Captain Blackwell's Prize is a Romance set in the world of 'Nelson's Navy' early in the 19th century. As such, there is actually more grappling under sheets than on deck (two ship actions): though I could perhaps wish for a little more 'naval' and a little less 'romance', it all works pretty well to form a satisfying page-turner. Most of the action takes place shipboard, so lovers of naval fiction should feel right at home.
Ulett's characters are as convincing as her naval action is credible. Blackwell is somewhat Aubrey-ish, an uncomplicated bear of a man who is equally at home pummelling his enemy as delicately caressing his beloved Mercedes, a capable girl, strong-willed yet vulnerable. Unlike O'Brian, we are treated to greater detail of their carnal relations than naval issues while ship-handling technicalities are kept to a minimum.
Overall, this is a feel-good book, a well imagined story, skilfully told from a dual viewpoint. Ulett handles the many twists and turns with aplomb, thankfully without resorting to the extremes of spiteful vindictiveness beloved of some authors. Full marks then for what appears to be Ulett's first novel, and the first in a new HNF series. Recommended.
Description of: Captain Blackwell's Prize
Author: V. E. Ulett