When a suitor robs her of her innocence, Sophie Bellard vows never to be intimate with a man again, and is more interested in sailing the high seas. But her pirate father refuses to train her as one of his own captains. Instead, to gain protection for her, he blackmails the Commandant of all pirates, Louis Dubois, into marrying his son, Andre, to Sophie.
The wedding takes place. Andre flies into a rage when he discovers his lovely new wife is not a virgin. He repudiates Sophie and refuses to finish the marriage act. He returns to the priest and demands an annulment before heading off to the Orient.
Sophie’s father dies of a heart attack, leaving his entire pirate holdings to her. Sophie storms her new father-in-law’s home, demanding training as a pirate and a ship of her own from him, the Commandant. Louis agrees.
Meanwhile, Andre sails to the island of Formosa. Content with his annulment, he returns to his former behavior and has an affair with a comely Asian woman. He is unaware that she is the pregnant wife of the murderous pirate who took by force the Formosa territory years ago.
Zheng returns to his compound while Andre is with his wife. Andre attempts escape and is captured. His crew, however, stages an elaborate rescue maneuver before Andre is drawn and quartered. Wisely deciding to leave Formosa, Andre turns his ship homeward.
While Andre is gone, Sophie becomes a pirate captain. She pillages and plunders the Caribbean. The crew Louis Dubois chose for her is fiercely loyal, no one more so than Sophie’s eighteen-year-old first mate, Limey, who fancies himself in love with his young captain.
Sophie and Andre cross paths ten months after their aborted wedding night. Sophie fires on her husband’s ship and insolently boards it. When Andre realizes it’s his wife who ordered the shot, they have heated words and sparks fly. In a bold attempt to get back into her bed, Andre threatens to take away her pirate lifestyle unless she sleeps with him. In retaliation, Sophie pulls her sword and tells him she won’t let him rape her.
Now Andre realizes she wasn’t a virgin on their wedding night because she was previously raped. He abruptly changes tactics, suggesting she allow him to woo her. Sophie tells him he can try, but it won’t work.
Once in New Orleans, Andre begins his unusual courtship of Sophie, and their mutual attraction sizzles. He is no longer sure of the annulment he still carries.
Zheng has sent out assassins to hunt Andre down and kill him, as well as Sophie. Taking heed, Andre beaches Sophie’s ship without her consent, or even an explanation.
Limey, privy to Andre’s philandering in the Orient, tells his captain to find out why she is practically a prisoner on her husband’s ship. Sophie does so, and becomes incensed at the news that Andre flouted their marriage vows.
Now falling more and more under his bride’s spell, Andre scrambles to make amends. He shows her the annulment. They sail to a remote island and he takes Sophie ashore. Here they clear the air and eventually succumb to the desire they’ve been dancing around these past few months. What follows is a steamy interlude under a waterfall at the island oasis, where Sophie eventually tears up the annulment paper.
Limey decides to resign as Sophie’s first mate. He approaches Andre and requests to go ashore at their next port, but a gunshot interrupts their discussion. Sophie has been gut-shot by a young boy Limey had brought aboard.
Andre shoots and kills the boy, who was really Zheng’s hired assassin. A frantic search for Sophie ensues but she is lost to the ocean’s depths. Andre accuses Limey of bringing the young killer on board, and throws the Brit off the Jade Princess when they reach Tortuga.
Andre and his father decide to sail to Formosa to avenge Sophie’s death. Limey has returned to New Orleans and finagled his way into Louis Dubois’s employ. The trip to the Orient is fraught with trouble between the two men.
At last they reach the secret harbor on Formosa, and are met by a female army led by Formosa’s deposed leader’s widow. Using some of the female warriors as concubines, Andre and Limey travel to the cutthroat’s compound disguised as the women’s “handlers.” They infiltrate the place.
Andre and Zheng face off in a duel to the death, during which Andre finds out Zheng beheaded his pregnant wife for her deception. Stunned, Andre slips and falls. At the last second he somersaults away and slices through Zheng’s tendons. The butcher dies a bloody death, and Sophie’s murder is vindicated. But she is still dead.
After the celebrations of their victory, Andre is approached by one of Zheng’s reluctant followers. He tells Andre that while in the Caribbean recently he heard the tale of a Woman Without a Past. She was rescued at sea with no recollection of how she got there. Positive that this woman is indeed Sophie, Andre and his crew raise anchor and head back to the Caribbean.
Andre does find Sophie, residing with a fisherman and his family. After a touching reunion where Andre professes his love to her, he is dismayed when he realizes Sophie has amnesia from her fall off the ship. They return to the Jade Princess, and begin to get to know each other all over again.
Eventually Sophie’s memory returns, but Andre is afraid to make love to her. He thinks she is still too frail from her ordeal. He loves her so much he’d rather be a husband in name only than injure her and possibly lose her forever. It isn’t until they return to Louis’s house in New Orleans that Sophie realizes this and sets out to seduce her husband. He is no match for her persuasion and they are at last united in body and soul.