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For how much lighthearted this historical "romp" was it made me think twice. First of all, it was a long time I didn't use the term romp for an historical romance, a romp was a very popular genre when I was reading a lot of historical romance in my teens, and I actually liked them a lot: light, funny, not too much commitment but a pleasant feeling of relax.

Second, the theme, a man misguided as a woman who is so convincing he ends to be bethroted with another man. Unrealistic? Maybe 10 years ago I was to say yes, but now, after all my historical researches, I know that isn't actually impossible. True, what I found more common is a woman passing as a man (so convincing in a case that only when she died people found out she wasn't a man), but I remember I read a biography of a French spy to the Russian court, a man, who loved so much his woman role that, once retired, moved to England and continued his life as a woman, and again, only when he died, people found out he was a man.

So no, the theme of this novel isn't unrealistic, and I quite liked how the author didn't make of the "heroine" a stereotype: Joseph/Josephine, in modern term, would be referred as a cross-dressed, he doesn't want to be a woman, he likes to dress as one, but during the intimacy with Marcus, he is quite happy and comfortable with his man body.

Again, do not expect a serious novel, but if you want to read a light novella, this is the one.

Publisher: Three Worlds Press, a div of Three Worlds Productions, LLC (December 22, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Lightson Dinasty

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A great historical that despite the length (more than 450 pages) was quite easy to go down, like a smooth glass of water. It's for sure less romance and more high sea adventures, and considering the pirate them, it was in a way old fashioned like the historical setting, but considering my being an aficionado of vintage things, that was a plus to me. Moreover, even if this is far from being a breeches rippers, the romance between Kit and Griffin was hot enough to satisfy also the romantic reader that is in me.

I have to admit, I'm not an huge fan of the setting, while I know it's extremely popular, especially among the UK readers, and also considering the best historical novels are about this theme; that is the reason why I was maybe a little reluctant to start this specifically novel. But it was highly recommended by different friends, so I almost "forced" myself to read it, and was I happy I do. It wasn't long that the usually boredom of reading about ships and officers and co was soon forgotten, and instead I was enthralled in understanding Kit and Griffin, their reasons, the almost rude courtship Griffin was clearly moving on Kit, and Kit not even realizing it.

My favor is of course on Griffin, cause he was more open about his desires, but it's also true that he didn't give many chances to Kit to understand loving him wasn't a so huge betraying of everything he believed as true and right. But indeed I recognize Griffin in such attitude, it's another way to destabilize Kit, and in doing so, having him fall for the trap love he is preparing.

Publisher: Etopia Press (December 12, 2012)
Amazon Kindle: On a Lee Shore



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The Roman "romance" (it sounds strange, isn't it) was quite popular in the '80s, even if it didn't reach the popularity of other subgenres like Western or Scottish Medieval romance. And maybe, it was more common in Europe than US, probably cause, more or less, Roman are the forefathers of most part of this country. Anyway, I have to say, I was quite fond of this genre, so when I started The Eagle's Wing, it didn't sound strange or unfamiliar to my ears.

Even if Keret was a former sex slave, the novel doesn't centre much around the sex; when Lucius and Keret, after a painful and long recovery of Keret's emotional status, will arrive to share a bed, the author didn't linger much, just enough to give us the feeling of what was happening. Indeed, it wasn't much important they add that level of intimacy to their relationship, cause the bond was already strong, they first became life companion and then lover.

It was also good to read how the author grasped the custom of the time: that Lucius bought Keret as a bed slave wasn't strange at all, but that he wanted a relationship with him was basically forbidden; moreover, sex between men wasn't forbidden, or even look upon, but only if penetrative sex happened with Lucius, the master, being the dominant lover, Keret didn't even dare to imagine he could be the one doing the deed.

The Eagle's Wing wasn't an easy, light or sexy reading, but it was for sure an original Gay romance, out of the thousand of titles you can find out there.

