Dewey Lambdin,
The French Admiral
(D.I. Fine, 1990; McBooks, 2002)

It's 1781, and British navy midshipman Alan Lewrie finds himself providing support ashore for Redcoats near Yorktown.

If you know your American history, you might predict things won't end well for young Alan.

But that doesn't stop American author Dewey Lambdin from serving up another rip-roaring tale as the young rake-turned-naval officer continues to mature into something better than he was in the first book in the series, The King's Coat.

The action on land at Yorktown is not the only major development in this book, but it's certainly the key event and it shows Lewrie in a situation where he is forced to face grave danger while out of his depth; he might be at ease in a ship-to-ship broadside, but infantry-style combat is not within his comfort zone. The action is bloody and brutal, showing the ugly side of war through atrocities committed on both sides of the conflict.

Through it all, Lewrie finds himself acting more bravely than he has any right to be.

Although still something of a womanizer, Lewrie has started to tone down his behavior a bit since Coat -- although Lucy, who seemed likely to be his "true love" in the previous novel, has a rival, Caroline, who seems likely to steal Lewrie's heart away. I'm not sure how I feel about either romance, however, given that he seems to be betraying both of them in some form or another.

Fortunately, I'm not reading these books for the romance. The action is great, and the settings are rough and tumble -- these sailors curse, fight and fornicate with the best of them.

book review by
Tom Knapp

24 January 2015

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