Fourteenth in Kent's fine series about Richard Bolitho's exploits in the Napoleonic-era sea wars between England and France. A hero who's been passed over for promotion and is still only a rear admiral, Bolitho is now home to marry Belinda Laidlaw at last. But aged Admiral Beauchamp needs a gesture at sea to show the British that the queasy sleep of peace with the French (it's 1801) is only an interlude. So Bolithe must set sail, without even a farewell to Belinda--undermanned, in poor repair, and soon (when Beauchamp dies) without government support as he tries to fulfill his old admiral's final order: destroy the French invasion fleet now being armed and stored in the harbors on the Biscay coastline. What's more, Bolitho's haunted by memories of past failures in the Biscay area. And, though there are implausibilities along the way (a bed-meeting with Belinda at Gibraltar; Bolitho's close scrape with death), the action and characterization are full-steam-ahead throughout this unusually involving naval adventure.