rachel Rueckert:
If the Tide Turns, April 2024
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Pirates are having a pop culture moment, 300 years after the Golden Age of Pirates. My debut historical novel, IF THE TIDE TURNS—a true forbidden love story between real-life pirate Sam Bellamy and a suspected witch named Maria—inspired a surprising fusion with another pop culture sensation: Taylor Swift.


May I present, If the Tide Turns (Taylor’s Version)


Song 1: “ . . . Ready For It” by Taylor Swift

The prologue of If the Tide Turns opens with the haunting voice of Maria:


I know every spine of this shore, and the woman whose voice cries and curses whenever storms hammer the bone-white sand where lie the remains of the Whydah and her treasure, her crew.

I know something of ghosts, including some who had the au­dacity to survive.


Or, as Taylor might put it:


But if he's a ghost, then I can be a phantom
Holdin' him for ransom


After this introduction, the reader jumps into the story.


Song 2: “Seven” by Taylor Swift

In Chapter 1, we immediately meet Maria, the restless daughter of a wealthy Cape Cod farmer who desires to marry Maria off to an undesirable widower. In the opening scene, she sneaks off to teach herself how to swim—a scandalous activity for a young woman, especially just twenty years after the Salem witch trials. As Maria reflects:


It would be a shame to spend a life by the sea and never prop­erly venture into it. She had always felt so. Such wild vastness, possibility and danger. Adventure and misadventure. Everything she shouldn’t feel drawn to as a girl.


Her wistful musings exude the same vibes as “Seven” when Maria, a seventeen-year-old bucking at constraints of her time, reflects on the costs of civility. Taylor describes this as:

Please picture me in the weeds
Before I learned civility


But, as the best stories go, someone else will soon catch Maria’s eye. This is foreshadowed in Taylor’s line:


I think you should come live with me

And we can be pirates

Then you won't have to cry

Or hide in the closet


“Just like a folksong,” the true love story between Sam and Maria was passed like a folksong for 300 years. Everyone in Cape Cod knows the tale, but I can’t wait for others to learn about them with my book’s publication.


Song 3: “New Romantics” by Taylor Swift

Not only does this song have an allusion to “scarlet letters,” the lyrics also underscore the theme of freedom established by Chapter 8. By now, Sam and Maria have met. Sam has recently been kicked out of the British navy, along with hundreds of thousands of other sailors now that the War of Spanish Succession has ended. Sam and Maria are sneaking off together while he teaches her how to swim. Their conversations and chemistry deepen, and Sam finally confronts Maria about her true motives for this scandalous activity:


“True freedom means living the life you want to live, not the life others have decided for you . . . No one can decide what freedom means for someone else,” Sam shouted over his shoulder. But he knew a free soul when he met one.


Taylor would agree with Sam:


The best people in life are free.


Song 4: “august” by Taylor Swift

After a whirlwind romance, Sam and Maria approach her father for permission to marry at the end of the summer. They are living “for the hope of it all.” No amount of sincere words persuade Maria’s father that a poor sailor is worthy of his daughter. A dramatic fallout leads Sam into a moment of despair and rage. In Taylor’s words,


August sipped away like a bottle of wine
'Cause you were never mine


Song 5: “Getaway Car” by Taylor Swift

Before leaving Cape Cod, he vows to return with a ship full of gold. This, he believes, will allow him to marry maria. Sam turns into a reluctant pirate when his treasure hunting schemes go awry and he and desperate, fellow crewmates have to repay a debt.


In one foolish move, Sam joins up with the infamous privateer Henry Jennings. Jennings is the very definition of cruel. At the opportune moment, Sam defies Jennings and betrays the vile man. This is described perfectly in Taylor’s words:


I wanted to leave him, I needed a reason.


The rest of the book follows Sam’s career in piracy and quest to return for Maria. All of this parallel’s Maria’s tumultuous journey of keeping true to Sam and, more importantly, herself despite nearly unfathomable circumstances—all of which is based on a true story.



If the Tide Turns Vault Tracks

Like any Swiftie worth her sea salt, this exercise only expanded my excitement. What resulted:

  • This Spotify playlist for If the Tide Turns, organized chapter-by-chapter
  • A “treasure map” of key lyrics and Easter eggs for anyone who wants to dive deeper, included here:



  • Song: . . . Ready For It?
  • Key Lyric: “But if he’s a ghost, then I can be a phantom / Holdin’ him for ransom”


Chapter 1

  • Song: Seven
  • Key Lyric: “Please picture me in the weeds / Before I learned civility”


Chapter 2

  • Song: Willow
  • Key Lyric: “They count me out time and time again.”


