“Love is sacrificing everything for the one you love no matter what the circumstances.” ~ Jeremy Limn
David, of 'Ransom' by Lee Rowan, is in love with his friend and fellow shipmate, William. He greatly values their friendship and has an enormous respect for William. David knows that a real relationship is not possible, but in order to keep William close by, he never even hints at his feelings. To David, William is bright and beautiful and he would do anything to keep him that way, even if it means sacrificing himself. When they are kidnapped by pirates, David has an opportunity to shelter William from humiliation and he takes it.
David comes from a background of privilege, not wanting for anything. He doesn't wish to follow in his father's footsteps and is looking for an opportunity to get away from home. David joins the Navy, hoping to make his own way in life. Unfortunately, he's thrown into the unfortunate position of being preyed upon by a depraved captain who makes his life hell and repeatedly violates him. Although it is not David's fault, he sees himself as tarnished, and it colors his feelings about himself and others. He loves William dearly; David would never do anything to disrespect him in any way; even though it's breaking his heart to hold back his feelings he continues to do so. His physical desire for William is almost overpowering at times, but he buries it deep within himself, thinking that revealing it would lead to earning William's distain and loss of his precious friendship. If they can remain good friends, it will be enough. When he and William, along with their captain, are captured, it creates a situation in which these feelings are revealed. David does everything he can, including lying to William, to protect him from the extent of sacrifice he's making to keep him and their captain safe until they can be ransomed. David stoically endures continuing abuse from Adrian, their captor, until William sees the physical evidence of it and questions him about it. Even then, he tries to play it down. He acts as if it is merely bothersome, but not the dreadful experience it actually is, because he doesn't want William to feel guilty.
Although he comes from a very humble background, William has a brilliant mind and great promise. He is advancing rapidly through the ranks. He loves being at sea and everything it entails. David is William's best friend. They have been through a lot together and, there's not only the camaraderie of being fellow shipmates, but an affection and respect that goes far deeper than that. William is naïve; he doesn’t recognize David's attention as anything but friendship, especially since David never voices his feelings. When the full extent of David's sacrifice becomes apparent, William is overwhelmed by what David is enduring on his behalf, and it becomes apparent to him that David's feelings go far deeper than friendship. William sees David through different eyes. William reaches down inside himself and realizes that he loves David as well. He is not sure what to do with these feelings or whether he should express them. He is torn by what he's always been taught and what he now wants and it is terribly confusing. William wants to be with David, but he doesn't want to disrespect either himself or David in the process. It's a conundrum which seemingly has no answer. The push and pull feelings between them are both endearing and bittersweet. Which is more important? Does William follow the dispassionate rules he's so strictly been taught; or does he follow his heart and make up his own?
This is a wonderful historical romance, written in a lyrical style befitting the time period. It has just enough naval jargon to make it feel authentic, to add to the ambiance, without burdening it. David and William's loyalty toward each other is quite admirable and their love amazingly intense. Their physical relationship, although reluctant at first, is always expressed without guile. Their encounters are so beautifully written that it made my heart ache with joy for then. Each one was a celebration of their love instead of just a physical coupling. The way their relationship is portrayed made it something very special, something to be cherished; it felt so right it made my heart swell with joy. I recommend this historical love story to everyone with a romantic heart, who believes in love and wants it desperately to prevail over any obstacle put in its path. Thanks, Lee, for a lovely, heartwarming story.