I had high hopes for this novella. It's the story of sea captain who has to fight his growing feelings for his lieutenant, in a time where a relationship between them could end in hanging. But it didn't work for me, largely because of the way the story is told. It's set up as a journal, recounting the history between the men. As a result, it's all telling, with no showing. The narrative never allowed me to feel invested in the story. It was more of a detached recounting of events. And I never felt like I had more than a cursory idea of who these men were as people.
Basically, it plays out like this. Harry is named captain of the ship where Garnet serves. They are instantly attracted to one another, but Harry rejects the feelings... determined to hold onto his honor. He wants to be the best captain he can be, but during a transport of convicts, the crew contracts typhus. Add to that, killer storms and a prisoner revolt, and Harry & Garnet barely escape with their lives. They make it to a deserted island --and live Survivor-style, until they are rescued.
Most of the story, they are miserable. Most of the story, they aren't even together. And when they get to the island --and finally have a chance to be with one another-- I didn't even feel like I got to enjoy it. It was all glossed over. For instance, their first time together:
When we woke that first morning, we made love. Nothing needed to be said; we both understood it would happen as soon as we had the physical resources to allow it. It was sweet and weary and gentle, just kisses and the stroke of callused palms.
Um... I wanted to actually bear witness to the scene. Not just be told that they did it. And essentially, this was how the entire story was told. There was virtually no romance. It was just... not good for me.
Rating: C-*ARC Provided by Riptide via NetGalley