Perilous, by Cari Z
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: May 9, 2016
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
In 1803, England declares war on France, staking the fates of two mighty empires against one another. Thousands of men serve in the British navy, hungry for distinction in the battle against Bonaparte.
One of them, Lieutenant Thomas Williams, thinks he knows what he wants out of life: prize money at sea, a career of decent note, and the means to maintain his independence when he leaves the navy. What he finds is service under Captain Christopher Knightly: a tactical genius, inveterate charmer, and the youngest son of a wealthy noble house.
Their unexpected and perilous love affair is a gamble against the odds, for in a time of war, nothing is sure to last. If the French don’t tear them apart, one slip in front of the wrong eyes or ears might. When the demands of Christopher’s family take him from Thomas’s side, he thinks it might be the best thing for his captain. Little does Tom realize just how far Christopher will go to return to him, and when life takes a turn for the worse, how much further he will go to save him.
While historical romances are absolutely my thing, I have never been a fan of maritime historicals. I get seasick so easily that the thought of being on a boat makes me queasy. Let’s not talk about the one (and only) time I watched Master and Commander. Which is to say: I picked up Perilous solely because I think Cari Z is incredible, and not because I was actually interested in reading about guys on boats.
And I did enjoy the novella. Ignoring the fact that I read this on a plane (double-whammy: turbulence + the thought of being on a boat = supreme motion sickness), I can without hesitation say that this is, in fact, a really lovely story.
Tom is fantastic. He’s the kind of historical character that I love: a firm believer in duty, drawn to doing the best he can, working hard to rise in position and make a place for himself in the world. His feelings toward Captain Knightly are really gorgeous, and watching them evolve from hesitant attraction, to full-blown lust, to love and a fierce desire to protect… *sighs happily*
I wish with my entire heart that this novel had been longer. I wanted– no, needed more of Captain Knightly. I never connected to him as a character, except through Tom’s own feelings, and I wanted to see what happened to him after he and Tom had to part ways. I wanted the entire last part of the book to expand into action and angst, heartbreak and hope.
Anyone with a passion for maritime historical romances will really love this book. Cari does her research, and it shows on the page with rich detail and *queasy feeling* action-packed ship battles. Unless you get sea-sick at the mere sight of the ocean like I do, I think you should give this one a try!
Just before he went over the side, his captain brought his lips close to his ear. “Good luck, Tom,” he said in a voice that drove the shivers out of Tom’s system. Tom closed his eyes for a moment, savoring their closeness, and then slipped quietly into the black water of the bay.
It was cold, bone-chillingly cold. Tom caught his stuttering breath and then began to swim, slowly and silently, toward the distant guard boat. It hadn’t seemed so far away sitting in the cutter, but now that he was in the water, the distance felt interminable. The frigid water sapped his strength, but Tom was built strong in body and determined in mind, and he ignored it, focusing only on his goal as he edged closer and closer. He was within a few feet when he heard his captain’s voice.
“Messieurs! Ici, je suis un ami!” It was soft but carrying.
The guards sat up straight, dropping the bottle they were sharing and staring away into the darkness, away from Tom as he crept to the side of their boat. “Qui est là?” One of them called out. “Qui êtes-vous?”
Tom couldn’t allow them to keep calling out; the noise would bring unwanted attention. Grabbing his knife, he lunged out of the water and drew it across the noisier one’s throat even as he fought for a place in the boat. The man he held gargled hideously as he died, but the other had time to draw his knife.
Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She started writing then, because what else are you going to do for entertainment with no electricity? She writes award-winning LGBTQ fiction featuring aliens, supervillains, soothsayers and even normal people sometimes.
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I received copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.