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Alike As Two Bees

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Horses, love, and the tang of thyme and honey...

In Classical Greece, apprentice sculptor Philon has chosen the ideal horse to model for his masterpiece. Sadly, the rider falls well short of the ideal of beauty, but scarred and tattered Hilarion, with his brilliant, imperfect smile, draws Philon in a way that mere perfection cannot.

After years of living among the free and easy tribes of the north, Hilarion has no patience with Athenian formality. He knows what he wants—and what he wants is Philon. Society, friends and family threaten their growing relationship, but perhaps a scarred soldier and a lover of beauty are more alike than they appear.

67 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 2, 2012

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Elin Gregory

19 books190 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,003 followers
July 31, 2020
Not a period I’ve read romance for (that I can think of), so when my automatic recommendations turned this up I pounced on it! Philon is an apprentice stonemason, and as he works on portraying Castor and Pollux, he’s copying from a horse he’s seen on the beach. Her rider Hilarion is clearly interested in him, and Philon’s apprehensive and eager about that… even as Hilarion’s brother, Aristion, starts to bully Philon’s fellow apprentice. Hilarion comes to his rescue, and Philon… well, he falls a bit head over heels.

It’s sweetly done, and avoids the issue of an age gap (since in Greek tradition, it would be a rather older man and a fairly young boy) by having Philon be more or less an adult. Though he gets a serious crush, it’s not “instalove” — it’s quick, but he even acknowledges himself that for now it’s just the beginning of something. I’d be interested to see more of Hilarion’s point of view here, since we only see him from Philon’s point of view.

It’s nice that it doesn’t feel like the story is just there as a wrapper for the romance: the work of the stonemasons goes on and surrounds the budding romance, and each gives the other meaning.

It’s a quick read, and I’d gladly check out more by this author.
Profile Image for Michael Joseph.
Author 9 books39 followers
March 10, 2012
This review was originally written for Speak Its Name. This version contains a bit of a spoiler, so if you don’t want that, read the version that appears at Speak Its Name where it’s been edited out.

Anatolios and Philon are young apprentice sculptors in Classical Greece. Anatolios is a precocious boy of just 13 years. Philon is much older, around 20, and treats Anatolios like a brother. Their master Nikias treats both boys as his own sons. They are both talented, and Anatolios may one day even surpass his master.

The young men and other sculptors are working on a commission Nikias has received from Eutychos, a rich trader who is building a new house that he wants to be sure will impress people. Given leave one day to take their lunch on the beach, the boys encounter a group of men riding horses. Among them is Aristion, Eutychos’ son, as well as his older cousin, Hilarion.

The scarred Hilarion is no beauty, but there’s something about him that makes Philon’s heart go pitter-patter. Apparently the feeling is mutual, but the two barely start their charmingly awkward courtship before they’re distracted by shouts of panic from Anatolios. Aristion, on his big horse, is bullying the young boy and nearly drowns him. Hilarion and his friends come to the rescue and berate Aristion for his bad behavior, but this only infuriates the spoiled brat.

A few nights later there’s trouble with the mules in the sculptor’s yard, and one of the panels Anatolios and Philon have worked hard on is broken. Philon is certain the Aristion is behind the trouble. A few days later, while all of the rest of the sculptors are up at the house site, Philon is alone when Hilarion comes calling. Hilarion admires Philon’s work, as well as the sculptor himself. They finally consummate their growing love in the heat of the afternoon.

After their lovemaking, Hilarion must take his leave. He has to go away but promises to return in a few days. However, several days pass and there’s no sign of Philon’s new lover and no word from him. Philon feels taken advantage of and tries to forget his feelings. But all is not lost. When Philon is set upon by Aristion, Hilarion charges in to the rescue like a knight in shining armor. After smoothing a few ruffled feathers, our two lovers ride off into the sunset.

Alike As Two Bees is a sweet little story. It’s quite short, even for a novella, which is usually a problem for me. But in this case there are no dangling plot lines, no mysterious back-stories crying out to be filled in or impossibly convenient coincidences. It’s a quite surprisingly complete work. I didn’t notice it until I finished the book and was digesting it for review, and perhaps it was even subconscious on the part of the author, but what she’s done is make quite effective use of archetypes. Aristion is quickly identifiable as the typical spoiled rich kid, Nikias the kindly uncle and Eutychos is the nouveau riche fat cat with more money than taste. None of this detracts from the story. It just helps to move it along by subtly giving us familiar character types that we recognize and understand easily. The two lovers are drawn much more fully. You may not know them as well as you might like, but you know them well enough to care about what happens.

