Joshua Andrews and Peter Kenyon are two gay men who are forced to bunk together aboard Captain Walker's naval ship. Captain Walker, a sadistically cruel man who revels in beating and killing, has made it clear there are spies among the crew and any show of passion will be dealt with in a gruesome and lethal manner.
Thus sets the backdrop of Captain's Surrender. While Josh and Peter escape death at Captain Walker's hands, there is the societal and biblical damnation that fosters in Josh a deep-seated self loathing. And there's the expectation that Peter take a wife and 'make' heirs for his family.
While each works up the ranks of the Navy to become captains themselves, they have stolen, intense and passionate moments. After a battle with the Colonists that sinks Josh's ship, he awakens in the arms of a Native American man. As Josh recuperates, the Indians who are caring for him show him a different outlook on gay men. They revere them as being special and better. This helps Josh accept his nature and his love for Peter.
The conflict in Captain's Surrender and the forbidden nature of the romance between Josh and Peter is probably the strongest and most realistic that I've ever read. Ms. Beecroft is unflinching in her portrayal of the volatile society in which they lived.
However I had a very hard time stomaching the cruelty dished out by Captain Walker and admit that after reading a couple of very vivid passages where men were beaten, I didn't want to continue the book. I was greatly relieved when the pair were no longer under the captain's thumb.
The truth is the feelings of revulsion I felt are a compliment to the author's writing. She managed to invoke the sense of despair and dread the men felt. The love/lust scenes were equally as good showing at their paradoxical nature.
I felt Ms. Beecroft's prose, setting of time and place, and historical accuracy were excellent.
Love? Might as well ask for the moon. But a man can dream…
Despite his looks and ambition, Midshipman Joshua Andrews hides urges that, in his world, make him an abomination. Living in fear of exposure, unnecessary risk is something he studiously avoids. Once he sets eyes on the elegant picture of perfection that is Peter Kenyon, though, temptation lures him like the siren call of the sea.
Soon to be promoted to captain, Peter is the darling of the Bermuda garrison, with a string of successes behind him and a suitable bride lined up to share his future. He seems completely out of Joshua’s reach.
Then the two men are forced to serve on a long voyage under a sadistic commander with a mutinous crew. As the tension aboard the vessel heats up, their unexpected friendship intensifies into a passion neither man can rein in.
Intimacy like theirs can only exist in the shadow of the gallows. Both men are determined their “youthful curiosity” must die before it brings disaster down on them. Yet neither man can root it from his heart. Warriors both, they think nothing of risking their lives for their country. In the end they must decide whether love, too, is worth dying for.