1762, The Georgian Age of Sail: For his first command, John Cavendish is given a ship—the HMS Meteor—and a crew, both in need of repair and discipline. He’s determined to make a success of their first mission, and hopes the well-liked lieutenant Alfred Donwell will stand by his side as he leads his new crew into battle: stopping the slave trade off the coast of Algiers.
Alfie knows their mission is futile, and that their superiors back in England will use the demise of this crew as impetus for war with the Ottoman Empire. But the darker secret he keeps is his growing attraction for his commanding officer—a secret punishable by death.
With the arrival of his former captain—and lover—on the scene of the disastrous mission, Alfie is torn between the security of his past and the uncertain promise of a future with the straight-laced John.
Against a backdrop of war, intrigue, and personal betrayal, the high seas will carry these men through dangerous waters from England to Africa to the West Indies in search of a safe harbor.
I had a nice chat on Twitter with the author after September’s #WizardBBC book chat1, and I went looking for her books on Scribd afterwards because another club member recommended them to me. I adore historical romance2 and I especially adore anything set in the Age of Sail. False Colors had a picture of two sailors and a historical ship on the cover; I was in, even before I read the summary.
After the first couple of chapters I thought I could see the direction the story would take. Y’know, experienced underling seduces inexperience superior, they have lots of sexy times while the superior comes to grips with his gayness and then they live happily ever after.
It kinda went that way, but not really. There was a huge detour and much heartache and betrayal and yes, John came to grips with his gayness but he didn’t do it because he had any sexy times with Alfie. And Alfie had to come to grips with some stuff, too! (Namely, befriending someone only because you want to get into their pants is not a good thing to do.)
They both had a lot of growing to do, and they did it while dealing with pirates and cannibals and beatings and kidnappings and court marshals and dead boyfriends and wow, I know that all sounds super melodramatic but it’s actually very soulful and heart-wrenching. A few times I wasn’t even sure if they’d be able to get to their HEA! But they did, even if it took them about 300 more pages to do so than I originally expected.
I suppose it’s not your typical romance3 but I very much enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading Alex Beecroft’s other books.
Read: October 11, 2014
I did not even talk about the worldbuilding or the other characters, but it’s all SO GREAT. It’s obvious AB did a lot of research and it pays off big; it all felt very real, characters and setting both.