If I had to pick out one tiny niggle with the story, it would be with the one and only love scene. It’s communicated in such genteel language that it’s a little hard to figure out who is doing what to whom. But in a way it all fits with the sweetness of the story, so it’s a very minor flaw, at most.

This delightful little story definitely deserves four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Victoria (Eve's Alexandria).
654 reviews380 followers
July 10, 2020
A beautiful sleepy gentle romance set in a mason's yard in ancient Greece, and quite unlike anything I've read in the genre. Lovely delineation of characters and place, with exploration of power within a homoerotic culture, and full of feeling despite being so short. I'll be reading more Elin Gregory as soon as possible.
Profile Image for B G.
2 reviews2 followers
October 9, 2012
When I was first realizing I was gay, I was thrilled to discover (to realize) how many of my favorite stories were really about gay lovers. That is to say, I grew up loving stories of ancient cultures, especially Rome, Egypt and (yes!) Greece. Then to discover that the real relationships of some of my heroes were being subtly turned into best-friendships pissed me off. But not too much. I was all too happy to discover that Achilles loved Patroclus as much as I suspected, that Hercules/Heracles loved his fellow man, and that even Zeus could fall for the charms of a male, especially if he were as beautiful as Ganymede.

The problem is that so many tales of ancient times are worthless. The authors obviously didn't take any time to do any research at all except for badly made movies and old TV shows.

BUT! If you want to be projected back in time, to feel like you are living and breathing in ancient times, then you MUST read "Alike as Two Bees." I don't want to spoil this story for you, okay? I just want to say I feel in love with the story, with the whole atmosphere, and especially Philon and Hilarion. I just wish the story had been longer!

Maybe we will be lucky and get to read more about them and the cast of characters. I can only hope so.

Profile Image for CrabbyPatty.
1,553 reviews169 followers
July 16, 2021
3.5 stars for a historical set in Athens about marble frieze sculptor Philon and Hilarion (I'm not exactly sure what he does, but he's the nephew of the man commissioning the marble work). Their story is sweet and well-told with one non-graphic sex scene. Gregory does a lovely job of setting the scene and era without a ton of details and this was an enjoyable read.

Visit my blog, Sinfully Good Gay Book Reviews
Profile Image for Chiara D'Agosto.
Author 3 books52 followers
January 7, 2023

I've adored it. I wished it could forever, honestly. It was so nice to go to bed at night knowing that this story was waiting for me, and this feeling unfortunately ended too quickly.

I loved Hilarion and Philon SO MUCH. I want to know everything about Hilarion. Like, everything. Why didn't I get to know everything. I'm sad. Philon as well was adorable, as well as his relationship with Nikias and Anatolios. Weird choice of names for some of the characters (Galenos in what looks like IV century Athens made me wonder a little) but that's just me being overly dramatic.

4 stars only because I can't for the love of me bring myself to give 5 to something that although I loved, eventually left me unsatisfied.
Why aren't out there more good romances set in Ancient Greece? :( Please people, go write them, make Chiara happy.
Profile Image for Judyta Szacillo.
172 reviews24 followers
December 20, 2020
It's a romantic story of two young men falling in love in ancient Greece. The romance has a very standard plot, though it is quite sweet and has an air of innocence about it - not because there's no nudity (there is!), but because the main characters are so well-meaning and inexperienced. Sweet it was, but not overly impressive. However, the Author did her research quite well on the chosen background, and I could not help but appreciate her gift of showing me around the world in a natural, inobtrusive way. So it was the world rather than the story that made me give this book four stars.
Profile Image for Em.
488 reviews12 followers
November 19, 2020
Short and sweet, a cute romance set in ancient Greece. I wish it were a little longer - it's well paced and doesn't feel rushed, I just liked the main characters and would have loved more time with them.
Profile Image for Gerry Burnie.
Author 8 books27 followers
August 28, 2012
Gerry B's Book Reviews - http://gerrycan.wordpress.com

As far as I can determine, Alike as Two Bees by Elin Gregory [Etopia Press, 2012] is the debut novella for this author, and as such it is a worthy effort.

Set in ancient Greece the story focuses on Philon, a sculptor’s apprentice, who is characterized as a somewhat shy but talented boy. His character is rounded out be his fellow apprentice, Anatolios, a precocious thirteen-year-old.

Playing opposite them are Aristion, the bratish son of a wealthy patron, and his older cousin Hilarion. Due to Aristion’s bullying of Anatolios, Hilarion and Philon meet and are immediately attracted to one another. However, Aristion remains resentful and even vengeful, and when he threatens Philon, Hilarion comes to his lover’s defence and all is agreeably resolved.

