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Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  201 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
During the Civil War, two young soldiers on opposite sides find themselves drawn together. One is a war-weary but scholarly Southerner who has seen too much bloodshed, especially the tortures inflicted upon the enemy by his vicious commanding officer, his uncle. The other is a Herculean Yankee captured by the rag-tag Confederate band and forced to become a martyr for all t ...more
Paperback, 286 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by Bear Bones Books
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Purgatory by Jeff MannWhen the Music Stops by John T. FullerP’tit Cadeau by Anel VizFaster Than the Speed of Light by Lucius ParhelionLovers in Arms by Osiris Brackhaus
Best Underrated M/M Books
1st out of 400 books — 242 voters
Special Forces by Aleksandr VoinovSkybound by Aleksandr VoinovInto Deep Waters by Kaje HarperKeeping Promise Rock by Amy LaneLovers in Arms by Osiris Brackhaus
Best Gay Romance in Times of War
26th out of 99 books — 184 voters

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Community Reviews

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I don't want to write a long review. No, not because this book didn't deserve it. Totally the opposite.


Jeff Mann is an amazing writer. His writing and I are compatible. Even more than this. His writing makes my body react. His writing makes my soul and damn what ever REACT.


A heartbreaking, emotional moving LOVE STORY, enemies-to-lovers.

But it is so much more that just this.
Dec 21, 2012 Ilhem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-m, historical, bdsm
I’ll give you a fair warning before you start reading this review : I went all emo on this book!

Purgatory is a heavy, slow-paced read, invested by an allegory (yeah, I’m showing off) where Christian martyrdom is shoved back in bigots’ faces and where nature and eroticism only bring poetry.
It’s about coming out of anonymity and becoming a human being again, about growing up, about finding balance and harmony and companionship in one’s desires. It’s about being a soldier, being a man, being gay,
I finished Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann. Yes, I read this book yesterday (the Kindle edition. I'm still waiting for the print edition to arrive so I can pet the gorgeous cover, but couldn't wait to read it), and it was worth it.

The other novellas that I read during the week were also by Jeff Mann. I re-read some the short stories from his Lambda Award winning collection A History of Barbed Wire, and read his novella "Camp Allegheny" from the anthology History's Passions edit
I would sacrifice the South for him. I would sacrifice the world

I don't know much about Jeff Mann. I do know that I have read two novels by him in the past week, and they have both left me wanting more. His writing is gritty, downright disgusting at times, yet so beautiful it makes me cry. It is real. That's what it is. It all feels so real.

Purgatory is the story of two young men who are so deep into the Civil War they wouldn't recognize the men they started out as if they saw them in a mirror
Sorry Lena, this was just ok for me. The author a good job of capturing the hardship of the setting and it seemed historically accurate. The characters were reasonably well formed. My issue was with the story arc, it didn't seem to arc as much as waffle between an endless hurt/comfort cycle.
Feb 12, 2016 Therese rated it really liked it

This is the second book by this author I've read, and again, the descriptions were great. The descriptions of the scenery, the food, the everyday life, the weather and the people are so well done.
What especially got me crawling all over while reading where the descriptions of lice and fleas, something that was probably was common under those dire circumstances, and how the soldiers handled it (well, of course they had lice races, making bets and so on).
I love a book where I can totally im
DNF at 45%

This book was not for me AT. ALL!

First, I would like to say that I really did not care for the "obsession" the MC (author?) had for hair.
Let me tell you something: I'm reading m/m books for about 3 years, and I learned that some of the amazing characters I read about, are, how should I put it... Love things, and/or smells, that I don't find highly hum... Tempting??
I definitely learned to appreciate smells "musky" "soapy with undertone of sweaty" etc'...
I'm not gaping in shock when the


I don't need to add more to my review, except that I REALLY ENJOYED the narrating voice of Mikael Naramore.
It's how I imagine a southerner would sound.

