"A phenomenon - a romance set at sea in the age of fighting sail by an author who knows her background intimately." - Joan Druett, award-winning maritime historian and author of the bestseller Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
A romantic adventure from the days of wooden ships and iron men, Captain Blackwell’s Prize is a story of honor, duty, social class and the bond of sensual love.
A small, audacious British frigate does battle against a large but ungainly Spanish ship. British Captain James Blackwell intercepts the Spanish La Trinidad, outmaneuvers and outguns the treasure ship and boards her. Fighting alongside the Spanish captain, sword in hand, is a beautiful woman. The battle is quickly over. The Spanish captain is killed in the fray and his ship damaged beyond repair. Its survivors and treasure are taken aboard the British ship, Inconstant.
Captain Blackwell’s Prize features sword fights and sea battles alongside the manners, ideas, and prejudices of men and women from the time of Nelson and Napoleon.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Set at the time of the Treaty of Amiens (March 1802--May 1803) Captain Blackwell’s Prize is an engaging, well-written Nautical Adventure with vivid descriptions of life at sea in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, and a heavy dose of romance. The story begins with an exciting action sequence; the captain of the Inconstant (the names of Blackwell’s commands, Inconstant and Assurance, bear a clever reference to the story-line) takes a “prize”, a Spanish ship of the line. However, while the anticipated reward for capturing a Spanish ship is nullified by the aforementioned treaty, the real prize is the Spanish captain’s mistress, Dona Mercedes. The story follows Blackwell and Mercedes through a series of adventures, including a kidnapping involving a villainous first officer, and a rescue from a North African harem. The plotting and narrative structure reminded me of the Horatio Hornblower novels, with a couple of interesting twists: the brawny, skinny-dipping, hard-swearing Blackwell is quite a contrast to the cerebral, reserved Hornblower, and the presence of Blackwell’s love interest aboard ship might seem controversial to some readers. I’m not sure a Royal Navy captain of that, or any era, would have gotten away with keeping his lover on a fighting ship; it might have been a serious breach of discipline. But the presence of Mercedes on sea and land certainly adds to the story’s appeal and will please readers who like their swashbucklers with plenty of romance. There’s also a brief romantic interlude involving Jane Austen that some readers (especially Austen aficionados) might find objectionable. But these are minor quibbles. Captain Blackwell’s Prize is an action-packed novel that should appeal to fans of nautical adventure, romance, and historical fiction of the period. I highly recommend it.