For some reason, I have a thing for medical stuff, especially doctors. I liked the dichotomy of the suave, confident Julian when he was in his officeFor some reason, I have a thing for medical stuff, especially doctors. I liked the dichotomy of the suave, confident Julian when he was in his office wearing his lab coat, versus the shy man he was when not at work. Great complementary match for oil rig engineer Jackson. I LOVED their flirting, loved the way their relationship progressed, loved the secondary characters, and loved the small town Canada setting. What kept this from being higher rated for me, however, was that was started out as a fun, light-hearted read soon turned really serious and dark, with quite a few bad things happening, and I felt like it was overkill to have so much external conflict. To me, the second half of the book seemed a lot more like a melodramatic chick lit novel than a romance, but I have a high sensitivity to stuff like that....more
Take two Victorian era gentleman scholars -- one a mechanical genius and the other wounded physically, mentally, and emotionally when his fiancee leftTake two Victorian era gentleman scholars -- one a mechanical genius and the other wounded physically, mentally, and emotionally when his fiancee left him after an accident took one of his arms -- put them together on a lush tropical paradise of a deserted island, and what you get is an exciting yarn full of passion, adventure, and unexpected tenderness. Jonathan tells the story in first person about his wonderment when, after being sure he was going down with the ship in a storm, he awakes in an abode full of books and clockwork devices, the home of a Marcus, a caring man who has stayed there by choice for many years in order to live his life in peace and not have to hide his true self from polite society. As Jonathan heals from his shipwreck and learns to become more skilled with the new arm Marcus has made him, the two work on the project that is dearest to Marcus' heart: clockwork wings that will help him fly. Jonathan feels stirrings deep in his gut when he thinks of Marcus, the same stirrings he's felt before in the presence of men whose brains, work, and manner he admired, but it comes to realize that it may be something more.
Christine Danse's exotic story was all I hoped for and more after I read the blurb. It is a joy to watch the friendship, trust, and caring of the two men develop, and to see their growing need and desire for one another, emotionally as well as physically. Both men are well rounded and well drawn, and it was easy to see what attracted them to each other on all the various levels. The love scenes are both sensual and tender, and the steampunk aspects, descriptions of Marcus' machines and their workings, are well explained yet not overdone. The language fits the time and mood of the story wonderfully without ever being clunky or burdensome. My only regret was that the story didn't go on longer, but it made me smile, laugh, and maybe even swoon just a bit. For readers who want something a little different that still includes a solid romance, Island of Icarus is an excellent choice.
From the opening lines, I was pulled in to Dr. John Williams' enthralling first person story. He starts us out with a preface, a bit of an introductioFrom the opening lines, I was pulled in to Dr. John Williams' enthralling first person story. He starts us out with a preface, a bit of an introduction and his reasons for writing it all down, which I enjoyed because it allowed us to get immediately inside his head, making him a very well-drawn and likable character, a true gentleman. When Lady Cockburn comes to him with her worries of her husband being blackmailed, Dr. Williams vows to do his best to get to the bottom of things for her, all very discreetly, of course. Then we meet Cousin Cyril, scientist turned amateur detective, who always seems to be a step ahead of Williams, certainly with more experience of the seedier side of London. This leads us to Johnny Rice, a male prostitute and the best friend of Nelly, the young man who was murdered.
Dr. Williams is surprised when he learns from Johnny that not only can a person of the lower classes be intelligent and charming, but that a young man can be beautiful. In order to help Cyril discover Nelly's murderer and exonerate Sir Hugh, Williams and Johnny must spend a great deal of time together, and it's to Dr. Williams' credit that he's willing to change some of his lifelong beliefs in the face of other evidence, including his beliefs about the wrongness of men loving men. He's also surprised to learn that some other gentlemen of his acquaintance enjoy the sexual attentions of men, and the struggle he goes through, both with this information and his own feelings, are very well done, not an abrupt overnight change, but realistically seen over time as he and Johnny get to know each other. The romance in this story is very subtle, so subtle that it took me some time to realize who would have the main relationship in the story; much more of the focus was on the mystery side. There is only one short scene that could by any stretch of the imagination be called a sex scene, but there are scenes of great tenderness and affection.
The House in Birdgate Alley is a very well-written, throughly enjoyable story that plunges the reader headlong into late 19th century London. I'm very impressed with Mr. Viz' ability to write in a style that sounds as if it was written over one hundred years ago, with perfect language, voice, and tone, both for the characters of the upper classes, and for the Cockney voices and sensibilities of the others. I will be reading other stories by Anel Viz as soon as possible, and hoping for others featuring some of these characters in the future.