James Nelson,
Revolution at Sea #2: The Maddest Idea
(Pocket, 1997)

Although haunted by the carnage that ended his first command of a naval warship, Rhode Island merchant Isaac Biddlecomb reluctantly agrees to captain a new-built privateer in the fledgling revolution against British rule in the American colonies. However, he quickly finds himself sailing into battle with his untried ship and crew against a well-armed and seasoned British frigate.

On the brink of resigning his post to return to a simpler life as a merchant captain, a.k.a. smuggler, Biddlecomb is instead persuaded to sail on a vital mission to Bermuda to procure unguarded British gunpowder to restock the woefully undersupplied Colonial army which, under General George Washington of Virginia, has taken a stand in the hills surrounding Boston. But when a traitor in Boston's inner circle sends Biddlecomb into a trap, he must fight harder than ever before to break free of British captivity and somehow complete his mission, even as Biddlecomb's desire to win freedom for the American colonies increases, if somewhat grudgingly, as he contends again and again with the heavily gunned British navy.

Meanwhile, Washington aide Major Edward Fitzgerald is left to uproot the traitor in Boston with the assistance of Virginia Stanton, daughter of Biddlecomb's benefactor and object of the captain's unspoken affections. Virginia, however, might just find the dashing army officer slightly more appealing than Biddlecomb -- and for certain Fitzgerald is much more direct in his intentions. This is by no means a historical romance, but the thread of that growing triangle is an extra source of interest.

Based loosely on actual events from the early days of the American Revolution, this second volume of Nelson's Revolution at Sea saga is far more exciting and suspenseful than the first, By Force of Arms. Captain Biddlecomb leaps into the forefront with much greater development, and the adventures of supporting characters such as Virginia Stanton and Major Fitzgerald keep the book flowing at a breakneck pace. I will be making haste to begin the third book in the series, The Continental Risque, to see what happens next.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

25 April 2009

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new