His Heart's Obsession
by Alex Beecroft
M/M Historical romance, novella.
ARC via netgalley, courtesy of the publisher.
Ebook available from 18 June
Kingston, Jamaica, 1752
Robert Hughes, a lieutenant--and rogue--in the British Royal Navy, is in love with his gorgeous fellow officer, Hal Morgan. Hal only has eyes for their captain--a man who'll never share their inclinations. Night after night aboard the Swiftsure, it kills Robert to listen to Hal's erotic dreams of a man he can't possibly have. Determined to protect his friend, Robert stages a seduction.
But Hal demands proof of love before he will submit to the rakish Robert.
Mission accepted. After all, how hard could it be to show what's inside his heart? Yet Robert's move to claim Hal's love leads to the threat of exposure, and mortal danger from the French. Will a heart obsessed ever accept defeat?
Hal Morgan has loved his Captain, William Hamilton, from afar for almost as many years as he's known him. But this is the 1700's where it wasn't just frowned upon to desire your own sex - it could lead to being hanged for it.
Robert Hughes is a rakish practical joker, who seems not to have a sensitive bone in his body, but he too is hiding a deeper hurt. He's in love with Hal, who only has eyes for their captain and this unrequited love triangle starts up the premise for the book.
With the small canvas of a novella, Ms. Beecroft has painted a very detailed picture of life in the British Navy of the 1700's, along with characters so detailed you expect them to jump off the page and into life.
It is heart-breaking watching Hal's heart get broken a little more each day by the oblivious Captain Hamilton, but still he wanders after him like a puppy looking for treats, eager for a small word of praise or even better, a touch. Hal stores all of these like a treasure-seeker amassing gold, but they only make it more painful when Robert rightly points out, that there is no hope with the captain.
Robert's own confession of love doesn't go down too well; Hal has been too used to seeing him as a rogue and a joker, not to mention the ill-feeling Hal still harbours that Robert is promoted ahead of him, just because he'd been to university, but hadn't yet been on any ship. So instead of the seduction Robert had planned, Hal angrily storms out and says Robert must prove his love.
This was a lovely historical romance, where both the history and the romance get equal time. There are some intimate scenes, I would call them intimate rather than sex scenes, because sex wasn't what they were about. Robert and Hal were great characters and you were rooting for them as the story progressed.
The book had romance, passion and adventure all rolled into one, what more could you ask for in a book set in the Age of Sails?
Definitely one to re-read.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of The Chosen