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Whistling in the Dark

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  838 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
New York City, 1919.
His career as a concert pianist ended by a war injury, Sutton Albright returns to college, only to be expelled after a scandalous affair with a teacher. Unable to face his family, Sutton heads to Manhattan with no plans and little money in his pocket but with a desire to call his life his own.

Jack Bailey lost his parents to influenza and now hopes to
Paperback, 340 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Lethe Press (first published December 10th 2008)
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This is probably not going to be a proper review - not even a bullet one. I am so tired. And I even have things to do today.

All I'm going to say is that this is a beautiful, heartwarming, believable, almost flawlessly written novel that is as much a story of friendship, finding your place in the world and overcoming all sorts of hardships (I can't seem to find a way not to make it sound terribly cliché) as it is a romance. The only reason why a. it took me two weeks to read it, and b. I only rat
Too anodyne for me. I want a spark, something. At least it transports you to the 1910s in no time.


Too slow, too average, too bland. I liked the shop, the music, the environment, the lifestyle, the after-war theme. But details and surroundings are nothing if there are not worthy and memorable characters to focus on.

I think Tamara Allen is not for me.
Kaje Harper
Mar 19, 2012 Kaje Harper rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, m-m, historical
This was a wonderful book, that had the truth and flavor of a historical without any loss of immediacy and connection. Sutton is sweet and honorable and a little lost, and will go straight to your heart. Jack is wild and determined and wounded, and carries on with gallant courage behind the mask of not giving a damn. There are moments of humor and moments that will break your heart. I haven't read anything by this author yet that hasn't been beautifully written and emotionally satisfying. Highly ...more


I knew I knew I knew it!

You can ask me HOW COULD I KNOW?

Whistling in the Dark was just my SECOND book by Tamara Allen, and the first one, Downtime, I rated with ONLY 3 stars!

Let me explain you something:

-there are authors I read, rate with 3 stars and I know, I probably NEVER EVER read anything by these authors in my life again.
-and there are authors I read, rate with 3 stars and I know I just NEED to read more of their works. Tamara Allen belo
Jun 03, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it


I love Tamara Allen. Her books feel like you’re reading something special. Every one feels like a treasure. I don’t often use the word “delightful”, but it works perfectly to describe “Whistling in the Dark”.

Her cast of characters in this story, much like in every other story I’ve read of hers, are like family. And she brings you into the fold. Accepted. Cozy. :)

Sutton is a down and out son of a railroad mogul, who, rather than go home to where he’s not accepted, he tries his luck living i
Jun 27, 2012 Jenre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-m, historicals, romance
Why I Bought the Book: This has a bit of a story behind it. You see, I didn't actually buy this book I was given it about 3 years ago. I had just started to guest review for Reviews By Jessewave (yes, I have been doing that for three years!) and Wave sent me the book to review because she knew I liked historicals. Then there was a bit of a mix up (as can happen when you're juggling several reviewers) and someone else reviewed the book instead before I got chance to read it. Wave told me to keep ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Sheri rated it liked it
Ho-hum, I tried. I really really did.
I wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't fantabulous for me either.

It was...a beautiful tale of two men falling in love despite the world telling them they shouldn't (or couldn't).
It was...a first-class cast of adorable and sweet characters.
It was...sad, made me a little mad, and finally a lot glad.
It was...slow and smooth, but perhaps too slow at times
It was...m/m that I would love for my mom to read (seriously, I think she would love this)
It was...worth p
Oct 30, 2009 JenMcJ rated it it was amazing
This was a great tale of romance at it's best that also happens to be a m/m story. The story was fully engaging and both the heroes were likeable and relatable.

Set just after WWI and about 4 months prior to prohibition, both heroes are back from the war with their own demons, dreams and desires. Relating to each other on different levels in almost every way, slowly they find that two different people can become one perfect couple.

My only issue with this book is the almost too accepted homosexu
Mar 26, 2013 Katharina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history

I'm becoming such a big fan of this author. Tamara Allen brings the early 20th century alive in a way that makes you believe you can actually smell, taste, hear, and see it. The increasing popularity of jazz, of the radio, the traumatic experiences of young men having served in the first world war, this all gets a stage here, becomes a part of this beautiful story of two young men trying to survive in New York City, where the neighbourhood can be as hostile and dangerous as it can birth true
May 04, 2016 Em rated it it was amazing
This book won't be for everyone, it's extremely slow paced, very sad at times and almost a bit depressing. To top it off it's fade to black and I must admit after such a long build up I was a bit disappointed. Having said that, I couldn't put it down, I love historical romances and while it was a bit heavy at times, it all came together really rather well. Fantastic ending too.
Apr 21, 2014 ttg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m-m, favorites, reviews
4.5 stars - I’m going to start by explaining why this book has been on my TBR pile since June 2012. The thing is, I’ve read other works by Tamara Allen…and I’ve LOVED THEM. To pieces. With immense and overflowing joy that makes me want to go outside and sing (badly) to my poor neighbors and to the café downstairs and to the overworked clerks at the drug store across the street. “There she goes again...reading Tamara Allen,” they’ll say as I serenade in the paper towel section to the handsome Bra ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
The main appeal of the book is that it's a gay romance that takes place in the Jazz Age, and it is a very sweet book. It's main flaw is pacing; it kind of just goes on and on, and a lot of things happen, particularly in the second half of the book, but I think there are just too many plot threads, and everything gets wrapped up in a nice bow, and this is a book that could have stood to be shorter.

