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Whistling in the Dark

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,215 ratings  ·  175 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 sa
Paperback, 340 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Lethe Press (first published December 10th 2008)
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Tamara Allen Hi, Katy. Yes. All my books do and always will. Thanks for asking.

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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  1,215 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Irina Elena
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
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, m-m, favorites
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
Apr 10, 2013 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
Audible headphones_icon_1

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
May 27, 2014 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
May 08, 2009 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
Feb 07, 2013 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
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews, m-m, favorites
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
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
This is true Tamara Allen sweetness here: a quiet little story full of hope in a bleak time.

Sutton and Jack are WWI veterans trying to figure out how to get back into civilian life after the war. Jack runs an emporium which is struggling because of the economic times. He's also suffering from PTSD, unable to sleep most nights. Sutton suffered a hand injury that has prevented him from getting back to playing the piano, and he's running out of ways to make it on his own in NYC.

I really liked the
Sep 03, 2013 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.
I've now read Whistling in the Dark twice and I was shocked to realise I never wrote a review for it. So, it's about time to fix that.

Every time I read something written by Tamara Allen, I regret the fact that she's not a more prolific writer. Her novels are always characterised by a great sense of time and location, well-rounded characters and excellent writing.

Whistling in the Dark presents all these features and infuses them with a lovely sense of melancholy and tenderness that make this
Jan 11, 2009 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
K.Z. Snow
Feb 23, 2010 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.
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
Aug 15, 2009 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
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This was excellent as a historical, but much angstier than I was expecting. The story takes place about a year after WWI, and both MCs are working through some rough mental anguish in the aftermath of their homecomings, one due to the war and general grief, the other due to his inability to conform to societal and familial expectations, mostly due to his sexuality but not completely.

There are so many layers here, and they all provide a fascinating glimpse into the time period. It's all
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Janeylou by: Need to read now
Shelves: 0000-sh-recs
4.5 stars
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow - this author knows how to create a historical atmosphere. New York 1919, clubs, jazz, drinks before prohibition. I can see it, all, even the smoke of the cigars.

Suttons desperation and cluelessness is as evident as Jack's overpowering energie, which seems to be based as much in enthusasm as in fear that slowing down will weak up the horrors of his memories.

Okay - this book was perfect. I'm not able to put in words how much I enjoyed diving into the life this two men. It's not a fast read,
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mm, historical, musicians
What a great book! I loved the story, the characters and the writing. :)
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.
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt
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.

this was such a sweet and tender escape from real life. sutton and jack are two young men, scarred from world war I and their respective personal misfortunes, who fall into an easy but devoted relationship. I haven't read any wwi-era gay romance before, and I really freaking loved it. (and only a little bit because they reminded me, despite it being a differen
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those looking for a sweet gay break in this year of hellfire
Recommended to Eavan by: Kaija
There's a little bit of a story with this book.

If you know me intimately enough to find out I write (bad) historical fiction and publish it as fanfic online, then you'll know how similar this story is to my own large one. Please don't sue me Tamara--trust me when I say I hadn't heard of this and was pretty stoked when an anonymous message recommended it to me on my blog.

Well, a handful-of-a-lot months later I found an e-copy through the LA library, and 3 days later I was done. I never wanted to
Mark Probst
Mar 31, 2009 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
Angel Martinez
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
A sweet m/m romance, steeped in the attitudes and issues of the time (post WWI) I thoroughly enojyed this one. Oh, yes, there are some slow spots, especially at the beginning, but the characters are marvelous and the writing transportive.

Before the sexual revolutionm,before 'gay rights' was even a thought, these boys struggle with a society where gay men are shut away in institutions as mentally ill, where they can be arrested simply for talking to someone at a known 'pick up' spot, and where mo
Jul 02, 2016 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 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Gah, I hate to do this. Because there's a lot to admire in this book. The scene setting is excellent, the characterisation is great. I just found it a bit boring. On page sex might have saved it, but, alas, we get fade to black. I put it down at the start of a hectic week at work and when the weekend came round and I had some free time, I simply could not find the drive to start it again. Allen is talented, I have read and enjoyed her books before, the pacing and plotting was just entirely off o ...more
Stacy Bell
Jan 09, 2014 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.
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.
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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.” 11 likes
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