August 5, 2016 by kitmoss
Publisher: DreamCraft (April 15, 2009)
This is easily our favorite Mel Keegan novel, and if you know just how many he has written, you know there was a lot of quality for this one to top! The exhaustive historical and technological research that went into this highly gratifying work is only matched by the great love story and the tense and dangerous situations the characters face.
Bill Ryan failed to save a ship he commanded and was stripped of his Royal Navy rank. An old friend of his father’s takes a chance on him and hires him to pilot for his coastal shipping company. Bill has done extremely well, but his employer’s trust in him flies out the window when the old man discovers Bill is romantically involved with his son, Jim. The two lovers are forced to separate just as the shipping company needs Bill the most.
Let’s just say it’s a lousy time to be in the shipping business in England. The tall ships are on their way out and steam shipping taking over, though both technologies face a common rival—trains. In the meantime the Kerrs are making a swift profit from salvaging the cargoes of ships that have struck the coastal rocks and sunk. Bill and Jim have concluded that the Kerrs are somehow arranging the accidents. But how can they work to defeat the sabotage when old man Hale, Jim’s father, is so hung up on their relationship he can’t see the real threat.
The lovers in this story are not colorful pirates or dashing swordsmen, but rather average men who have the courage needed to face not only the threats to their lives and livelihoods but to the very love that brings them together. This courage will come to save the necks of others caught in the maelstrom.
One particularly lovely scene is when an inspired Jim figures out a way to squelch one of his tormenters who is spreading rumors about his relationship with Bill. The book is a tremendous read, but it would be worth the read just to see what he does.
This is Keegan at his finest, in our humble opinion. The Deceivers is easily one of our favorite all-time gay historicals.