I started this book as an audio book, and was immediately attracted to his voice. I switched later to an e-book version only because I wanted to read every free minute: during the lunch pauses at work, while watching TV or while pretending to take part in a conversation.

Good that I have my workout hours and could listen to this book to th
Apr 15, 2012 M rated it really liked it
This book was an interesting blend of history, romance and ugliness that left me feeling quite conflicted. I really enjoyed the premise, and Jeff Mann is gifted in telling tense, atmospheric stories I but was left feeling a bit cheated by the unfinishedness of the ending. Another detracting factor for me was the clunky, old-timey dialogue which, to my modern sensibilities felt awkward (and I have no idea how accurate this was or wasn't since my only reference point for the American civil war is ...more
Jul 15, 2012 T.J. rated it really liked it
Fascinating. The sense of time and place is immaculate and the level of research gone into this novel is obviously extensive. Light readers should be forewarned that this book contains plenty of torture scenes as one of the MC's is a prisoner of war, but it still builds into a wonderful love story with an HEA that is begging for a sequel, even if the love itself seems a bit quick to happen.

Apr 17, 2013 Yuki rated it really liked it
The writing is beautiful. The lyrical narrative makes the reading slower than usually - the reader just have to stop the proces and admire the simple beauty of language.
It's a great story, and it seemed off to me in the one single moment, so I gave it 4 stars.
Lichen Craig
Jun 21, 2012 Lichen Craig rated it it was amazing
(This review appears at the GLBT Bookshelf:

A five-star review should be hard-earned, in order for it to carry weight. A really brilliant piece of literature displays the writer’s ability to perform a few acrobatic feats – this requires a real understanding of the technical aspects of writing. If a writer can do this, and do it in a unique fashion, the book will be inspiring, not merely a good read. With “Purgatory”, Jeff Mann has offered up a gourmet feast of a book
Nile Princess
3.75ish. A bit slower than Fog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal, but just as heartwrenching and gritty. The inclusion of so much poetry made me skim a few lines here and there (Jeff does love his Whitman, doesn't he?) and, at times, it seemed like the torture just wouldn't end, but in between those are such beautiful, poignant moments that it just makes your heart melt.

I LOVE that Drew was big and muscular (when he pulled the wagon out the mud I damn near swooned) and that even though, Ian was ph
Elisa Rolle
Oct 26, 2015 Elisa Rolle rated it it was amazing
2012 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)
John Wiltshire
Feb 01, 2015 John Wiltshire rated it did not like it
Shelves: given-up-on
Uh-huh. Do you know that moment when, innocently searching for something on YouTube, you find yourself in freaky territory? Home surgery? No? You're lucky. I felt a bit like that last night when I settled down for what I thought was going to be a Brokeback Mountain of the Civil War. Even the cover makes it looks like a ... proper novel, doesn't it? No. It's freaky territory. WTF? This book is seriously weird and disturbing. At first I thought it reminded me of bad fan fiction. There's no real pl ...more
A.B. Gayle
Sep 28, 2013 A.B. Gayle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction, shelf-32
I have a confession to make.
I was so worried that there wouldn't be a HEA that I read the end first.
Then, once I knew the answer, I flipped to halfway through and read to the end, and then once that was done, I flipped back to the beginning.
I know, I know. I shouldna' done that, but I actually found it intriguing, seeing how Jeff Mann manipulated the writing to make each subsequent action plausible.
I noted one review condemned the story because of the POV's cowardice.
To understand that, it helps

Big warning up front: this book contains scenes of violence and torture, so if this bothers you, you should stay away from it.

