Gerry Burnie's Reviews > Vagabond Heart

Vagabond Heart by A.J. Llewellyn
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's review
Jun 19, 2011

really liked it
Read in June, 2011

Gerry B's Book Reviews -

Although A.J. Llewellyn has over fifty novels out there, Vagabond Heart [Total E-Bound Publishing, 2010] is the first I have read. It certainly won’t be the last, however.

The plot is somewhat unique, inasmuch as it deals with a male prostitute as a romantic lead. Moreover, the story is set in 1942 Hawaii, just before the Pearl Harbour invasion—an era that is particularly nostalgic for me—and this is where AJ shines.

His bio states his passion for Hawaii, and it certainly comes through in his almost palpable descriptions of Hawaii’s history, culture, beauty and grottiness of Hotel Street. Indeed, it is some of the finest descriptive writing I have encountered to date.

And speaking of “history,” special mention should be reserved for the fascinating history of prostitution in war-time Honolulu—in particular the (US) government’s sanction of it (within certain, ridiculous constraints). In this regard, the hypocrisy of government is almost as palpable of Mr. Llewellyn’s excellent descriptions.

The characters are all well developed and interesting as well. Tinder is very much a boy of the 1930s and 40s; meaning, when he found himself up against it he simply found a way to cope. I know the trait, because the 1940s was my era as well.

The girls’ lives could have been a little more developed, but since they were only minor characters this is a value judgment at best.

The native boy, Lauro is quite believable inasmuch as bisexuality seemed to be quite acceptable so long as marriage—as in “one man and one woman”—took place down the line.

Jason Qui came across as just a bit too ideal, and I thought the scenes with him were somewhat ‘pat,’ but once again that is a value judgement that may or may not be shared with other readers. Likewise, I found the sex scenes—while not overwhelming—a bit repetitive toward the end.

Overall, however, it is a well written novel, with an interesting topic and plot, and encompassing an intriguing era. Highly recommended. Four and one-half stars.

Gerry Burnie
"Two Irish Lads" and coming soon, "Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky"

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