Returning safely to England after the dramatic capture of Martinque, Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho finds an all too brief respite from war and politics in the arms of his mistress Catherine Somervell. But the shadow of a new conflict already darkens the horizon. The old enemy, France, forges an uneasy alliance with America - threatening the safety of British trade routes. Although ordered immediately to the Indian Ocean, for the first time Bolitho's thoughts are not of glory but his own - and the Navy's - past. Both Nelson and Collingwood died in their country's service. For the navy's newest Admiral, is there life beyond the sea itself?