This is a sweet, uncomplicated story that focuses on romance in a romantic setting. It is well written, and the characters are appealing rather than complex. In fact they are rather standard fare. Philon is the struggling good boy, Aristion is the spoiled rich kid, Anatolios is the impish-catalyst, and Hilarion is the mature kid who is attracted to the good boy.

There is nothing wrong with this type of character development, and it makes for a good solid read, but it doesn’t break any new ground, either.

Altogether, Alike as Two Bees is a happy-ever-after story that will pleasantly fill an afternoon at the beach, or an evening curled up in your easy chair. Three and one-half bees.
Profile Image for Susan Roebuck.
Author 5 books109 followers
June 2, 2012
Alike as Two Bees is populated by characters whose energy and exuberance will stay with me for a long time.
The author evokes Classical Greece by portraying the every day life of a group of stone-masons who are under the guidance of fair but stern Nikias.
Our hero is twenty-year old Philon who might be quiet but is skilled at his craft and ever-ready to come to the aid of young Antolios, a wonderful character with a charming mix of child-like naivety and an adult's perception of knowing exactly what's going on.
The antagonist, sneering Aristion, unknowingly brings Philon and scarred Hilarion together.
Elin Gregory's deceptively subtle prose takes the fast paced plot to a satisfying conclusion in the heat of a perfect day. She has the enviable skill of producing rich and deep characters, this time in a story that was hard to put down - it had me glued to the page.
If I have any criticism it perhaps lies in the fact that Alike as Two Bees is too short. The warm characters the author has created deserve more exposure and I feel there is much more in young, feisty Antolios. I'd love to think that I'll meet him again and maybe check up on the adventures of Philon and Hilarion.
Profile Image for Tracey.
1,061 reviews237 followers
February 20, 2015
A very sweet novella, with just a bit steam coming off it. I only wish every romantic scene was written like Elin Gregory's - then they might actually be romantic instead of the ridiculous farces they tend to be. The writing was impeccable, the horses were characters (always a plus), and I loved the human characters. More, please.
582 reviews8 followers
November 17, 2019
A novella that makes you feel like you've visited Ancient Greece - full of familial love, a m/m romance, bullies, and art

Elin Gregory has become one of my favorite authors, and this novella demonstrates once again her skills as a writer. While this story is set in the 5th century BCE, during the time of Pericles, Pheidias and Socrates, it takes place away from the grandeur of Classical Athens and in a nearby small town. And while it evolves into a m/m romance between 19 year old Philon, an apprentice sculptor, and Hilarion, a slightly older, wounded soldier, it's equally about master sculptor Nikias, who sees Philon and the 13 year old Anatolios, another protege, as his foster sons, and the brotherly affection that the two teens have for each other.

Gregory not only makes us feel how sweat and marble dust gets soaked into bronzed skin by the hot Mediterranean sun, but makes us feel how everyday Greeks might have lived and wrestled with the ethos of their times. Other characters, including drunks, bullies, a pompous aristocrat, mules, horses, and even the stone carvings that Nikias' team of sculptors are finishing, combine to make this quick read feel as if you've spent a long, eventful visit with far away friends who have a different way of seeing the world. The Greek convention of the erastes/eromenos is imbued with an unexpected sweetness as Nikias worries, as many fathers do, over the virtue and emotional well being of his young male wards in the face of older male suitors. The romantic leads, Philon and Hilarion, have to navigate the Greek preoccupation with manliness, honor, and sexual roles. As an artist, I especially appreciate Gregory's insight into the ways that an artist's feel for materials shape how they see the world, and how she plays Anatolios' very modern desire for innovation against the Greek aesthetic for the formulaic replication of perfection. Finally, for me, young Anatolios steals the show as the book's heart and soul, his precocious talent and playful energy bringing out the warmth and affection of those around him. A well done novella that makes me want to spend more time with this loose family of ancient artisans.
Profile Image for Penelope Peters.
Author 16 books52 followers
December 28, 2020
A quick and tender historical romance set in ancient Greece and focusing on sculptor Philon and his somewhat higher born lover, Hilarion. I love the setting of ancient Greece, where acceptance of m/m love is more accepted by all and sundry than in other eras (though the rules do differ). Yay for lack of homophobia!

The only trouble I had with the book - and this is so stupid on my part, and is totally a me thing - was the preponderance of Greek names. I told you it was stupid! I had a lot of trouble keeping the characters apart in my head, especially in the case of Philon's friend Anatolios, and the main antagonist of the story, Aristion. Because both names start with the same letter, I was continually tripping over them. Again - me thing, may not apply to all, reader be aware but still enjoy the story.

