Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Captain's Surrender by Alex Beecroft

TITLE: Captain’s Surrender
AUTHOR: Alex Beecroft
PUBLISHER: Linden Bay Romance
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 60k)
GENRE: Gay historical romance
COST: $6.99

Midshipman Joshua Andrews knows his lustful desires for other men will have him hanged should anyone discover the truth, but from the moment he lays eyes on First Lieutenant Peter Kenyon, his heart is lost. He maintains the utmost of professionalism, though the two become friends under a brutal captain many would like to see fed to the sharks. When tensions run high onboard the Nimrod, everything about their world changes. It’s up to them whether or not they can survive, and whether or not they wish to survive together.

As far as recreating a historical setting and putting you into the middle of the action, Captain’s Surrender is at the top of its class. There is no denying the author’s knowledge on her subject matter. The detail is dense and evocative, calling to mind some of the classics I studied in college. When she writes a battle between two ships, as a reader you are right in the thick of the action. You can hear the roar of men and cannons, and smell the blood and sulfur. This is, by far, the novel’s greatest strength. The author has created a world of honor and seamen, and submerged you within it, right from the very first page.

Curiously, one of the other novel’s strengths has left me divided emotionally. She incorporates multiple POVs throughout her storytelling – one chapter will be from Josh’s perspective, one from Peter’s, another from Summersgill, the Englishman riding aboard the Nimrod. On one hand, this helps to both make the world even more vivid and to flesh out what might otherwise be flat, background characters. On the other, it ended up giving me distance from the two male protagonists so that I couldn't better get involved with their romance. Of the first 10 chapters, only 3 are actually in the perspective of either Josh or Peter. In fact, we get 3 chapters alone in each of Summersgill’s head and his daughter Emily’s. While it engages me with the overall action and thrust of the story, it keeps me from really understanding either Josh or Peter, or gaining more than a passing sympathy for them. My feelings for Emily and her father are as strong, if not stronger, by that point, and that, inevitably, holds me back from investing more in the romance.

I have to admit, the other thing that held me back was Josh’s over-effusiveness when he first sees Peter in the first chapter. He has decided, by the end of the chapter, that he’s in love with the man, though he’s barely said a word to him. It’s difficult for me to take love at first sight seriously anyway, but this is hindered by the lack of insight into Josh’s thoughts (we don’t get his perspective again until chapter 7).

Overall, though, the book is a solid read. Though the romance in and of itself didn’t resonate emotionally for me as well as it probably could have, there was enough meat in the rest of the arc to keep me entertained, and to care about everyone, not just the two heroes.


9/10 – Dense, evocative prose.

Hero #1

6/10 – Proud and honorable, but a little too self-righteous for my tastes

Hero #2

6/10 – Competent and likeable though his highly emotional inner thoughts when we finally got them felt over the top for me

Entertainment value

7/10 – A solid read, I only wish I could have engaged with the romance more.

World building

10/10 – Superlative detail that makes you smell the salt.



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