Me? I cannot stay away from "from enemies to lovers" themes, and this book certainly did not disappoint. As you could see from the blurb, the action takes place during the US Civil War, and Drew gets captured by a unit of Southern so
Apr 11, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this, it's gritty and has some seriously hot moments. I guess what makes it a 4 read and not a 5 is the unrelenting tension the author builds. There were no peaks troughs, just one massive build and made me feel a little uncomfortable. Like I needed some down time!
Not for the squeamish, but definitely worth a nosey.
Jun 25, 2012 Bob rated it it was amazing
Jeff Mann is a superb writer. This historial novel blends war,romance, BDSM and food (yes food) into a beautiful work of art. I was there every moment, as Mann's book is written in the moment, so rich in detail, emotion, fear and optimism. This a major work of fiction.
Limor Moyal
Apr 06, 2014 Limor Moyal rated it really liked it
Beautiful !!!
Danyele Johnson
Dec 15, 2013 Danyele Johnson rated it it was amazing
This is the mindset you need to pick and enjoy this book:


I swear, I almost couldn't finish because of all the angst and fear over the ending. I was so worried about both protagonists. However the writing was spot-on, the setting captivating and the premise great. You certainly have enough pull to finish the book, almost too much so that you fear what does happen. To all you HEA lovers out there: (view spoiler)
Vfields Don't touch my happy!
No one can say Jeff Mann can't write and write well. He always has command of his characters and takes the time to give them many layers that allows them to become real to the reader. That being said this was not an easy read due to the heavy subject matter. The pain everyone experienced and inflected on others to survive body and mind was at times overwhelming but honest. I kept thinking about giving up but again Mann maintained such a powerful situation compelled made me to continue to the end ...more
Oct 27, 2014 Ingrid rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m-m
It is harsh, tough, brutal, chilling and all that but it is also painfully moving and tender. Set in a very realistic civil war era, nothing like Gone with the wind. Tomorrow isn't another day. it could mean the difference between live and death.

So all people in search of beach reading, keep on looking. If you want something well written and gritty but with a happy end of sorts, you have found it.
I don't really have anything flowery or relevant to add to any of the many reviews out there already. I can just say its a very good book. There wasn't a single second that I wasnt totally engrossed. It's rare that I'm happy with a HFN but these guys have been through so much I wouldn't want to see what other trials and tribulations the powers that be would see fit to put into motion.
Mar 24, 2016 Juxian rated it it was amazing
This book really fried my brain. In a good way. I love feeling speechless and emotionally messed up after reading a book. And this one made a *very* strong impression on me. There were so many terrible, entirely wrong things happening in this book - on 87% I felt like I was about to break, there was just too much abuse, it was unbearable. And at the same time the love between two main characters, Ian and Drew, is so bright, pure and strong. The book really makes you think about the extremes of a ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
Darkly compelling, steeped in rich details, harrowing and sad, I felt as if I'd stepped into the very daguerreotype on the cover. I've longed for such a story about a male affair between Civil War soldiers.

I look forward to reading the sequel, Salvation, and more from Jeff!
Chrissy M
Dec 04, 2014 Chrissy M rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m, audiobook
This was definitely different from anything I've read before. I thought it was very disturbing at times, but the love story is so beautiful. Very well written by Jeff Mann and I am thankful there is another book, because I need to see how things end up for our MCs.
Nov 18, 2012 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Nice to read literature in a not always so literary genre. Writing style superb, above par and beyond professionally smooth writing. Sex scenes hot and somewhat disturbing but in a provocative way. Expertly researched. Nice nice nice. Recommend.
I'm not even sure why I'm adding this. But I just did.
John Genest
Mar 17, 2012 John Genest rated it really liked it
During the Civil War, a Yankee named Drew is caught by Confederate soldiers and made to endure bindings and beatings by its seargeant's command. By night, he is clandestinely fed and cared for by the sergeant's nephew, Ian, who falls in love with his hulking charge and does not want to dig his grave like the four prisoners that preceded him. This is the plot of Jeff Mann's Purgatory, so named for the mountain where Drew is destined to die, but also analagous of suffering in hopes to be free.

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Jeff Mann’s poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many publications, including Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Laurel Review and The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. He has published three award-winning poetry chapbooks, Bliss, Mountain Fireflies, and Flint Shards from Sussex; two full-length books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine and On the Tongue; a collection of personal essays, Edge: Tr ...more
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