Book Title: A Star to Sail By
Author and Publisher: Joy Lynn Fielding
Cover Artist: Getcovers
Release Date: August 30, 2023
Genre: Historical/pirate M/M romance
Tropes: Enemies to lovers, forced proximity, hurt/comfort
Themes: Emotional scars, self-forgiveness, self-discovery, finding home
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 88 000 words
It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.
@joylynn.fielding @gaybookpromotions @debbiereadsbooks
All Crispin Merriott has ever wanted is to be a captain in the Royal Navy. Placed on half-pay after the war, he’s reduced to serving on a merchant ship. When pirates board his ship and force Crispin to join their crew, his dream has never seemed further away.
Billy loves the freedom he has as a pirate. As master gunner aboard the most beautiful ship to sail the seas, he couldn’t be happier. But then his captain tasks him with guarding the naval officer they’ve taken on board. Billy loathes the navy. He hates its officers even more.
Crispin is looking for a way to escape when disaster strikes the ship. Beset by danger, Billy and Crispin have to work together. But how can they trust one another when they detest everything the other stands for?
Trigger Warning: Please note this book contains material some people may find upsetting. The content warning page on my website gives further details: https://joyfielding.wordpress.com/cw/
Available in #KindleUnlimited
Down in the dark, stifling bowels of the ship, where the stink of bilge water and damp made Crispin’s eyes water, Billy gave him a lantern and a ledger. “Start here and mark the precise quantity of everything against its entry on the list.”
The hold contained an esoteric selection of goods—cotton, spices, cocoa, rum, and those were merely the first things Crispin saw. The only things they had in common were that they were easy to transport and of high value. At least they were all lashed down tightly. In his poor opinion of pirates, he kept forgetting they were experienced sailors.
The afternoon crept by as they worked in silence, and the hold grew ever more claustrophobic. Still Crispin worked diligently. His throat grew parched and he needed a drink, but he wasn’t going to ask for anything. Occasionally he’d look at Billy, who appeared immersed in his own work and entirely unaware of Crispin’s presence. Yet something in Billy’s fierce concentration suggested he was very aware of Crispin’s scrutiny.
Completing his counting of boxes of cocoa, Crispin made a neat entry in the ledger, and moved a couple of paces to investigate a large chest. He dragged it forward to open it, kicking away the rat his movements disturbed. Puzzled by the clothes the chest contained, he sorted through the top few layers and swiftly realised this wasn’t cargo taken from a ship but stolen personal effects. Crispin’s breath caught as he lifted out a blue brocade frock coat, splendidly embroidered in gold thread. He knew the coat, as he did the gold silk waistcoat lying beneath it. Mr Spencer had worn them every Sunday when conducting the service. His eyes misted red with impotent fury.
It took him a moment to compose himself. When he called out to Billy, his voice was unsteady from the anger he couldn’t banish completely. “How should I record these?”
Billy slipped around the edge of the crowded hold with the ease either of long practise or natural grace. “Clothes to go before the mast for distribution,” he said, as he saw the chest’s contents. “We don’t need any further details.”
“These are going to be pawed through by the crew to take whatever they like?” Outrage surged through Crispin. “What about the people you stole them from? What are they supposed to wear?”
Billy looked at him then, for the first time all afternoon. He’d tied his hair back earlier, and it somehow emphasised his cheekbones, making his beauty even more unearthly. But the Archangel Gabriel would never have had such scorn in his eyes. “They’re rich. They’ll buy more.”
Crispin shook his head as he thought of Mr Spencer’s cabin. He’d certainly had better victuals than the crew and his own supply of wine, as well as a painting that Crispin had presumed was of his wife, but it had been nothing like Captain Smythe’s cabin. That had been filled with luxury, with furniture designed for beauty as well as use, and his dining table had seen meat served every day on china plates alongside wine in glass goblets laced with silver. “This coat belongs to the master on the Eurydice,” he said, lifting it up to show Billy. “You have no idea if he’s rich—you stole it from him because he couldn’t stop you.”
The pirate simply raised an insolent eyebrow before wandering back to what he’d been doing. Crispin carefully folded Mr Spencer’s coat and decided not to dig any further into the chest, for he realised he would probably find his own best coat. And then a thought hit him, and he searched swiftly through the clothes, hoping to find his razor or knife. He’d like his compass back as well, but that wouldn’t be so immediately useful. Disappointingly, he found the chest contained only clothes.
He stood, aimed a fulminating glare at Billy, who was silently engaged in cataloguing everything he and his crew had stolen, and returned to his task.
4 out of 5 (very good)
Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Crispin wanted to be in the Navy, and now he finds himself on a pirate ship, helping them. But these pirates aren't like anything he heard about and Billy, especially, calls to him for reasons he can't figure out. Billy knows though, and it takes a storm to bring them finally to admit to each other what they could be.
What I especially liked about this, was being kept on my toes!
We are aware that something happened to Crispin to mean he is surviving on a merchant ship, and is no longer in the Royal Navy, but not WHY. We know Billy hates Naval officers, but not WHY. And we get the answers to both almost at the same time. Very different reasons, but equally devastating to them. I'm not going to go into it, for spoilers, but difficult reading, Billy's especially. Be mindful of the trigger warnings on this book.
It's not especially explicit, but I didn't mind that here. It's more about the feeling these two men have for each other, and knowing that they can be together, in this time, and be safe.
It is, however, quite violent. These pirates are ...reasonable...in their behaviours, but things happen and then Crispin and Billy are dealt a nasty blow. The level of violence is not graphic, though it does carry some detailed descriptions of punishments and the aftermath. Also, the reason Billy hates Naval officers is described in some detail.
It's not a complicated read, and I found I read it faster than I normally would for a book of this length, some 370 pages.
First I've read of this author, I like the way she spins her tales. I'll certainly read more by this author.
A very enjoyable, 4-star read
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book; the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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Joy Lynn Fielding lives in a small English market town, where she indulges her passions for vintage aircraft, horse riding and gardening (though not all at the same time).
Joy tends to wax lyrical about the fascinating facts she discovers during her research for books. Thankfully, she has a very patient Labrador who has a gift for looking interested in what she’s saying while he waits for the food to arrive.
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