The Contraband Shore by David Donachie
1787. Captain Edward Brazier is on a mission: recently paid off from his frigate and comfortably off with prize money, he is headed to Deal to propose marriage to the young and lovely widow Betsey Langridge. He must navigate the bustle of the town's narrow streets that are busy with legal, illicit and depraved business flowing from and around the ships at dock. But all does not go well; between Betsy's brother and guardian Henry Tulkington prohibiting the match, and Brazier marked out for trouble by a local smuggling gang, his plans are in disarray. And when it slowly emerges that there may have been a decades old injustice closer to home, Brazier is caught up in more than he'd bargained for.