As usual when I read an historical novel I try to judge it more for the feeling it left me than for the details accuracy. Truth, if the author did a lot of mistakes, I really can't enjoy it. I think M. Kei is pretty accurate in his description even if, in my historical ignorance, I really am not able to put a precise date for the events: it's a period in which France and England are not at war between each other, it's a period when the Sallee Republic was at war with Spain (I for example had to check where and when the Sallee Republic existed).
Regardless the period, sodomy is still a hanging crime in the British naval army and Lieutenant Peter Thornton well knows it. Why he chose to enlist is still a mystery to me, since he ran away from home right for that reason, he was found out groping a fellow boy; before that, he was supposed to follow his stepfather's trails as a preacher, after that, he has no family and home. He said that enlist was his only chance, but still I think that it was a poor chance due to his preferences in matter of sex.
Other than the obviously trouble he is facing, there is also the little factor that Peter is not exactly a "hero". He is a good officer, but he is maybe a little to stick to the book. He is good to follow order, but I don't see him much in the role of captain. Peter has too much of a kind soul, he will forgive everything and everyone.
At the beginning of the novel, he is pining over his fellow lieutenant Roger Perry, who is actually a good guy, but also as straight as it comes. It's quite an unrequited love, even if Roger loves him as a brother; he would never consider being something more for Peter. When Peter has the chance to leave the English ship to join a corsair crew at the order of a Sallee captain, there is nothing that bound Peter to his home country, no family or love. More, where Roger refused his love, Tangle, the corsair, is instead courting him like no one else did before.
Most of the novel is spent at sail, attacking one ship or the other, mostly Spanish ships, and meanwhile Peter learns to loose a bit of his English contempt to the Moroccan custom. But still, in his heart, he remains a Christian, and at the moment, he is not really ready to change his beliefs; the strange thing is that, even if Peter prefers the company of men, he is totally inhibited when it arrives to sexual relationship. He still considers sodomy a sin, and so he tries to bend "things" to his own comfort level: if he doesn't perform sodomy, maybe he is not a sinner. I think there is for sure a very negative experience in Peter's past, when he was a young boy recently enlisted, something he hints at but never goes further in describe, something that still conditions him.
Peter is for sure a complex and deep character, and he is the protagonist of the novel; Tangle, the corsair, is someone who grows in the like of the reader, but, for a reason or the other, I never felt like he was the right man for Peter. He is not bad, au contraire, he is really caring with Peter, he helps him, and, as Peter said, he is probably a better Captain that others Peter served, but still, I felt him more like a pater familiae than a lover for Peter. Probably the reason is that Tangle is too much for Peter, Peter needs someone different to be happy, someone who doesn't shadow him, someone more at his level, in few words, an average man like Peter is.