False Colors, set in the 1760's, is a book which can be divided into three sections. At the beginning John Cavendish is given command of a prize bomb ketch and Alfie Donwell volunteers as his First Lieutenant. They are given verbal orders to deal with the barbary corsairs and after a sequence where Donwell is imprisoned and rescued they bombard Algiers. After escaping there is a subsequent engagement with a xebec during which Cavendish is badly wounded.
This is primarily an M/M Romance but this aspect does not dominate and in the first section the author sets the stage for their relationship as would be the case for the interaction of crew members in any novel. As the Admiralty does not officially approve of their actions at Algiers, Cavendish is demoted and eventually returns to England whilst Donwell joins the ship of a former Captain.
For the next section the focus moves to Jamaica where there are pirates to deal with and a court martial for Donwell to face. However, I think from the naval fiction point of view I was most impressed with the final section where the two are reunited aboard the Albion whilst exploring the icy north off Baffin Island. At one stage the ship is badly damaged and sinking after striking an iceberg. The descriptions of how the ship was handled and saved were particularly good.
False Colors was a pleasant surprise. I expected the M/M Romance aspect to dominate but it did not. The naval story was well researched and the ship handling, action, and crew interactions were woven into a very believable naval narrative. It is primarily a love story but it is also a very good naval fiction novel.
Description of: False Colors
Author: Alex Beecroft