Super cute story, very much enjoyed, and will absolutely read more of Gregory's work.
Profile Image for Pernilla.
283 reviews7 followers
May 29, 2019
Sweet novella set in ancient Greece about a talented young sculptor's apprentice and a gentleman ex-soldier (or so I assume, since we are never really told what Hilarion does or how he got his scars). The side characters are pretty clichéd, but the budding feelings between the two men ring true.
369 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2020
Enjoyable sweet novella. Would love to read more in this world too as I enjoyed many of the other characters too.
Profile Image for X.
478 reviews
May 25, 2022
Sweet and short - I enjoyed the setting and I think the author depicted the time period well.
Profile Image for Paige.
254 reviews7 followers
June 15, 2022
4.5 stars. Fun and sweet and lovely with the briefest dash of misunderstanding before the happy end.
Profile Image for Cryselle.
303 reviews24 followers
August 7, 2012
3.5 marbles

Elin Gregory draws us into the ancient world of Greece, where democratic ideals didn’t necessarily penetrate to the countryside and the hand that holds the purse rules the world. Lovers are just as sweet in that past. Alike as Two Bees takes us to the sculptors’ yard where beauty we are accustomed to finding in museums is just today’s work.

Philon, plucked from among the stonemasons to train as a sculptor, is old for an apprentice because of his change in trades. He hangs back rather than put himself forward and acts more than he speaks. He’s drawn to Hilarion, the scarred veteran of foreign parts, whose first duty must be to keeping his impetuous cousin Aristion from setting the countryside on its ear. One way or another, the two find ways to be together—duty always calls, and the demands of family take precedence, but Philon and Hilarion manage to find some privacy.

The slightly formal language of the story and the somewhat distant third person keep us from entering entirely into their heads. This actually works best in the one sex scene, where a few lines of breathless dialog and the barest of actions let us create an entire encounter more completely than describing every grunt and thrust could do. A number of important scenes take place in a third party’s POV, which creates a distancing effect—it isn’t even quite clear who the lovers will be until quite far into the story. One could possibly be thirteen year old Anatolios, who is a much livelier and more interesting character than Philon, although he enjoyed nothing more than admonitions to stay away from an older sculptor if the man had been drinking. The forced innocence of the two young men seemed one of the few modern notions grafted onto the past.

Philon is peculiarly innocent for a man who’s lived in the masons’ yard since he was old enough to leave the company of women, and because we don’t see deeply into his head, he comes across as a little simple. Still, he’s attracted the more worldly Hilarion, whose slightly clumsy courtship comes with choice olives and offers to ride double upon his fine mare. It’s cute, sweet, and fraught with difficulties seldom seen in a more industrial world.

At no time does the language break period, and if the turns of phrase are not translations from the Greek as they seem to be, they are very much in keeping with the world and sound very authentic. Alike as Two Bees is a charming look into the human side of antiquity.
Profile Image for Sammy Goode.
628 reviews66 followers
July 23, 2013
Rating is a 2.5

Alike as Two Bees takes us into the world of Greece in ancient times and immerses us in the world of a sculptor, Philon, who has deliberately placed himself in a minor role and strives simply to work well, and remain unseen. He is effective at his attempt until one day while taking a younger boy swimming a nobleman, Nikias, notices him. He, too, has had his share of disappointments and bears the scars to provide it. But Philon, snared by his beautiful handiwork and his proud and courageous soul, captivates him.

In ancient Greece, one holds their virginity in high honor and it is well known that men often only trifle with those beneath them, lust being key, love being absent. Not so for Nikias—he loves, and respects his sculptor, but events plague them and keep them apart and Philon fears he has given the best of himself only to be used and tossed aside.

Into the fray comes another spoilt, violent nobleman who desires to see Philon and his young friend crawl before him. He nearly succeeds in making the sculptor do just that when they are sent to pick up a shipment of new stone from the dock. But again the gallant Nikias intervenes and our sculptor is saved. But, will this be the turning point—will there be love for Philon yet?

This novella boasted a good solid story, Unfortunately it need just a bit more than that. The characterization fell a little flat, the romance between Philon and Nikias was so restrained that it didn’t seem to spark—it didn’t grip me and for that I was truly sorry for I do believe there was the makings of a really good story here.

I understood that we were in Ancient Greece—however this time period in history was rife with m/m sex and relationships and I would have thought given this history, the story would have been less confined and more romance driven.

