Wrenched by tragedy from a peaceful and respectable middle-class home in Victorian London, Hannah Kemball finds herself accompanying her father, Captain “Cracker Jack” Kemball, aboard the tea-clipper Erl King on a voyage to China.
It is 1869. In shanghai and Foochow, the crack British tea-clippers are loading the season's tea, preparing for the annual race to bring their valuable cargoes and the fortunes of their swaggering crews halfway around the world to the London market.
Unfortunately for Hannah, only one thing matters t the iron-willed captains about to pit their skills against the perils of three oceans: to be the first to make it home. Overconfident of victory, Captain Kemball strikes a wager with the sinister Captain Richards of the Seawitch. The stakes: Hannah's hand in marriage.
The race is on, and as the sails unfurl, so do the dangers for Hannah aboard her father's ship. As the fastest sailing vessels ever built storm across the world's oceans, she learns that this is a race with no rules, and that murder, mayhem and deceit are all part of the game.