Chapter 3

  • Song: Jump Then Fall
  • Key Lyric: “Don’t be afraid to jump then fall”


Chapter 4

  • Song: Enchanted
  • Key Lyric: “My thoughts will echo your name / Until I see you again”


Chapter 5

  • Song: Everything Has Changed
  • Key Lyric: “And meet me there”


Chapter 6

  • Song: Cruel Summer
  • Key Lyric: “I’m always waiting . . . what doesn’t kill me makes me want you more”


Chapter 7

  • Song: illicit affairs
  • Key Lyric: “You’ll be flushed when you return / Take the road less traveled by”


Chapter 8

  • Song: Slut
  • Key Lyric: “I’ll pay the price, you won’t”
  • Bonus Track: New Romantics
  • Key Lyric: “The best people in life are free.”


Chapter 9

  • Song: A Place in this World
  • Key Lyric: “I don’t know what I want / So don’t ask me”
  • Bonus Track: False God
  • Key Lyric: “Religion’s in your lips / Even if it’s a false god”


Chapter 10

  • Song: You Are In Love
  • Key Lyric: “You fight, then you talk”


Chapter 11

  • Bonus Track: The Lakes
  • Key Lyric: “I don’t belong”


Chapter 12

  • Song: Daylight
  • Key Lyric: “I’ve been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night”


Chapter 13

  • Song: Sweet Nothing
  • Key Lyric: “You say ‘What a mind.’”
  • Bonus Track: Treacherous
  • Key Lyric: “eye to eye / ‘Till the gravity’s too much”

Chapter 14

  • Song: Love Story
  • Key Lyric: “My faith in you was fading / When I met you on the outskirts of town”
  • Bonus Track: august
  • Key Lyric: “August slipped away like a moment in time”


Chapter 15

  • Song: Run
  • Key Lyric: “I’ll wait for you”


Chapter 16

  • Song: Gold Rush
  • Key Lyric: “ships on waters / So inviting”


Chapter 17

  • Song: Mad Woman
  • Key Lyric: “Women like hunting witches too . . . No one likes a mad woman”
  • Bonus Track: Call it What You Want To
  • Key Lyric: “I did one thing right”


Chapter 18

  • Song: I Knew You Were Trouble
  • Key Lyric: “when he’s next to me . . . I realize the blame is on me”

Chapter 19

  • Song: Afterglow
  • Key Lyric: “Punished you with silence”


Chapter 20

  • Song: Getaway Car
  • Key Lyric: “I wanted to leave him, I needed a reason”


Chapter 21

  • Song: peace
  • Key Lyric: “Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?”


Chapter 22

  • Song: End Game
  • Key Lyric: “Big reputation . . . you heard about me / Ooh, I got some big enemies”


Chapter 23

  • Song: Wonderland
  • Key Lyric: “But there were strangers watching / And whispers turned to talking / And talking turned to screams”


Chapter 24

  • Song: Vigilante Shit
  • Key Lyric: “They say looks can kill and I might try”


Chapter 25

  • Song: Cold As You
  • Key Lyric: “I’m not what you wanted”
  • Bonus Track: ivy
  • Key Lyric: “He’s in the room / Your opal eyes are all I wish to see”


Chapter 26

  • Song: Message in a Bottle
  • Key Lyric: “Standing here, hoping it gets to you”


Chapter 27

  • Song: Safe and Sound
  • Key Lyric: “Hold on to this lullaby”


Chapter 28

  • Song: epiphany
  • Key Lyric: “Sir, I think he’s bleeding out”


Chapter 29

  • Song: Bigger Than the Whole Sky
  • Key Lyric: “No words appear before me in the aftermath”


Chapter 30

  • Song: Never Grow Up
  • Key Lyric: “Don’t you ever grow up, it could stay this simple”


Chapter 31

  • Song: Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve
  • Key Lyric: “And I damn sure never would’ve danced with the devil”


Chapter 32

  • Song: Bad Blood
  • Key Lyric: “Remember when you tried to write me off?”


Chapter 33

  • Song: I Did Something Bad
  • Key Lyric: “They’re burning all the witches even if you aren’t one”


Chapter 34

  • Song: Maroon
  • Key Lyric: “The rubies that I gave up”
  • Bonus Track: Haunted
  • Key Lyric: “I still mean every word I said to you”


Chapter 35

  • Song: Look What You Made Me Do
  • Key Lyric: “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time”


Chapter 36

  • Song: The Great War
  • Key Lyric: “All that bloodshed”


Chapter 37

  • Song: Carolina
  • Key Lyric: “It’s between me, the sand, and the sea”


Chapter 38

  • Song: exile
  • Key Lyric: “So what am I defending now?”


