It's 1752, and Robert Hughes is a lieutenant in the British Navy. He's in love with fellow lieutenant Hal Morgan, who suffers from unrequited love for Captain Hamilton. Robert decides to declare his love for Hal just when Hal, in the depths of despair, is about to confess to Robert about his love for the Captain. But Robert is known as a bit of a rogue and a clown, his university education and lack of sea experience making it hard for him to fit in, and Hal doesn't believe that Robert's feelings for him can possibly match the purity of his love for the Captain. He refuses to believe it without proof.
In the past, I've only read Alex Beecroft's full length novels. I love them, but while False Colors, for example is a wider ranging seafaring novel centered on a romance but with both heroes also having various adventures apart, this novella is much more focused as a romance. As always, there's a balance between realism and idealism. Beecroft doesn't shy away from the fact that these men are living in a time when the Royal Navy punished sodomy with death, but after Hal comes to realize that Hamilton will never return his love, we are left able to believe that he and Robert will be able to find happiness together.
Overall grade: A