I just love it when I find a new author to glom, and that’s exactly what’s happened with Captain’s Surrender by Alex Beecroft.Peter Kenyon has been promoted to the rank of captain, but his ship awaits him in Bermuda, so he must take a temporary position as a lieutenant on The Nimrod, which is sailing to the island. Peter soon discovers that The Nimrod’s Captain Walker is a sadistic man who metes out severe punishment for the slightest imperfections – and who hangs any man even suspected of being homosexual. Captain Walker takes an immediate dislike to Peter, and assigns him to share a room with crew member Joshua Andrews, whom Walker suspects of being homosexual.
Joshua Andrews has become accustomed to the absolute fear that comes with serving under Walker, and he knows how the man’s mind works. When the captain assigns Peter to share Josh’s room, Josh knows that Walker is setting a trap for them. Josh desperately hides his intense attraction to his new roommate – not knowing who can be trusted, and knowing death awaits him if his secret desire is ever discovered. But over the course of the voyage, Peter and Josh become very close friends, slowly confiding in each other and building a solid foundation of trust and affection.
Between the danger on the ship, pirates, naval warfare, and the star-crossed love story, I couldn’t put Captain’s Surrender down. Right from the first page Beecroft makes you feel just how dangerous it was for Josh and Peter to act on their desires. Their romance is, by turns, sweet and heartbreaking. The obstacles these two face on their path to an HEA at times felt insurmountable, and yet throughout the course of the book there was an underlying layer of optimism. I’m not much of a crier, but when Peter and Josh finally got their HEA, I was definitely fighting back tears. Heck, I’m fighting back tears right now just remembering their journey.
Neither Josh nor Peter is perfect; both have very real flaws. But that just made them feel all the more real to me. Josh is so desperately in love with Peter that he’s willing to take any scraps of affection Peter will give him. Peter, on the other hand, while he cares deeply for Josh, views their relationship as temporary – just until Peter is able to find a suitable bride. It was lovely to see the nature of their relationship change over the course of the story, and especially, to watch Josh develop the self-confidence he needs to be an equal partner.
Beyond the romance, this book is compelling for its vivid portrait of naval life. Between the threat of mutiny and battles with pirates and the French, the story crackles with energy and danger. The battle scenes leave you on the edge of your seat, and I was completely absorbed in the world Beecroft painted.
This book was really very good, but I have two quibbles which prevent it from being a DIK. One is near the end when Peter is faced with a life-changing decision. Parts of his thought-process bothered me, and felt out of character for him. The second quibble is the direction the story takes with Josh after a battle with the French. It just felt a little odd, for lack of a better term. I ultimately understood the reasoning behind it, and that it was a catalyst for Josh’s character, but it wasn’t my favorite. In the grand scheme of things, however, these were fairly minor complaints with what is overall a fantastic read.
I can best sum up Captain’s Surrender as a book that left me craving more – not because the ending was lacking in any way, but because I just didn’t want it to end at all.