Author: Alex Beecroft
Cover Artist: n/a
Amazon: Genre: Historical Romance
Length: Novella (83 pages/22k words)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: A lovely little historical by a master of the genre
Kingston, Jamaica, 1752
Robert Hughes, a lieutenant–and rogue–in the British Royal Navy, is in love with his gorgeous fellow officer, Hal Morgan. Hal only has eyes for their captain–a man who’ll never share their inclinations. Night after night aboard the Swiftsure, it kills Robert to listen to Hal’s erotic dreams of a man he can’t possibly have. Determined to protect his friend, Robert stages a seduction.
But Hal demands proof of love before he will submit to the rakish Robert.
Mission accepted. After all, how hard could it be to show what’s inside his heart? Yet Robert’s move to claim Hal’s love leads to the threat of exposure, and mortal danger from the French. Will a heart obsessed ever accept defeat?
Alex Beecroft is a master of writing tales set in the Age of Sail, and His Heart’s Obsession falls in line with the others that I have read by her: flawless writing, obvious research, the pairing of forbidden love with vivid descriptions of life at sea (or in this case, on land as well in the West Indies). While this may not be my favorite of her works, Beecroft did a lot with the small page count, giving us a short story that is primarily character- and emotion-driven with yummy historical angst, some unrequited love, the always-present threat of death as a consequence of discovery, Jamaican colonial life and on-the-seas adventure as frosting on top.
Given the length of the story, I thought both protags are as well-developed and fleshed as they could be, as well as the few secondary characters that grab on-screen time. The port city of Kingston, Jamaica, also comes alive under Beecroft’s electronic pen, as it were, becoming a character in itself.
I enjoyed watching Robert woo Hal, trying to show Hal that he isn’t the baddie that he imagines he is and that his love is real. I did have a few niggles, however. First, I failed to understand why Robert was so in love with Hal. For me, it wasn’t made clear. Additionally, Hal not only loves another, but he has problems with Robert. My concern is that, while Hal did overlook Robert in his obsession with the Captain, he both resents and apparently dislikes Robert for numerous reasons, including Robert having his commission bought for him, his lack of time at sea previous to coming aboard and his education. It seemed unrealistic to me that, even if he lets go of his dream of being with the Captain and Robert proves himself to Hal, he would seemingly so quickly accept what Robert was offering. Hal thinks:
To think, he had had all that within his grasp for years and had ignored it in favour of a phantasm.
yet, what about the issues he has with Robert? They seemed to have disappeared. Perhaps there wasn’t page space to address this, but it was something that bothered me. Other readers may not have the same problem.
Looking for an Age of Sail historical written by an author who does it well? While I had a few niggles, I would recommend picking up His Heart’s Obsession.