Title: Captain’s Surrender
Author: Alex Beecroft
Genre: GLBT (M/M) Historical, Action/Adventure
Publisher: Linden Bay Romance
Publisher URL: http://www.lindenbayromance.com
Rating: 5 LYRES RECOMMENDED READ
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 who the boss is 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 my hearties 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 the story without any overt sex is testament to the writer’s skill in weaving such a wonderful tale of men at sea. 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 true of the era and made the story more 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 – the author 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 sets the stage wonderfully for our two protagonists. 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. Peter is determined to marry a suitable woman who would bear his children, and he does not understand how much he is hurting Josh. When he almost loses him in battle he realizes how much Josh really means to him. The author 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.
For the genre there is not a whole lot of sex in the book, instead it is a true action adventure and a romance in every sense of the word – from the first meeting between the Peter and Josh, through their fumbling attempts at sex, separations, war, serious injury and ultimatums. There is so much more to the book but I would be a spoiler if I elaborated any further.
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 kept me enthralled until the very last page. It would be remiss of me not to add my voice to others who decried the awful cover with which this book was saddled and I hope that future stories by this author will be given better treatment.
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 the Linden Bay and Ms Beecroft’s websites which detail the further sexual adventures of our heroes.