I recently read Captain Blackwell’s Prize by V. E. Ulett for her book tour as she sails the Internet to let historical fiction readers in on some romance of the high seas. I had never read much in the way of naval or sea romance, but I have watched the films Master and Commander and all Pirates of the Caribbean, liking both types of ship Captains. I also love the ocean and history set in the time period where massive ships with tall, high-flying sails littered the shores, so therefore I took a gamble I might like a tale written in this theme. By the way, love the book cover!
Ulett states that Captain Blackwell’s Prize was inspired by eighteenth and nineteenth century journals and letters. Though also written with great naval battle knowledge, research, and detail, the motivation she used of written word passed down from that century is truly what lends to understanding the life of seamen, families, and romance between men and women that the book illustrates.
Her publisher’s website, Fireship Press (focusing on nautical fiction and non-fiction) even imparts to us from the perspective she wrote her novel: “A keen interest in the Royal Navy of Nelson’s day and the Europe of Napoleon’s time led Ulett to research primary source materials, where she found a wealth of eighteenth and nineteenth century journals, travel accounts, and letters. This, combined with a passion for books and the agreeable sensation of falling into the past, inspired Ulett to write Captain Blackwell’s Prize.”
(Review continued after synopsis)
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.
Publication Date: June 20, 2012 | Fireship Press | 274p
It’s clear Ulett has grown to understand the life of a man of Naval rank at sea during an era of sea battles, but also how love can blossom in all unlikely places. It might not be the bed of roses kind of romance, as the life at sea was very harsh. In addition to that, being a woman of any rank during that time period was most difficult as men at sea for such lengths could be brutal and rough (and downright foul!). Manners, anyone?
Ulett did a great job of smoothing out Captain Blackwell’s hardened demeanor to show his growing endearment to Mercedes and her wonder and unconditional love of him. She wrote Mercedes as a character with spunk, a desire to be of service, and with great strength. Her character was engaging and steadfast. She broke down cultural barriers.
I don’t completely enjoy a man as bold as Captain Blackwell for myself, but I enjoyed reading of their budding romance turned lasting love affair. Of course, a happy ending is always a plus when reading a book and this one didn’t falter. Though they’ve been through trials and tribulations aplenty, their adventures are just beginning.
The style of writing lent it to seem like the reader was actually perusing an old journal, yet its third person novel stance also gave us details of battle, lifestyle, and relationships much as a historical non-fiction book might teach us. The educated and professional style of writing was not contemporary or modern, yet it was rich in giving the reader a zoomed-in focus on the relationship between two people, both from separate sides of the battle and those entangled in their lives.
If you are a true lover of naval or nautical fiction mixed with romance, this book would be good for you as it really focuses on the relationships of various cultures living, fighting, judging, and loving on the high seas, as well as giving us a glimpse into the lifestyles of women at sea.
Other Praise for Captain Blackwell’s Prize~
“… a satisfying page-turner. Ulett’s characters are as convincing as her naval action is credible.” – Julian Mackrell, Historic Naval Fiction
“a fine story … Highly recommended for those who enjoy a romantic tale with a little action included as well.” – Jeff Westerhoff, Historical Novels Review
V.E. Ulett, Biography~
A long time resident of California, V.E. Ulett is an avid reader as well as writer of historical fiction. V.E. is a member of the National Books Critics Circle and an active member and reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Eighteenth and nineteenth century journals and letters inspired the writing of CAPTAIN BLACKWELL’S PRIZE. The sequel takes Captain Blackwell and Mercedes to the far side of the world, on a new personal, and cultural adventure.
You can find more information about V. E. Ulett at:
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