I have high expectations for Alex Beecroft's work and By Honor Betrayed was no exception. I was surprised though by how much I truly enjoyed this story. I shouldn't be, but I was!
First of all, Alex really packs a punch for such a small word count (25,000 words). Conrad and Tom are two men on the edge. They've been master and servant but most importantly friends for over 10 years. Conrad wants Tom but fears that any overture he makes would be construed by Tom as a demand, and so Tom wouldn't be able to say no. Conrad also fears that any invitation he reads in Tom's eyes is something he wants so badly that he's imagining it. You could say Conrad has some angst. Which is increased when his commanding officer begins to suspect the relationship he has with Tom. And everything Tom and Conrad do to try and stem the suspicions, even amongst the crew, just feeds the flames.
Conrad has a hard decision to make when he realizes that Tom does indeed want him. Sacrifice it all for love or try to deny his feelings and stay safe? And what happens when that decision is torn out of his hands?
By Honor Betrayed was delicious. That's the only way to put it. The desire between Tom and Conrad can almost be felt. Everyday touches between master and servant take on a whole new meaning. This was heady stuff.
Without giving too much away, at one point I actually covered my mouth and gasped at something that happened. It was so surprising and heartbreaking and that's how caught up I was. That's how captivating Alex' writing is, it grabs hold of you and doesn't let you go. Even when I finished, I was still smiling over what I had just read.
The setting is also very richly portrayed in Alex' writing. I can see the ship and even the coastal towns very clearly. If you enjoy seafaring adventures, naval officers and pirates, I highly recommend By Honor Betrayed.