Think of Horatio Hornblower as a girl of 15. Think a sailing ship with masts, sails, roping, open gun ports, broadsides, pirates, war. Now think of it in space, and in the future.
The ships in this future have a regular propulsion system for in regular space. Distances between solar systems are too far for conventional travel so they shift into Dark Space. In Dark space the laws of physics don't apply, and they have winds and storms, hence the need for sailing ships. It's a masterful way of suspending disbelief to establish 18th century sailing vessels into space.
Alexis Carew is a 15 year old girl on a fringe planet. It's only been colonized for three generations. Her grandfather has large landholdings and mining rights to asteroids. Her parents died in an accident when she was three, and the laws won't let her inherit. Strictly male primogenitor.
She is wooed by the wealthy landholders eligible sons, and she finds them wanting nothing more but a brood mare who knows her place. The last suitor who visits gets her mad enough to douse with a pot of tea. An aside her, think original Star Trek episode Trouble With Tribbles. Kirk is trying to find out who threw the first punch in a bar room brawl. He when finds out its Scotty he tries to find out why he threw the punch. It takes some time for the punch line. The same thing happens here as Alexis's grandfather tries to find out why she upended a pot of tea on the boy's head. It's a good laugh.
Back to the story. A naval ship orbits the planet and the captain lands trying to enlist men to man the ship. The landholders naturally hide all their indentured laborers. Alexis is present when the captain comes calling on their land and she enquires if she can enlist. She's told women can enlist, but usually in core space. The fringe is a little too rough, with pirates and all. Only she has to be 16. She then asks about becoming a midshipman, they're taken on as young as 9. The captain of the ship has a talk with her grandfather, who tells him where to find other landholders men. Captain Grantham takes Alexis on as a midshipman and there the story takes off.
There's a little bit of miscommunication as she's learning the ins and outs of naval tradition and terminology. Especially as Captain Grantham is only a commander, but is referred to as captain, but that's not his rank, but then again it is.
The book is well written, entertaining and when the ship encounters pirates turns deadly serious.
J. A. Sutherland has just become one of my favorite authors. He has many more books to keep me entertained.