Elin Gregory has the makings of a really fine author. This story simply needed more, more plot, more in-depth characterization, more romance----more story over all. I would certainly give this author another chance—I look forward to seeing future work.
Profile Image for Lena Grey.
1,544 reviews22 followers
April 8, 2016
Set in Ancient Greece, 'Alike as Two Bees' by Elin Gregory tells the tale of Philon, an apprentice sculptor, and a soldier named Hilarion; how they meet, develop a mutual attraction, and fall in love. The detailed descriptions of the operation of a stone masonry gave me a greater appreciation for the magnificence of Greek architecture. I've seen many pictures of these amazing buildings and statues, but never stopped to think about someone having to carve every detail by hand.

The characters in this story are brilliantly portrayed – Nikias, wise and benevolent; Anatolios, his son, with his naivety and youthfulness; Eutychos, who is wealthy and pompous, and Aristion, his son, a spoiled rich kid and a bully; and of course, the lovers Philon, who is young but not completely naïve, and Hilarion, a kind and just man. Philon and Hilarion see in each other what most people can't: passion, an appreciation for beauty, and someone with whom they can find respect and love. It was quite touching, with a good dose of angst thrown in for good measure, to watch their relationship develop and flourish.

‘Alike as Two Bees’ by Elin Gregory is an endearing love story which is well written, with fabulous characters and a good plot. Although the poetic language is a bit confusing at times, it definitely helps set the historical mood. For a brief story, it covers a lot of ground and neatly ties up all the loose ends. I became quite attached to the characters and, although they ride off into the sunset to their happily ever after at the end of the story, I'd love to read more about them in the future. I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a sweet historical romance where love prevails regardless of the circumstances. Thanks, Elin, for an entertaining read.

NOTE: This book was provided by Etopia Press for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews.
1,772 reviews18 followers
November 11, 2015
Almost as Alike as Mary Renault

There is no higher praise I can give an author than he or she has created an atmosphere, and characters, that would do the late, great Mary Renault proud. Elin Gregory has done this in a remarkably compact, easy flowing, not-without-conflict, tale of ancient Greece and a culture which accepted, if not totally encouraged, MM romance.

While in Philon and Hilarion, Ms. Gregory has come nowhere close to the depictions Ms. Renault gave us of Alexander, Hephaeston, and all the other characters that permeated such masterpieces as Fire From Heaver, The King Must Die, and The Persian Boy, that doesn't mean her main character--Philon--will not win your heart and soul, and that Hilarion will not always be there in your mind as the saving grace.

All the other characters are especially well drawn for such a short novel, and the plot, such as it is, is believable, lovingly engaged, and beautifully detailed. Read it with a glass of wine, some olives and cheese and a little bread touched with honey and thyme and see if you don't agree.
Profile Image for Cathy Brockman.
Author 5 books88 followers
January 13, 2013
The blurb above says it all. Philon is a sculptor’s apprentice and is using Hilarion’s horse as his model. But it’s not only Hilarion’s horse that has caught his eye. Hilarion appreciates the fine work of Philon but appreciates the young man even more.

I found this a very sweet, loving, moving, and well written romance. The names and towns are slightly hard to pronounce but I know that is because it is old age. It doesn’t hurt the book at all. I found it heartwarming and sexy, I without any explicit sex at all.. It’s beautiful like a fine work of art. And when at the end you know why the title, yeah I cried. (not a sad cry)

I recommend this to anyone that likes horses, knights in shining armor (no real knights involved), fine art, sculptors, beaches, and historical Romance with a happy ever after. Also even if ya don’t think you like historical romance, try this one you may be a convert. I am.

Profile Image for The TBR Pile *Book review site*.
1,834 reviews54 followers
May 7, 2013

I have an Italian friend who makes the best spaghetti sauce ever, and all that’s in it is olive oil, fresh tomatoes, onions, pepper, and herbs. Sometimes from the simplest ingredients comes the best meals ever. Needless to say this story is simple as the plot nor the characters are that original but I found that all the ingredients complimented each other so well that it made a very flavorful story despite the unoriginal template.

This has an almost Dirty Dancing happy for now feel to it. You don’t see how the relationship could possibly work despite how badly we want it to work, not because the main characters are gay but because there are certain expectations for males of that time even when they are allowed to dally with other men. However the book doesn’t end feeling like a happy for now but instead we are given hope, a very simple but nice touch.
Profile Image for Catherine Cavendish.
Author 36 books391 followers
October 14, 2012
I can say this because I read this a few weeks ago and it is with me still. This is a beautifully written story set in classical Greece, and Elin Gregory manages to create such depth in her characters and story and such a strong atmosphere, I was sad to reach the last page.I have the strongest feeling there is much more to come from this writer and I look forward to reading it. 'Alike As Two Bees' is such a lovely story.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews

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