Captain's Surrender
by Alex Beecroft, historical (2009, reissue)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-762-1

Captain's Surrender was actually quite recently published by Linden Bay Romance. Since Samhain Publishing has acquired Linden Bay Romance, this book gets a reissue with a beautiful cover, and just in time too, since this author is enjoying her time in the sun as one of the authors of historical gay romances at the time of writing. I'm not sure whether this book has been revised in any way from the previous edition. The official word is that this current version has been "re-edited", whatever that means.

Set in 1779, this one introduces acting lieutenant Joshua Andrews, a midshipman who likes looking at men's dangling bits too much for what the folks of his time would consider normal manly behavior. Watching a man hanged under the order of his captain for the sin of accepting another man's intimate embrace would surely drive any twenty-year old gay lad back into the closet, so poor Josh does not need the complications caused of handsome Lt Peter Kenyon's arrival onboard the Nimrod and into his life. While the nights are cold and lonely, Captain Walker does not tolerate any hanky-panky sodomy on his ship and the repercussions could be severe indeed. What are our poor lovebirds to do?

The above summary doesn't actually cover the emotional richness that permeates this story like... I don't know, heady ambergris or something, if I want to be a poet. On Joshua's part, there is his desire that wars with the perception that his desire is unnatural. The poor fellow is so conflicted, wanting to love yet so scared to love, that he is a pretty compelling tortured character to follow. Peter seems at first to be a typical straight-acting jock stereotype, but as the story progresses, he evolves into a more complicated and fascinating character. Impressively enough, the setting feels very real and well-drawn, with the very real fear of discovery and subsequent death sentence that awaits always hanging over our lovebirds' more tender moments like a sword that will fall at any moment.

The thing is, I would probably enjoy this one better if I hadn't read False Colors first. While the two stories are not entirely similar, the central theme of both stories, the setting, and some superficial similarities between the personalities of the characters here and that of the characters in the other book all come together to keep getting me to compare this book to that one. As much as I enjoy this well-written and emotionally rich story of a forbidden love on the decks, therefore, I also can't help thinking that I like False Colors more because it has everything this one has and then a little bit more.

Rating: 81

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