Jenre's Reviews > Her Majesty's Men

Her Majesty's Men by Marquesate
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's review
Aug 12, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: m-m, contemporary, drama

I'd not heard of Marquesate until I read her wonderful story Code of Honour in the I Do anthology. That story turned out to be one of my favourites from the anthology. I loved it for it's manly characters and testosterone fuelled sex. So when the opportunity came up for me to get hold of this book, I jumped at the chance, hoping to read something as good as that story had been. I wasn't disappointed.

Many of you who read this blog will know that I like my heroes to be 'real men'; to be masculine and to be comfortable in their alpha status. Well, to get an idea of how manly the characters are in this book, you need to think of the most manly man that you know or have read about and then inject him with three buckets of testosterone. That will give you an idea of the sort of men that Tom and Alex are in this book. Marvellous.

The book begins with our hero, Tom, in the shower. Tom is a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers and is gay. He joined the army at 16:

Sixteen, and he hadn't had a clue; would have fucked any girl if they had let him.

Hadn't intended to grind himself at eighteen against another guy in breathless need, loaded to the gills with cheap lager, denims pulled down to his knees.

Britain doesn't have an official 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. It's more implicit than that - keep it to yourself or get beaten up - is more the deal in this country, so Tom keeps away from the girls and visits gay clubs in the cities when he needs slake his lust.

In the opposite shower is Tom's best friend, Alex. Tom has been in love with Alex for a long time. He is particularly attracted to the scars on Alex's body which Alex got under torture. He has hidden his love and lust for his straight friend, but is almost at breaking point. Then one night Alex starts badgering Tom over why he never takes up any of the many offers that he receives from women. It is at that point that Tom cracks and confesses his sexuality to Alex. What follows from this confession changes their relationship from comradeship, to hate, to acceptance and even love. It's a long journey for these men full of excitement and danger. These were well rounded characters. It helped that the book is almost split in two with Tom's thoughts at the beginning as we learn about his feelings for Alex and his motivations for starting a relationship with him, and then Alex's thoughts as we move into the action based part of the book.

There were a number of things I really liked about Her Majesty's Men. Firstly, that the story takes place over a long time period - several years. This was necessary because both men, especially Alex, have a lot of healing to do. Alex hates his scars, believing them to be the reason his wife divorced him. Plus they are a constant reminder of the pain he underwent and the subsequent emotional fall out of the torture. Gradually, throughout the book he learns, with Tom's help, to accept what happened. We need the long time period for that to happen.

Secondly, both men are alphas. Their lovemaking is almost like fighting, with both determined to take control and neither one giving quarter. It was so violent that I was visibly wincing on a couple of occasions. This was very thrilling and so unlike much of the alpha/beta relationships that crop up in m/m. This also fits in with their situation, with Alex's reluctant reliance on Tom which causes him to lash out in anger as he strives for sexual fulfilment.

Finally, I love a great action book, and being a predominantly military storyline this contained action in spades, especially during the last third of the book, which was like something out of a Hollywood action movie. Marquestate writes in such vivid, gory detail that I could feel every ounce of pain, suffering and triumph that she puts these men through. This was coupled with believable thoughts and dialogue. These are men of action, not of words, and this is reflected in the way they speak to each other and the way they think. A prime example of this are Tom's thoughts in the first section of the book, which begins:

Here he was again, under the shower and with none other than Staff Sergeant Alex Turner in the stall opposite. They were bloody Royal Engineers and couldn't even fix shower stalls with fucking doors?

I only had a couple of issues with this book, mainly centred around Tom. He was such a strong man, and yet utterly crippled by his feelings for Alex. Time and time again, he allows Alex to use him which was something I found immensely frustrating and wished that Tom had been less submissive in this area. I also wanted to have much more grovelling from Alex at the end of the book and as a result more tenderness. However, I appreciate that at the end, Alex had come a long, long way, so maybe I shouldn't be so greedy!

Apart from that, this book was a rough ride from start to finish. I loved it because violence, pain and brutality are issues that don't bother me and I welcomed a read that was so different from the normal m/m fayre. If you don't like those things in your romance, then I suggest you stay away from Her Majesty's Men. If you like books filled to the brim with testosterone, packed with action with men who are a mix of arrogant and confident on the outside, yet a seething mass of insecurity and self-hatred on the inside, then this book is for you. For those people, I highly recommend you read this and it gets a grade of 'Excellent' from me. I understand that there may be a sequel in the pipeline (where Alex has to do some serious grovelling, damnit) and I look forward to reading that in the future.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 12, 2009 – Shelved
August 13, 2009 – Shelved as: m-m
September 2, 2009 – Shelved as: contemporary
September 2, 2009 – Shelved as: drama

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