Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Phoenix” as Want to Read:
The Phoenix
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Phoenix

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Like Tess of the d'Urbervilles or The Woman in White, this Victorian novel is replete with plot twists, years-long detours, providential meetings, villainy, and a great deal of drama. It differs from most other Victorian novels in that the main characters who meet and fall in love are both men, one an adopted son with a dark secret and Dickensian background who has taken o ...more
Paperback, 343 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Writers' Collective (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Phoenix, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Phoenix

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  308 ratings  ·  43 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I bought this book after seeing all the positive reviews and hoping to read an entertaining historical novel. I was sorely disappointed. This book was uninspired and flat just like most pulp romance novels out there. The supposedly victorian setting could be just any old timey idea of such a place, it makes little difference. Drop a few names (Bernard Shaw, Aubrey Beardsley, Florence Nightingale) and you are in business. The descriptions are insipid, the plot lines simplistic and the anachronism ...more
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who loves good historical fiction
Recommended to Peggy by: I was lucky enough to receive a signed copy from the author hers
This is one story you don’t want to miss. It had me crying before I got past chapter two and laughing halfway through chapter eight. The book is a marvel of passionate difficulties without ever feeling like an emotional rollercoaster.

There were a few point of view problems with description of what the POV character did not see but they were not severe enough to interrupt the flow. Altogether, the writing is superb, evocative. I found some details a bit jarring, not because they were out of place
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like historical fiction with realistic people
Recommended to Dann by: Amazon reviews
I never wrote a book review before but after reading some of the others on here I guess I couldn't do much worse because they don't even sound like the same story.

I won't rehash the plot because it's complicated, just the way I like them. Life is complicated! I don't like books that are too easy and wrap everything up with a little pink bow at the end. People get hurt in real life. People get hurt in The Phoenix, too--physically and emotionally. Both Dr. Nick and Kit St. Denys grow and change d
Sep 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, doctors, m-f
This is pretty good, but the ending? Not so much. I felt like the story was wrapped up in a paragraph and I just didn't like the resolution at all. But that could just be me. I'm still giving it high stars, because for all that the ending annoyed me, the rest of the story was enjoyable. Very well developed, with nice depth without being too much.
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written, intense love story set in late 1880’s spanning decades and continents. Clearly well researched and intricately plotted, the book hardly makes a misstep as the love affair between two men is besieged by numerous obstacles and outside influences. The complex characters and engrossing plot combine to create a wonderfully lyrical and moving story which will easily stand the test of time. Fans of literature and historical fiction particularly should be sure to pick this ...more
Edina Rose
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is a captivating. I could not let go of the characters. The love between the two men is violent, total, intoxicating, demanding but also nurturing, tender, caring, pure. It is simply amazing. Secondary characters are great as well.

And I can't forget the words written by Kit for Nico:

Without the sanction of society
Without the sanction of the church
Without the sanction of God
I love you

Kit tried so hard to stop loving Nico who was so different from him, but he failed. Nico tried so hard
Miz Love
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Phoenix begins in London, 1882, with the main character, Jack Rourke, a beautiful young Artful Dodger, straight out of Oliver Twist (a delightful coincidence that Artful Dodger’s name was Jack as well, which solidified young Rourke’s boyish rogue image in my mind from the first scene).

Jack and his twin, Michael, whose health is frail, are the sons of the demon-in-the-flesh, Tom Rourke. The boys, along with their mother, suffer brutality at the hands of the monster, which eventually leads to
Sylvester Kuo
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, glbt
The Phoenix is a rather cute little book, albeit a little bit pretentious. I will explain. So essentially it's gay romanc fiction set in the 1880 spreading over decades, Kit is a former convict whom, like Pip in The Great Expectations, inherited a large fortune and a theatre business in which he is both the owner and the lead actor. Nick on the other hand grew up in a small village and became a doctor to help the poor in urban ghetto. Kit is a libertine who is looking for something different whi ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf-not-for-me
Jack Sue. Pretentious. Maybe one day when I'm running out of books in this genre.
Blake Fraina
Feb 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Traditionally, historical love stories are set against a backdrop of war or political intrigue (think Gone With the Wind or any of Mary Renault's many epic novels). As I'm more interested in culture than politics, I've never been much of a fan of this literary genre. That's why it was with surprise and delight that I discovered Ruth Sims's The Phoenix. This is a sweeping historical romance that plays out against the theatrical goings on of nineteenth century London and New York. A veritable feas ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Despairing of this genre, I recently decided to read other reviewers lists of reviewed reads. Something I'd enjoyed and reviewed by others as 4 or 5 stars, I scrolled through reviewers' other reviews. (Did that make sense)?
Anyway, I happened upon a reviewer who is also a writer, someone who writes in depth reviews and chanced my luck.
I'm pleased I did. This novel (a lengthy read) kept me hooked from the first page.
Sick to death of the blatant pornography in the vast majority of the M/M books I'v
May 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Ah, what to say? what to say? At which point did I start not enjoying this unfortunate tale of a romance? At which point did I become disillusioned with its promise? It was when Miss King entered the scene. It was wrong, all wrong – the plotting, the drama, the emotional roller coaster that provided neither relief nor resolution. Everything was too much about it! A test of love for naught! Alas! Alas, this blasphemy of misfortune! Away!
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly one of the best stories I've ever read.
Elisa Rolle
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
2009 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-e-things, queer, lgbtq
This was great. I enjoyed it.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If u want to read an intense but realistic love story, you're on the right page..

The story is messy, the characters are flawed.. but that's how life is.. you will find yourself tsking.. you will glower at Nick many times.. but you will come to love him as much as Kit as you go along..

