Title: Captain’s Surrender
Author: Alex Beecroft
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Historical M/M, Action/Adventure, Age of Sail
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Love? Might as well ask for the moon. But a man can dream…
Despite his looks and ambition, Midshipman Joshua Andrews hides urges that, in his world, makeh im an abomination. Living in fear of exposure, unnecessary risk is something he studiously avoids. Once he sets eyes on the elegant picture of perfection that is Peter Kenyon, though, temptation lures him like the siren call of the sea.
Soon to be promoted to captain, Peter is the darling of the Bermuda garrison, with a string of successes behind him and a suitable bride lined up to share his future. He seems completely out of Joshua’s reach.
Then the two men are forced to serve on a long voyage under a sadistic commander with a mutinous crew. As the tension aboard the vessel heats up, their unexpected friendship intensifies into a passion neither man can rein in.
Intimacy like theirs can only exist in the shadow of the gallows. Both men are determined their “youthful curiosity” must die before it brings disaster down on them. Yet neither man can root it from his heart. Warriors both, they think nothing of risking their lives for their country. In the end they must decide whether love, too, is worth dying for.
The year is 1779 and if you are serving on a ship in this era the Captain is God, or at least he thinks and acts like a deity. The Nimrod’s tyrannical Captain is pretty horrible by all accounts. He wants every man on board ship to know he controls their very lives by terrorizing and beating his crew into submission; if any of them fail to give him the absolute obedience he demands they pay the ultimate price. The first scene in the book is horrific – a hanging that the Captain makes everyone watch, even the youngest members of the crew who are barely into their teens. The sin for which the poor sailor is hanged is sodomy, which is punishable by death. But fear not, the story gets a little more upbeat from here on with the arrival on board the Nimrod of the new First Lieutenant, Peter Kenyon.
When Peter meets midshipman Josh Andrews for the first time it is not earth shattering lust immediately and they start out as friends, but Josh does fall hopelessly in love with his roommate whom the Captain very cleverly puts in Josh’s sights as bait. He suspects Josh’s sexual orientation and hopes to catch him in the act so that he can have the pleasure of another hanging. The relationship between the two men starts off very slowly as both are afraid of the consequences, if caught, and in addition, Peter does not believe that he is gay while Josh is absolutely sure of his own sexual orientation. There is no action between the sheets until half way into the book and for me to become so immersed in a story about men at sea is testament to the writer’s skill in weaving such a wonderful tale. The unspoken understanding and caring between Peter and Josh with just heated glances as they embark on their romance was wonderfully done and for Peter it was a step into unchartered waters.
In the masterful telling of this tale Alex Beecroft made me believe that I was actually on the Nimrod riding the waves with those unhappy midshipmen. The sustained beatings for minor misdemeanors may have been brutal but I suppose they were historically accurate for the era and made the story authentic. What really impressed me was the amount of painstaking detail in the book about every aspect of life on board the Nimrod, and I found it remarkable that the writer did not shy away from the blood and gore. Since I’m not an expert on the period I could not judge its accuracy but it seemed real to me – Alex Beecroft must have done an incredible amount of research to make this book feel as genuine as it did.
It is difficult to believe that this is Ms Beecroft’s first book as she is a mistress at the art of world building and she set the stage wonderfully for our two protagonists. WOW! I have lost my ability to articulate, or to put it simply, words fail me. Captain’s Surrender shattered any preconceived biases or notions I might have had about historical romances, particularly those involving men at sea, as I was absolutely captivated and transported to the Age of Sail. The characterizations were very realistic although I loved Josh more than Peter who seemed a bit dim and selfish when it came to matters of the heart. The author also uses the minor characters in a way I have seldom seen and they add to the story rather than detract from it, as at times I was able to glimpse the action through their eyes.
There is not much sex in the book, instead this is a true action adventure and a “romance” in every sense of the word – from the first meeting between Peter and Josh, through their fumbling attempts at sex, separations, war, serious injury and ultimatums.
Captain’s Surrender surpasses genre – it is a superb story that would rank up there with any mainstream book, and the story is what drew me in and kept me enthralled until the very last page.
Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore or e-book retailer to purchase a copy of Captain’s Surrender.
For those readers who would like a bit more sex in the book there is a free story called Insubordination on Ms Beecroft’s website which details the further sexual adventures of Josh and Peter.
Captain’s Surrender has been reissued by Samhain Publishing and is available October 2nd. I have updated my original review of this book (written in July 2008) to celebrate the new cover.:)