Publisher: Manifold Press (September 27, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: The Eagle's Wing

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When approaching an historical romance about same-sex lovers I always fear it will be tragic; while I know courageous men were able to find their happily ever after even then, most of the time it wasn't easy, or without drama. But the author, maybe cause she chooses to approach the story with a "prim and proper" taste, isn't reserving for these men a tragic or public exposure, their dilemma will be of course there, but lived inside their rooms, known only to their inner circle.

Harrison is from a wealthy family, not aristocracy, but middle class anyway, with a respectable career in the law field. He is the second son, so he is not expected to inherit the task to take on the family name, but in any case, he has to conduct a respectable life. A chance encounter have him face the reality of the poorest side of London, and there he meets Daniel; the impoverished son of another middle class family, Daniel is working as a clerk, but he is also doing volunteering job in a Catholic shelter. Even if it's not highlighted much, the author did notice how the Catholic origins of Daniel versus the protestant ones of Harrison are yet another point where they differ.

Harrison and Daniel's relationship is like embers more than fire; there is passion, and warmth, but they aren't full flames, so much that Harrison, until forced by someone else to analyze his feelings towards Daniel, hadn't realized they were love. I can probably see Harrison and Daniel go on for a long time with a deep friendship, and maybe in old age realizing they lived as a couple for most of their lives. While this is entirely possible if considering only Harrison, Daniel is aware of his feelings, and so, more likely, he was not to accept such development.

I don't think Harrison's attitude towards his homosexual feelings is unrealistic, actually I think many at the times did the same; many enjoyed long and deep friendships with other men, and most likely, they never turned into a love relationship... it was what they were expected to do, especially after the Wilde's scandal. Very few decided to not adhere to conveniences and expatriated in more tolerant countries (tidbit of history: did you know that Poland was the only European country who never criminalized homosexuality?)

Publisher: Manifold Press (June 27, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Always With Us

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What is probably the first you notice in Cowboys & Vampires, the first adventure in the Venom Valley series, is the horror: a living dead zombie, a man who is forced to "kill again" the woman he has always considered his mother, the difficult of trying to scind the memories of the good time past and the present horror. Sincerely I'm not a fan of horror stories, so the first instinct should have been to not continue with the reading, but there was something in Josh, an innocence and naivete that was a stark contrast with the horror.

And as soon as Dex enters the scene, I was bought. Josh's secret, the hidden force that linked me to him, was now clear, it was Dex. The boys growing old together, both of them having feeling for each other, both of them not having the courage to say it. But the horrific events, instead of tearing them apart, is the reason to finally come true. The sweetness of their love was the right counterbalance for the horror and the main reason why I wanted to go on and see what happened.

A small warning, Cowboys & Vampires more than a first novel in the series, is a first part of the story, to fully enjoy it you have probably to read it together with the second installment, Stakes and Spurs.

Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Wilde City Press, LLC; 2 edition (August 21, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925031462
ISBN-13: 978-1925031461
Amazon: Cowboys & Vampires/Stakes & Spurs
Amazon Kindle: Cowboys & Vampires: Venom Valley Book One

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Considering the setting, 1799, quite original just like that, and the plot device, a young man sent as endured servant for 5 years, I was expecting for this story to be very gothic like, dark and brooding, maybe even a little dramatic.

So it was with a little surprise that, page after page, I was discovering a romantic story, almost a sweet romance, with a kind Master who seemed more interested in taking care of his servant than using him; my prejudices almost pushed me to believe the Master was some sort of ogre and that he was fattening up the servant, but do not worry, this wasn’t the case.

Anyway, William is really a clever boy, even if only 18 years old, he had already his business as bookseller, but he had bad companies, and he ended up to pay for all his fellow mates. Merrick, his Master, is some sort of hermit, a well-respected apothecary who hides his features behind a cloak he doesn’t remove neither in front of William. But he is gentle and kind, and he treats William in a good way, so much that William starts to believe his bad fate isn’t so bad after all, and even if he has never been interested in men, now that he is in close proximity with Merrick, he is very much attracted by the man: another device plot I was used in my old fashioned romance novels, William falls for Merrick without even knowing his looks, he falls in love for the kind man who is behind the cloak, not for a pretty face.

