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At the Edge of Honor 

Winner of the 2003 Patrick D. Smith Literary Award for Best Historical Novel of Florida. The year is 1863. The American Civil War is leaving its bloody trail across the nation and Peter Wake, a third generation New England schooner sailor, is out of work and facing conscription. "If you've got to go to war, son, go as a sailor. Soldiers live and die in the mud," is the advice from his father. Wake follows that advice and joins the U.S. Navy as a volunteer officer. He is sent to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, based at Key West, an island off the extreme southern end of Florida. He is assigned command of the Rosalie, a small armed sloop that only months before had been a enemy blockade-runner in South Carolina. Aboard his new command, Wake learns that the wartime naval glories and exploits he read about in the northern papers don't exist down on the steamy coasts of subtropical Florida. What he finds instead, is a dirty little guerrilla war where nothing is as it first appears, and every decision he makes has unforeseen consequences. An experienced seaman and former merchant marine officer, Wake also learns that a naval officer has to be more than a good sailor, for he carries a special burden in war-the burden of intentionally sending his men into harms way. Wake's exploits earn him the recognition of the squadron's senior leadership , and he is ordered on special missions to ascertain intelligence of Confederate operations in the shadowy and sinister world of Havana, center of the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean, and the remote outer islands of the British Bahamas. International intrigue has its own murky reefs and shoals, giving Wake few options and many dangers , as he overcomes situations he would never have dreamed of only months before, while on a schooner in New England. The turmoil in Wake's life comes not only from the sea and the enemy. He falls hopelessly , and foolishly, in love with Linda Donahue, the daughter of a Key West pro-Confederate zealot. Both lovers face the antipathy of their peers for having an affair with the "enemy," but cling to each other as the only hope of tranquillity in an insane world at war. Throughout it all, Peter Wake demonstrates that most salient of American characteristics, the ability to adapt and overcome incredible challenges. It is while facing those challenges, both afloat and ashore, that Peter Wake makes decisions that take him right up to the edge of honor.

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