It's a refreshing storyline.. how I can't explain because afterall it has the same angsty main characters which was sometimes irritating.. but I still couldn't leave the book, I was actually glued to it..

So yes so
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Fun but quite predictable and a bit melodramatic. Every victorian cliche is in this book, but it was still fun.
Jan 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-historical
What a joy to read this book proved to be. From the very first page I was drawn in with the action, was instantly attracted to the characters and was very impressed how with so few strokes of her pen, Sims managed to draw the situation, the era, the environment and the characters. Language is certainly Sims’ gift but she doesn’t drown you in it. It’s an intelligent read, but steers clear of being a morass where the words become more important than the story itself.

Jack Rourke and his sickly twin
Jeff Erno
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-historical
The Phoenix is an epic historical saga that chronicles the lives of two English boys raised at the end of the nineteenth century. Jack Rourke is introduced as a troubled youth living in a ghetto district of London, attempting as best he can to care for himself and his ailing twin brother Michael. The parents of the twins are both abusive, especially Jack’s father Tom. He beats his wife and sons mercilessly, until eventually his wife leaves him, abandoning her sons in the process. In a fit of rag ...more
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2009 rated it liked it
This compelling Victorian saga brings together two men. The first, Kit St. Denys (starts off as Jack Rourke), grew to the doorstep of manhood as a gutter rat in the slums of London. He suffered from poverty, a weakling brother, a prostitute mother, and a brutally abusive father. The one silver lining in his life was, by luck, that he established a connection with the theater, and began an acting career that would eventually lead to fame and riches, but only after Kit’s mother leaves them, his br ...more
Alysa H.
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In very broad strokes, this reminded me of another neo-Victorian MM romance novel, Laura Argiri's The God in Flight , which is one of my Favorite Ever Books Ever. The Phoenix never quite reached the same heights for me, but I would definitely recommend it for fans of the genre. You know who you are.

Sims did a great job capturing little details that made her various 19th Century locations come alive. She obviously did a lot of research about slum conditions in London and New York, about country
Romancing the Book
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, romance, m-m
Review by Jen: When I was arranging for Ruth Sims to be a guest at Romancing the Book, we were going to originally promote The Phoenix (that changed as our talks progressed; you can read her interview here). Part of the promo was for me to review The Phoenix. I jumped at the chance as I'd been hearing about the book for a couple years, was intrigued, but never found myself picking up a copy.

The Phoenix is a gay love story set in Victorian England and America. Before I get into my review, I want
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good, slashreaders
SlashReaders: I first looked at this book and there wasn't a whole lot of information on it so I didn't go for it right away. But finally I did. I mean I love it. The back of the book tells you more about the author than it does about the story it's self and to be honest with you that was enough to make me curious enough to read the book, "Ruth Sims is a cookie-backing Midwestern grandma who whips up meals from scratch and uses a flower pot as a chicken roster--and who has hardly ever ventured b ...more
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Epic Romance Lovers
The Phoenix is very much a character driven story. Characters that are headstrong, determined, aggressive, and flawed. They don't always do what's right, or what's expected and best, but they stay true to their character and their temperament. Weighing in at 400 plus pages, there is more than enough scope to give the reader a full understanding of the characters. It also allows for fully developed backstories to be told.

This is the second book that I've read of Ms. Sims' and as much as I loved

Wow. I love this book. The writing is sparse and quick and beautiful. So much is said in dialogue vs purple prose (which I love, typically). So good. One of my favorites. Very glad I took a chance and bought the paperback. Highly recommended, like a lot. It is super angsty and dark and twisted and romantic and dramatic and just wonderful. Spoiler spoiler SPOILER!! (view spoiler) ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
My absolute favorite book genre is m/m historical fiction, but this was a huge disappointment. I hate when authors use infidelity as a plot point (or using it at all) as well as keeping the main characters apart more then together during the entire book, that does not build any loving feelings from me towards their relationship. Also, so much unneeded drama, if I did not have unneeded drama currently in my own life maybe I would be alright with it, but I do so part of my low rating is personal, ...more
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m, kindle-leandable
3.5-4.0 (depending on the day)
Sims develops a strong world that is filled with heartache at each turn. The events and circumstances are vivid and gripping. I spent a large amount of time upset at the characters regarding their approach to relationships that resulted in emotional pain and trauma. This book was filled with a high level of turmoil and angst, so steer clear if you are not in the mood for this. Overall, the world gripped me and I was immersed into Kit and Nico's world (even though th
Christine (AR)
Mar 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
Kit the actor with a troubled past and Nick the Puritan doctor. And their forbidden Victorian love.

Abandoned after 100 pages. Passably written but the plot convolutions were frustrating and ridiculous. Plus the characterization changed from chapter to chapter.

(and just as an aside -- why do so many gay romances use infidelity as the plot device to keep their lovers apart? No self-respecting hetero-romance novel would have its lovers cheat on each other unless one of them was presumed dead, and e
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book remains a favorite on my list. This novel is full of passion and romance and has the reader caught up in an in-depth story from beginning to end. I have read it multiple times and it still manages to bring tears to my eyes. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that is looking for a good read.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Standish
  • False Colors
  • Whistling in the Dark
  • Matelots (Raised By Wolves, #2)
  • Ransom (Royal Navy, #1)
  • The Affair of the Porcelain Dog (Ira Adler #1)
  • The Price of Temptation
  • The Desire for Dearborne
  • An Agreement Among Gentlemen
  • The Boy I Love (The Boy I Love Trilogy, #1)
  • The God in Flight
  • Lover's Knot
  • A Life Apart
  • A Strong and Sudden Thaw (A Strong and Sudden Thaw, #1)
  • Gaywyck
  • Allegiance: A Dublin Novella
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »