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A romantic adventure from the days of wooden ships and iron men, CAPTAIN BLACKWELL’S PRIZE is a story of honor, duty, social class and the bond of sexual love.

In 1802 Captain James Blackwell attacks and takes La Trinidad, a Spanish frigate aboard which Blackwell finds 35,000 gold dollars and the American woman Mercedes de Aragon. On putting into Gibraltar with his treasure and his new mistress Blackwell is informed by his irate evangelical admiral of the Treaty of Amiens, denying him prize money earned by the capture and setting Mercedes at liberty. But the self-possessed American has formed a strong attachment to lusty Captain Blackwell. When she journeys with the captain to the North African coast and is taken into the Dey of Oran’s harem, Captain Blackwell must follow his own code of morality and honor to rescue the woman on whom his future happiness depends.

CAPTAIN BLACKWELL’S PRIZE is historical fiction where sword fights and sea battles are depicted alongside the manners, ideas, and prejudices of men and women from the time of Nelson and Napoleon.

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  • Royal Navy captain James Blackwell attacks and takes the Spanish treasure ship La Trinidad, aboard which he finds 35,000 gold pieces and the Spanish-American woman Mercedes de Aragon.

  • Mercedes' true relationship to the Spanish captain is revealed, along with her abilities in navigation and swordsmanship. Her 'uncle' Severino Martinez takes Captain Blackwell's invitation to volunteer for the Royal Navy.

  • A fierce storm building since the battle catches the British ship off the coast of Spain, testing Blackwell, Mercedes, and the people aboard Inconstant.

  • Captain Blackwell brings his ship through the terrible gale. In the calmer weather following, his admiration for Mercedes increases. He makes this plain, in his crude sailor's way, when he orders his ship’s carpenters to turn his cot into a double berth.

  • Walking in on his diplomat brother Francis and Mercedes fencing, with Mercedes dressed in a midshipman’s uniform, Captain Blackwell is overwhelmed by physical desire. He clashes with his brother over his assumption Mercedes must acquiesce to his wishes. Mercedes goes to bed of Captain Blackwell in a straightforward manner, and she’s surprised at his tenderness and the pleasure in the experience.

  • Momentarily Mercedes believes Captain Blackwell means to share her with his officers, instead he presents her to Jack Verson, the five year old son of Inconstant’s second lieutenant. Captain Blackwell receives an unexpected reception from Admiral Gambier, the commander of the Mediterranean fleet in Gibraltar.

  • Ordered by irate evangelical Admiral Gambier to disembark his prisoners, and the treasure, and proceed to Ceuta, Captain Blackwell returns to Inconstant disappointed of the prize money he’d expected from the capture of La Trinidad. The Peace of Amiens has been signed with France, and Britain and Spain wrangle over the treasure taken from La Trinidad. Further bad news awaits Captain Blackwell aboard Inconstant when he learns of the abuse of a Spanish prisoner by the sadistic first lieutenant Mr. Sprague.

  • Mercedes feels threatened by Mr. Sprague with Captain Blackwell out of the ship. When Captain Blackwell returns from dining with the governor of Gibraltar, she gives him an unforgettable welcome. Captain Blackwell reminds Mercedes, though she is to go ashore, she is still under his protection.

  • While in Gibraltar Mercedes attempts to deliver her mother’s letter to Admiral Gambier. Mercedes and Captain Blackwell’s brother Francis make a clandestine plan.

  • Admiral Gambier accuses Captain Blackwell of keeping a woman aboard Inconstant in an illicit arrangement. Captain Blackwell recognizes Mr. Sprague’s ill will in the rumor and defends himself by declaring the lady is his intended. Yet Blackwell cannot commit to marrying Mercedes, and in spite of Admiral Gambier’s stricture against mistresses aboard ship, he refuses to leave her behind in Gibraltar.

  • Captain Blackwell hurries Francis and Mercedes aboard Inconstant, and sets sail to deliver Francis, the new Vice-consul to Oran, to the Dey’s court in Ceuta. On the way a fierce action is fought in the Straits of Gibraltar when Inconstant encounters the British brig Bulldog, taken by the Oranians who are using her to attack a merchant vessel.

  • In the aftermath of battle Captain Blackwell rescues the merchant captain’s wife, and Mr. Sprague clubs the Marine captain down the hatchway in an act of retaliation. No one witnesses the attack.

  • Mercedes and Inconstant’s surgeon attend the merchant captain’s wife. Francis and Captain Blackwell suspect Mr. Sprague in the Marine captain’s injuries.

  • In Ceuta Captain Blackwell and Francis attend a feast and confront the Dey of Oran’s displeasure. During a pyrotechnics display a fire-ship is sent against Inconstant with dire consequences for Mercedes.

  • Captain Blackwell returns alone to Ceuta where he and Francis are given misleading information about Mercedes. A duel with Mercedes’ betrayer is offered Captain Blackwell.

  • Mercedes lies ill in the Dey’s palace, while Captain Blackwell fights a duel in the North African desert.

  • Admiral Gambier orders Inconstant back to England to be paid off. Nothing prospers with Captain Blackwell, from another wound in the English Channel to the indifference of the Admiralty.

  • Mercedes recovers from cholera, and is discovered in the Dey’s palace by Severino Martinez and Francis. Captain Blackwell forms a short-lived alliance.

  • While awaiting the annulment of his marriage, Captain Blackwell receives word of Mercedes’ survival. Following a coup in Oran, Captain Blackwell is given a ship to evacuate British subjects from Ceuta.

  • As soon as Captain Blackwell reaches Ceuta he breaks into the Dey’s palace and spirits Mercedes away to Inconstant. But misunderstandings abound, and they are unable to be alone with the evacuees coming aboard the ship.

  • Captain Alexandre and two survivors from Bulldog are brought to Inconstant as she sails for Gibraltar. Following an uncomfortable meeting with Mercedes, Captain Blackwell is summoned to a supper aboard the flagship with Admiral Gambier.

  • Through Mercedes' daring, she and Captain Blackwell regain their previous, mutually satisfying relationship. Mercedes reveals the content of her mother’s letter to Admiral Gambier.

  • Convinced Mercedes’ father would not want him for a son-in-law Captain Blackwell arranges an immediate marriage. He proposes again to Mercedes at a supper party aboard Inconstant.

  • Impressed with Mercedes’ dash and decorum, Admiral Gambier appoints Captain Blackwell to Assurance. On the eve of taking the 44-gun ship into the Pacific, Captain Blackwell tells Mercedes she is his greatest prize.

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