When Evelyn Winthrop fled his childhood home, he never thought to return. Over the course of more than a decade, he’s given himself to the sea and become a whaler. Evelyn loves the adventure and freedom of the ocean and at least there he can be himself. But when a letter reaches him halfway around the world, he discovers his father has died and left the estate to Evelyn.
When estate agent Morgan Turner sets out to find long lost heir Evelyn, he doesn’t expect to have much success. Yet, shockingly, Evelyn returns, and Morgan must set about readying him for society, no easy task when Evelyn seems more interested in flirting and telling sea yarns. Yet both men have more in common than they realize and hours spent in study and practice lead to a closeness and an exploration of love. But a wastrel young brother and a dangerous old enemy threaten whatever peace Martin and Evelyn have found and neither of them may survive what awaits.
Sebastian Nothwell is quickly becoming my favorite historical m/m author. Take Me Like a Sailor is his second foray into the genre and it would be safe to say that I absolutely devoured this book. The plot is captivating and dramatic and it swept me up from page one. I would go so far as to say the action occasionally borders on melodramatic, but of the very best kind. The threats feel real and the consequences deadly. And there are lines that often come out of nowhere and left me laughing out loud. The title alone made me chuckle. As with Nothwell’s first historical, Mr. Warren’s Profession, it’s the characters that drive this book. Morgan and Evelyn feel vibrant and alive, men of flesh and blood that we can imagine meeting because they are so well developed and defined. Evelyn is a bit of twit at times and more than once I wanted to throttle him when he failed to heed Martin’s warnings regarding the antagonist. But this naïveté felt like a natural extension of his personality, so it also felt believable. The secondary cast is strong and the women represented are of their time, but strong and intelligent, which I appreciated.
The author has done an excellent job of portraying the realities of life as a whaler, which prompts one of two trigger warnings. Whale, seal, and even penguin oil was an integral and vital part of life until as late as World War I. Still, there’s no masking the bloody, violent, and wasteful nature of it and if you’re an animal lover like myself, some of the details can be hard to read. But the author puts this practice in comparison to a fox hunt, another scene that will leave many readers cringing. One is a purposeful practice, brutal and vicious but, rightly or wrongly, securing a product of importance to many in its day. The other is violence without purpose and without mercy. Both are acts of savagery and yet vastly different. These sections will leave you conflicted at best and deeply sad, but I consider it the hallmark of an excellent book if I walk away feeling anything at all. The second trigger would be regarding childhood sexual abuse. I would say it is very well handled and the details are limited, but considered yourself warned.
Don’t let the warnings dissuade you from reading this book if possible. It’s worth your time and effort if you can bear it’s more gruesome aspects. Take Me Like a Sailor is a fantastic romance, but it’s also a solid and wonderfully enjoyable piece of historical fiction. This one will play merry hell with your emotions, but it’s a divine read and I can’t recommend it more highly.