There are also some instances where I feel like we, the readers, don't get enough information for s
Feb 02, 2010 Kassa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly lovely story in a brilliantly crafted world with charming characters that draw you into a story so engaging and absorbing, you wish it never had to end. But all stories must end and this one ends on a wonderfully romantic note that will resonate with readers and keep this as a must read in the future. With an attention to detail and descriptive prose, this story takes the time to develop and let the characters fully emerge. The slow blooming romance and lack of explicit sex is well worth ...more
K.Z. Snow
Feb 01, 2011 K.Z. Snow rated it it was amazing
Incredible novel. The kind of book that makes other writers in the same genre want to throw in the towel, because they'll never be this good. I loved it beyond expression.
Another 5 star for me.
A fantastic book set in New York in the years after the end of WWI.
2 damaged men coming together. A true love story.
Dec 17, 2014 Nova rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mm, historical, musicians
What a great book! I loved the story, the characters and the writing. :)
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
Another one I have to return to later. DNF at 6%.
Chris, the Dalek King
After being thrown out of his college for being caught in the arms of a teacher, Sutton Albright, headed to New York. To find a place for himself. To figure out how he can move on without the music that lives in his head. And to, more importantly, avoid the disappointment of his family and friends once they hear of his untimely dismissal. New York has very little to offer, though, in the way of welcoming parties, and soon Sutton is homeless, nearly penniless, and running out of things to pawn. A ...more
Nancy Carbajal
Jun 22, 2014 Nancy Carbajal rated it really liked it
What I've read of Tamara Allen's writings, I've enjoyed. Thanks to a friend I've once again been transported into the lives of two young men in love. Barely into their twenties, both Jack and Sutton have been to war, are gay at a time when it's illegal, dangerous and both in their own different ways, find a deep love for each other. Sutton, shy, cultured and from a world vastly different than cocky Jack....finds himself in New York trying to find his way after a failed affair. Jack takes him in ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
I picked this up, intending to read it for the Scavenger Hunt, and realized I had already read it. Unfortunately, not remembering that I'd even read it means I don't remember enough to leave a review, but I do remember loving it as I do all Allen's books.
Stacy Likes Spicy Sausage
Jan 09, 2014 Stacy Likes Spicy Sausage rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I didn't finish reading this (and I probably never will since it was a book I checked out through interlibrary loan). I read to about page 120 and decided that I'd just move on to another book because it was boring the pants off of me.
May 18, 2012 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t want this gem to end. Jack, Sutton and the rest of the cast of characters were so real. At times I felt as though I was reading a movie script.
Jul 03, 2016 Wende rated it really liked it
It was so slow getting into this book. Jack was had a martyr personality. He was trying to do what he felt was right even if it hurt him. I think both main character were on a slow decline to doing themselves in. They had all but gave up on life because of what they had endured in the war. Sutton was from a rich family and felt shame and did want to go home in what he considered less than manly. These two flawed men were idea together. Jack needed the stability that being with Sutton provide and ...more
Dec 30, 2015 Bo rated it it was amazing
Lovely, Lyrical, Loving

This story is a slow-building romance which takes place in the wake of World War I in New York City, around the Bowery and in other haunts where the newly emerging avant-garde crowd are likely to haunt. It has a host of wonderful (and some terrible) characters, headed by Sutton and Jack, and rounded out by people (and a pet crocodile) who get into your heart and mind over time and stay there.

Having grown up in New York City following World War II, I remember reading about
Sarah Goodwin
Apr 22, 2014 Sarah Goodwin rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
rating: 4/5

A really sweet romance set in 1919 New York City that surprisingly is full of pre-prohibition historical accuracy; from the period speak to the descriptions of post-war NYC, Allan doesn't skimp on the history despite the "romance" genre.

The Great War left ex-soldier Sutton and Jack lost and broken. Sutton's attempt at normal fell apart when he was expelled from school for having an affair with a male teacher. Embarrassed and worried about his family's reaction, he decides to try and
Mark Probst
Apr 07, 2009 Mark Probst rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while I’ll read a book that will literally sweep me off into another world and hold me there, in a magical trance. Whistling in the Dark is one of those novels, and while reading it, I began to feel that I had no business being a writer as nothing I write will ever compare.

Tamara Allen uses a very light touch to show the New York City of 1919 as she recreates a post-war Mecca vividly describing the birth of prohibition, jazz, and radio stations; underground homosexual parties; au
Jun 14, 2010 Alex rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, queer, romance
After seeing this posted as a giveaway, I considered buying it, but I have a long list of books to read, so it got set aside. After an author I like recommended it as a favorite, and gave a favorable description, I gave in and ordered it (along with Allen's other book Down Time).

I loved it. I tagged it as a romance, but it's really not, although the romantic interests of two men is the central focus of the story. It's about so much more (war, fighting, being who you are, freedom, struggles, the
Elizabeth H.
Considering the ratings and reviews for Whistling in the Dark, I was disappointed in this book. I basically had to force myself to finish it, and there are two major reasons.

First, the book is too long. I really do prefer longer novels and am often frustrated when I can finish a "novel" in one night. (I do read very quickly.) But long for the sake of long? That's not good either. I feel that the author stretched her material. She needed a good editor who could have guided her in reducing the te
Feb 28, 2010 Helen rated it really liked it
Whistling in the Dark is a heartwarming and poignant historical romance set in New York in the aftermath of World War I. It's the story of two men, both damaged by the war in different ways, who are drawn together first by fate, then by friendship and finally by love.

Sutton Albright, son of a rich Kansas businessman, has just been expelled from college and, too ashamed to face his parents, travels to New York to look for work. Here he meets Jack Bailey, who is desperately trying to keep his late
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This author has been published under the pen name James Allen.
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“Jack hadn’t thought of love as a promise before—a promise that, even when the world was falling down around him, would stay kept. But without Sutton saying a word, he knew that there would be comfort when he couldn’t sleep tonight. And tomorrow and the day after, there would be a home to go to, even if it was no more than a pair of arms around him and a head tucked close to his in the darkness.” 9 likes
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