M. Kei's Reviews > Captain's Surrender

Captain's Surrender by Alex Beecroft
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Aug 12, 10

bookshelves: gay-adventure, nautical-fiction, ebooks
Read in August, 2010

** spoiler alert ** A soap opera in uniform in which the ships are props. Oddities--like the sprit topsail on what is presumably a British vessel circa 1800, judging by the details on the uniforms--and the mechanical way in which orders are given, as if the author had copied them out of a reference manual--undermine the nautical aspects. A tall ship sailor myself I tried to figure out what she was talking about before concluding that she didn't know and letting them go by the wayside. Besides, I'm pretty sure the average reader is not picking up this book for nautical adventure. The nautical details are merely window dressing.

The romance is well-written and has some elegant turns of phrase. Beecroft is a good writer. However, the story follows well trod ground for historical gay fiction. Josh and Peter are naval officers and become lovers. They torment themselves and each other with guilt over their abomination. They get promoted, get their own ships, split up, but are in convoy together, get ambushed by the French in Hudson Bay, and Josh commits suicide by setting his ship alight and steering it against the overwhelming French force. Except, he doesn't die. The author doesn't give us any explanation for the extraordinary feat of our hero surviving. He gets rescued by some Native Americans who teach him that men like him are holy because God made them that way. Self-esteem repaired, Josh goes back to Bermuda, finds Peter, who hasn't married the young woman who occupied so much of the first part of the book, Josh proposes marriage to Peter, they suffer great angst, then agree to live together forever. They have some more fabulous sex. The end.

I found Peter Kenyon's character interesting in the beginning when he was curious and not suffering the knee jerk reactions of his culture--it's rare that any author explores how a character might have a positive or non-judgmental attitude about homosexuality in the period. The assumption is that all gay men of the 18th century were horribly tortured by guilt and misery. Josh certainly is. Alas, Peter learns to be ashamed. He got a wee bit interesting again at the ending where he had to decide whether to turn Josh in because it was the right thing to do according to his society.

If he had, it would have been a much more interesting book because it would have departed from the usual formula of the m/m romance genre. But, this is one of the popular examples of that genre, and Alex Beecroft is one of the most popular authors in the genre, so what we get is something that should make fans of the genre very happy No tragedy of Shakespearean proportions here; it all ends happily.

This is an early Beecroft; she revisits the same theme with greater maturity and nautical detail in False Colors. For readers new to the genre or to Beecroft, False Colors is the better starting point because it is the better book. For those who are already fans, it is an enjoyable meander through a well-known country.
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