I can see how this was a precursor to the award-winning For Real. The storyline is essentially the same, with an educated and emotionally isolated manI can see how this was a precursor to the award-winning For Real. The storyline is essentially the same, with an educated and emotionally isolated man being beguiled by the earthy charms and joyousness of a younger lover. However, this story is both more and less complicated.
Ash has pretty severe mental illness, and a LOT of the book is an uncomfortable exploration of how much he hates himself or being bi-polar, and how paralyzed he feels by his diagnosis and treatment. Also, he's never fully respectful of Darian, who is gorgeous (he notices) and has more emotional intelligence than a turnip (Ash doesn't really get that).
If you dislike the clingy moments where someone is obviously making an ass of themselves, avoid this book, because it happens a lot, but on the whole, I think there are a lot of interesting themes.
One of my interesting observations is that this is a British book, and doesn't appear to make any concessions or explanations to an American audience. If you don't know what an Oyster card is or how people get around, or some other little nuances of relating, I think it might be a slightly rough go. I though that was cool, myself.
Read if: You don't mind unequal romances, you like smart characters getting called out for being assholes when they are assholes.
Skip if: You have an embarrassment squick, you don't read gay romances.
Read also/instead: For Real, by the same author....more
A satisfying little short story about two people who can't be in love but obviously are, and what they do to deal with it. It's not one of her more caA satisfying little short story about two people who can't be in love but obviously are, and what they do to deal with it. It's not one of her more carefully researched novels, but it does have all the right emotional beats and I felt like cheering at the end....more
For a romance novel, this book has a lot of complicated soul-searching and elaborately described sex. For an erotica novel, it has a lot of satisfyingFor a romance novel, this book has a lot of complicated soul-searching and elaborately described sex. For an erotica novel, it has a lot of satisfying emotional connection and tender acceptance.
In case you couldn't tell from the description, the cover, or the other reviews, it's explicit M/M BDSM erotica. I'm not recommending it to my mom, for sure. (Turns off Facebook share). But for something that could be trite, or rote, or soulless, Alexis Hall has managed to thread the needle with amazing accuracy.
A story about an age gap romance is tricky. One with different class, income, and aspirational levels is really hard to make convincing as an equitable and reasonable relationship, but Hall really manages.
All of the conflict in this story was pleasingly reasonable. Like, it was still a little frustrating that the communication difficulties cost them so much pain, but it's something that I could believe and understand.
In all, it is not the book for everyone, but if you like id-tastic fanfic about two dudes working out how to be in a relationship, here's a published book for you.
Read if: You know you like this sort of story or you're an adventurous romance reader.
Skip if: The idea of people hurting each other as a form of affection makes you uncomfortable.
Also read: "Theft of Assets, Destruction of Property", a fanfic by a writer called "lightgetsin". It's (stay with me here) a really charming, loving, adaptive romance involving Neville Longbottom and Draco Malfoy. It really is that good....more
I find these books strangely comforting -- there's just something about how the interlocking stories of rich and poor and magic and power that makes tI find these books strangely comforting -- there's just something about how the interlocking stories of rich and poor and magic and power that makes them very satisfying. The romance beats are solid, and I appreciate all the texture of a London that is not confined to Mayfair and Whitehall.
This particular one is sort of reminiscent of the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes stories -- full of mud and money and obscure organizations that work through graft, inertia, and the efforts of good people.
I especially appreciated that there were so many women. It's easy even for women to write historical adventure stories that lack women as actors, but this book has several powerful female magic users, and they are different and unique.
And yeah, I love the romance of it, the dissolute and confident lord who sees no problem with being who he is, and the much less rich and powerful practitioner who is aware of his danger at every turn, and how can they learn to meet in the middle?
Read if: You like Courtney Milan stories and would like to see a gay relationship in the same kind of historical setting.
Skip if: M/M romance is not your thing, or you are excited about elaborately codified magical systems.
Also read: Sorcerer to the Crown, which is not exactly a romance, but is about different kinds of magic in London....more