Rating: 3.75 stars
Fortunes of War is a dashing, swashbuckling adventure split into two parts - Part 1: The Black Sheep (~40% of the book) and Part 2: The Privateer (~60%). Robin, the youngest son of an English Earl, meets a man like no other: Dermot Channon, a mercenary that has accompanied the Spanish ambassador who is seeking refuge at the Earl's estate. Peace is precarious during this time period as war between Spain and England is looming around the corner, but creates the perfect backdrop to this story.
Part 1 starts with some historical world building and is also when Robin, at the ripe age of 18, meets Dermot (who is 23 years old). Both are of Irish descent, yet are on opposing sides of the oncoming war due to their family history. I was worried that Robin, being the blushing virgin flower that he is, was going to be one of those
characters (you know, the ignorant yet hot-headed youngster who thinks himself a man). I was SO grateful to realize that Robin, while ignorant of many things due to his forced and sheltered life style, is actually quite mature and intelligent. Dermot is also surprising, as he doesn't come off as the blood-thirsty mercenary I judged him as.
And so, once these two men meet, it doesn't take long for them to acknowledge that they are indeed in love
. Don't expect a slow burn that takes more than half the book before confessions of love are made. It's not insta-love, by any means! There is instant attraction, but it just doesn't take long for cupid to strike.
To be honest, part 1 was kind of dull. While reading, I kept thinking, "where's the swashbuckling romantic adventure?!" Don't get me wrong, part 1 wasn't boring. I was just expecting more than world building, character introductions, and growing relationships. Instead, it was plotty with conspiracies and helps setup some things to occur in the next part.
The swashbuckling doesn't happen until part 2, which takes place 7 years after the end of part one. Quite a few things have changed during this time jump, one of which being that Channon is now a privateer! I can't say much without spoiling anything, but this was where my expectations were met:
1) sea-faring adventure!
2) pirates galore!
3) treasures aplenty
Part 2 definitely overshadowed part 1 and got my pants all fired up! It had all the helpings of a historical "piratey" movie. There's a LOT that happens, but the relatively quick pacing helped speed things along and kept things from being stagnant.
So overall, I really enjoyed Fortunes of War. I have only read Mel Keegan's science fiction works (which are excellent, and I recommend all M/M Sci-fi fans to give [b:Death's Head|1772702|Death's Head (Narc, #1)|Mel Keegan|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1289585464s/1772702.jpg|1770879] a shot), and so didn't know what to expect from a historical.
But it was refreshing. Refreshing to read about MATURE characters that don't waste word count on worthless, trifle arguments and misunderstandings. These are men who love one another. Whom are trying to etch a living for themselves, to live in freedom during a time and world that are against them even in the midst of the open seas.
So if you want to read a story about two men who fall in love, then are forced apart due to circumstances, and are brought back together in the boundless ocean and upon the discovery of the new world, give Fortunes of War a chance.
Edit: forgot to mention that the switching POV between Robin and Channon got kind of confusing (it could change from one paragraph to the next without warning). After a while, I got used to it, but required me to reread paragraphs at times.