Rating: 4.25 stars
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His Heart’s Obsession is a story of determination in the face of the fear of change.
In a time when attraction to another man is seen as an affliction and is punishable by death, Lieutenant Robert Hughes spends his days and nights obsessing over a fellow sailor, Lieutenant Hal Morgan. Robert knows that Hal has his sights set on another man, but he can’t help wanting Hal anyway.
Hal is tormented day and night by an attraction to his friend William, who is also the captain of his ship. Even when William expresses a need for Hal to help him woo a woman, Hal still holds on to hope that one day the captain will share his feelings.
After a poorly planned seduction and a declaration of love by Robert, Hal thinks that Robert is making fun of his weakness for William. Hal challenges Robert to prove his love if it is, in fact, true. Taking the challenge to heart, Robert sets out to prove his love for Hal – even though he may have to cause Hal a small amount of pain in order to prove his love, as opposed to the dream of a man who is unattainable.
His Heart’s Obsession is set in 1752, a time where a romantic relationship between two men is a crime. Britain is at war with France and the crew of the Swiftsure is part of that war. Robert and Hal are both Lieutenants in the British Royal Navy. These characters are well-played as a love/hate relationship. Robert is a prankster – the kind where he only picks on you when he likes you. He holds an unrequited love for Hal because he knows Hal has his sights set on someone else. Hal sees Robert basically as a slacker. He thinks Robert doesn’t take anything or anyone seriously so Hal has no reason to believe Robert when he professes love. I enjoyed the progression of their relationship from a tolerance of each other to confidants to mutual attraction. It was a slow progression that garnered trust between both Hal and Robert.
The author gives great description of the time and setting – the ship with its tiny quarters separated by canvas walls, the humid heat of Kingston, Jamaica, and the British society in 1752 Jamaica. There are so many details the author obviously researched well to create the story to fit in with this time period. Detail was not spared throughout the entire book. The inner workings of the ship, along with battle plans were all well researched, described in a way that even a person who is not a history-buff can understand and enjoy. I don’t know a lot about this period in time, but I feel like the author did a great job showing me her view. Whether it’s the right period or not, I pictured it as kind of a “Pirates of the Caribbean” setting.
The storyline is one of courage and determination. Unrequited love plays a major role in both of the main character’s lives and gives a double meaning to the title, His Heart’s Obsession. The author does a great job conveying the fear and uncertainty surrounding the character’s need to let someone know their true selves and their true desires.
All in all, His Heart’s Obsession is a great story of dreaming of what love could be like and the reality of what love actually is. It’s a good read with a combination of secrecy, unrequited love, and a couple poorly planned seductions.