Chapter 39

  • Song: Out of the Woods
  • Key Lyric: “Are we in the clear yet?”


Chapter 40

  • Song: hoax
  • Key Lyric: “My smoking gun”


Chapter 41

  • Song: You’re Not Sorry
  • Key Lyric: “Don’t wanna hurt anymore”
  • Song: Forever & Always (Piano Version)
  • Key Lyric: “Here’s to silence that cuts me to the core”


Chapter 42

  • Song: my tears ricochet
  • Key Lyric: “I can go anywhere I want / Anywhere I want, just not home”


Chapter 43

  • Song: Clean
  • Key Lyric: “when I was drowning / That’s when I could finally breathe”


Chapter 44

  • Song: Untouchable
  • Key Lyric: “And now that you’re close”


Chapter 45

  • Song: You’re On Your Own Kid
  • Key Lyric: “Everything you lose is a step you take”


Chapter 46

  • Song: Say Don’t Go
  • Key Lyric: “I would stay forever’”


Chapter 47

  • Song: This Love
  • Key Lyric: “In silent dreams / In silent screams / I never dreamed of this”


Chapter 48

  • Song: evermore
  • Key Lyric: “I’m on waves, out being tossed”


Chapter 49

  • Song: Beautiful Ghosts
  • Key Lyric: “I know that this life isn’t safe / But it’s wild and it’s free”


Chapter 50

  • Song: Innocent
  • Key Lyric: “If only you had seen what you know now”


Chapter 51

  • Song: All You Had to Do Was Stay
  • Key Lyric: “I’ve been pickin’ up the pieces / Of the mess you made”
  • Bonus Track: The Archer
  • Key Lyric: “I’m ready for combat”


Chapter 52

  • Song: I Know Places
  • Key Lyric: “in the dead of night, your eyes so green”



  • Song: Karma
  • Key Lyric: “karma is the thunder / Rattlin’ your ground”


Author’s Note

  • Song: Dear Reader
  • Key Lyric: “The greatest of luxuries is your secrets”

IF THE TIDE TURNS by Rachel Rueckert

If the Tide Turns

Set during the Golden Age of Pirates and the shadowy aftermath of the Salem witch trials, this vivid literary debut is inspired by the captivating true story of real-life pirate Samuel Bellamy, combining high seas adventure, star-crossed longing, surprisingly timely questions about social justice and freedom, and the emotionally satisfying tale of one strong-willed young woman determined to choose her own path…

1715, Eastham, Massachusetts: As the daughter of a wealthy family, Maria Brown has a secure future mapped out for her, yet it is not the future she wants. Young, headstrong, and restless, Maria has no desire to marry the aging, mean-spirited John Hallett, regardless of his fortune and her parents’ wishes. As for what Maria does want—only one person has ever even asked her that question.

Samuel Bellamy, an orphaned sailor searching for work, meets Maria by chance, enthralling her with talk of far-flung places and blasphemous ideals. But neither is free from the social order into which they were born. When Sam is banished from Maria’s parents’ home after asking for her hand, he vows to return a wealthy man, and Maria promises to keep the faith until then.

Sam is drawn into piracy and discovers a brotherhood more equal and fulfilling than any on land, despite its dangers. Beguiled by the chance to both fight for justice and make a fortune to bring home to Maria, Sam is torn between duty to his crew and his desire to return. Separated by more than just the ocean, time slips by as Sam and Maria cling to their love for each other. Maria is determined to stay strong in her conviction in Sam, but as rumors swirl and her position in Eastham turns perilous, Maria is forced into an impossible decision.

In parallel journeys—deeply individual, though inseparably bound—Sam and Maria must confront the questions: What are the limits of change and the price of true freedom? And where does treasure really lie?


Romance Historical | Historical [Kensington, On Sale: March 26, 2024, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496747532 / eISBN: 9781496747549]

Buy IF THE TIDE TURNSAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Walmart.com | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Rachel Rueckert

Rachel Rueckert

Rachel Rueckert is an award-winning writer, editor, and teacher who holds an MFA from Columbia University and an M.Ed. from Boston University. On her first visit to Provincetown, Massachusetts, she learned about the true story of Anne Bonny, Mary Read and Samuel Bellamy and vowed to write their story, returning to Cape Cod again and again over the years for research and freedom in the shape of solace. If the Tide Turns is her debut novel. She splits her time between Salt Lake City and Cambridge, Massachusetts.





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