I do love some Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, and also some Alex Beecroft and Charlie Cochrane, but let me say right now that Perilous fits in with thisI do love some Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, and also some Alex Beecroft and Charlie Cochrane, but let me say right now that Perilous fits in with this company.
Cari Z gives us a perfectly plausible way to get our two characters together, and to let them have some stolen moments of happiness. While Captain Knightly is aboard, the endless blockade work and the stealthy attacks on the French have panache and derring-do. And the celebrations afterward have to be very, very quiet, because an 18 gun sloop is a very small ship.
The penalties for their activities in those days were severe, so the captain and his lieutenant had to be extremely careful. When duty to King and family rears its ugly head, Captain Knightly has little choice in obeying. Duty above all, to those in the Royal Navy, and Thomas does his to his lover as best he can. Heartbreaking for both of them.
The style will be very familiar to Hornblower readers, descriptive and a little distant. The story has more of what they’re doing than the details of ship-handling, which is fine, I didn’t feel deprived of leewards and starboards and such, I can get that from Patrick O’Brien. The romance is satisfying, and the ending both heartbreaking and endearing, when happiness is at last in reach.
I was a little concerned how Captain Knightly advanced to his rank without being much of a shiphandler, because how would he have the opportunity to demonstrate his tactical skills? Once I stepped back and let him wow me and (and fluster the French!) it was fine. I had a raised eyebrow for some of their private moments. A little more sensory input would have been nice but I did cheer for the Perilous and her gallant officers....more
There feels to be substantial back-story here, meaning that should Charlie Cochrane decide to write it, I will be jostling for first in lin4.5 marbles
There feels to be substantial back-story here, meaning that should Charlie Cochrane decide to write it, I will be jostling for first in line. According to her blog, this is her first foray into Age of Sail, and begins with an established couple.
The story has two major sections, the first at Alexander’s family home at holiday time, sometime after the Peace of Amiens, and the two men are very much a couple. They always have an eye out for someone who doesn’t wish them well and must be very discreet, because the Articles of War prescribe death for men in a relationship such as theirs, and the social suicide in the land-based society would be scarcely better. They have more freedom at the family estate than they do on board ship, but a country Christmas means houseguests, some with sharp eyes and secrets of their own.
Back aboard ship, Tom and Alexander have war to deal with and are yet more circumspect, which means that they dare not be together, nor exchange so much as a fond glance on deck. Even the hint of scandal is enough to cause an able sailing master, one who sailed with the legendary Captain Cochrane, to be lacking a berth. (Knowledgeable sources tell me Cochrane was the source for many exploits that ended up in Ramage, Hornblower, and Aubrey stories.)
I loved the language, which was slightly formal for modern day, but gave it a period feel. The men would occasionally tease each other in ship’s terms, but the playfulness kept the nautical language from being dry or overdone. The sex scenes have a similar restraint, which was kind of cute and kept from introducing coarser terms into the story that would have spoiled the effect. (See what kind of effect the story is having on me? The mores are catching!) The naval jargon is present just enough to place the story, but isn't overwhelming and doesn't require specialist's knowledge.
Tom and Alexander clearly love one another and are protective of each other, but problems that an able first officer should solve without troubling the captain might not be the same as what one lover should keep from another. The battle sequences are exciting and fraught with danger, and winning brings problems of its own.
The love story and the nautical story wrap together very nicely, and tie in with an external danger worse than the French. My one quibble is that the solution to this problem had something of a deus ex machina feel to it, although it certainly solved the issue.
I enjoyed this story, and would recommend it not only for aficionados of Hornblower and the like, but for anyone who’d appreciate an m/m historical that doesn’t bend the reality of then to allow a more present day liberty. Charlie Cochrane deserves her legions of fans, and this story is a great addition to her work.