A some sort of Beauty and the Beast, also here there is a reason for Merrick to hide himself, and William will have to prove that he loves Merrick despite all.

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle: Merrick

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Before talking of why I loved this story, I should tell you a little one myself: when my mother was only a child (she was born in 1942 in full wartime), she lived in an occupied city, Padua, by the Nazi Army. Most of the people was living in barns right outside the city, and near where they were there was a garrison of German officers; my grandfather, after years and years of wartime (he was enlisted in the Africa campaign and then Greece, and he had already lost a 3 years old child to pneumonia) had deserted the Italian army, and to be able to help his family, he was tending the German officers’ animals, mostly mules; one of these officers took sympathy on my mother, she was red-head and curly, and he said she remembered him of his own daughter, back in Germany; he brought chocolate to her and what food he could to my grandfather and grandmother; when the Army started to recede to Germany thought the Alpes, they took my grandfather with them, to tend the animals; but it was clear that he wasn’t to come back, as soon as they were at home, my father, an Italian deserter was probably to be sent to prison if not worse; the German officer told him to stay at the back of the group, and to wait for his signal; as soon as it was possible, he signaled my grandfather to run away. We don’t know what it was of the officer, we don’t even know his name, but we know he saved my grandfather’s life.

So this story of a high-ranked German officer who fell in love with the American assassin who was sent to kill him rang true to my ears. Not only that, I’m always a little weary of war stories cause they are usually tragic, with little hope for an happily ever after, and instead this one was very romantic, as light as it could be due to the matter, and yes, full of hope and with an uplifting feeling that lulled and comforted the reader during all the course of the story.

The plot develops in parallel, the story of Frank and Johann when the met, and that of 3 years later, when the war is over and Johann is under process at Nuremberg for crime against humanity. There is little Frank can do, he for sure cannot admit he was Johann’s lover and he cannot disclose his former mission; to the world’s eyes, Johann was an high-ranked German officer who was primarily involved in the Germany’s war strategies.

The love story between Frank and Johann was sudden and immediate, I did wonder if a trained assassin could really fall like that, I was always expecting for him to turn and betray Johann; on the other hand, Johann was like a romantic hero, talking of love and being the perfect lover, trusting Frank totally only for the reason he was in love; again, I thought he was maybe a little naïve, but I really liked his romantic streak, and for once, it was a joy to read a war story, and not a “tragic” experience.

Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing (July 21, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622341104
ISBN-13: 978-1622341108
Amazon: Lovers in Arms
Amazon Kindle: Lovers in Arms



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More than “by Dorien Grey” this epistolary is by Roger Margason. Sure Dorien and Roger are the same person, but at the same time, they are not. The Roger of these letters, back in 1954, is only the embryo of Dorien, like he says “when these letters begin, I had already known I was gay for about fifteen years. Though my parents had always known, it was a secret we kept from one another. So, if while reading you spot some passages you might conceive as having some gay undertones, chances are you are right.” Aside for these gay undertones, A World Ago: A Navy Man’s Letters Home is not about a gay man, it’s about a boy far from home, learning his ways in the world, shaping the man who he will be.

At the beginning, Roger is very much a boy, and through the letter you can see him grow into a man. When he joins the Navy, the main reason, more the one he presents to his parents (paying for his college), I think was that he wanted to fly, for real but also figuratively speaking. I can recognize in that boy, the man who Dorien Grey is now, enjoying travelling and discovering new places; back then, the Navy was probably the only option allowing you to do so. Maybe Roger didn’t really consider it all, and in those first letters, even if he is bold, I can read that, only maybe, he was regretting that decision a little. But more letters come and more time passes, and towards the end, Roger has made acquaintance with it, and find a way to go through, finally and luckily finding what he was searching. Sure, he wasn’t flying, and maybe his job was boring, but he was, eventually, seeing the world, that world that now, is a world ago.

Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing (April 8, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: A World Ago: A Navy Man's Letters Home (1954-1956)

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Everett Gerard, for various reasons, decided long ago to forget about his property, the Abbey. It’s 1888, in England, and while homosexuality is for sure forbidden, it’s not uncommon. Everyone basically knows Gerard is a sodomite, thanks also to an old scandal with an Italian count, but until he manages to disguise his real sexual inclinations with a libertine life, no one question why he is still a bachelor at almost 30 years old, and considering the fact his father died, he is not even worried that he is the last of his family

But then a solution to even that trouble basically fall into his lap: a 9 years old boy with a striking resemblance to the Gerard’s family, arrives to the Abbey, and the house’s bailiff, Miles Kenway, after trying to tame the almost savage boy, decides to call Gerard to his due towards the boy. Gerard knows he cannot be the father of the boy (no possibility at all), but for sure the boy is a Gerard, and so why not let people believe he is Everett’s offspring and, not only putting to death the old scandal, but also solving the problem of the heir to the Abbey.

I liked the romance between Gerard and Kenway, while forbidden, it wasn’t full of angst or denial; both men had long ago decided their interests lie on men, and when they meet each other, that interest is mutual. Even the social status difference isn’t something that put them apart, considering Kenway is a well-read man, who, even if he hasn’t a college degree, has nevertheless a deep knowledge of culture and life. On the other hand, Gerard is the classical middle class man, not from aristocracy, but nevertheless wealthy, and yes, even if he has some reasons hidden in his past to behave as he is, I found him to be maybe a little too much spoilt; sure, deep down he has a good heart, and the immediately liking the has for Ipsial, even if, both the most likely fathers are men he despises, said a lot about Gerard’s predisposition to love people for who they are and not for their origins.

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (July 9, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: The Gentleman's Keeper

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The touching the stars achievement is not only the most obvious of Nick Sullivan, who is an astronaut in the run that US is having against URSS to have the first man in space and then on the moon, is also that of Tait William, a news reporter trying to do something good amidst an horrible scenario, on both sides of the Vietnam and Cambodia war. And maybe is also that of Nick and Tait together, living, hating and loving for more than 20 years trying to achieve their little paradise.

This is not an “easy” gay romance, and, apparently, for the most part, romance is not even the main theme, Nick and Tait barely shares a kiss, for a good part of the story they are apart, even paired with different partners; more than once I had the feeling they weren’t destined to be together, they were cross-starred lovers, but the time always seemed wrong. Nick and Tait are both confused, sometime even disgusted by what they feel for each other; instead of listening to their hearts they are easily influenced by enemy words, words of people who have the agenda to set them apart.

It was really difficult at time to believe in a future together for these two, moreover, there wasn’t apparently any pity for their beloved ones, people was dying, from war, from AIDS, from lack of love… how easy it was to let it go, to not being strong; but this is the only important characteristic of Nick, and yes, even Tait, they are strong, and able to overcome the time and years who put them apart.

Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (August 24, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623800064
ISBN-13: 978-1623800062
Amazon: To Touch the Stars
Amazon Kindle: To Touch the Stars



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It’s not only the name that links Peter to Peter Pan and Wendell to Wendy, there are many other references in the novel, a young elf of a boy by the name of Tinker, a band of scoundrels that always goes along with Peter, and of course, the firm decision of Peter to never grey up, to not being a captive of an house with closed windows.

Wendell, as his female counterpart, is the one with the leveled head, the older of three brothers, the one who always behaved as his parents expected, except for the fact that he didn’t marry, and at almost 30, he is reaching an age that makes him a black sheep among white lambs. Wendell is homosexual, and he knows that, but in 1901 London, the same year, if I remember well, when Oscar Wilde died in exile, an happily ever after for him is unthinkable. And so he searches solace in a very special private club, where he meets Peter, and the two start a passionate love story, in a way less traumatic than what I was expecting.

The book had a warning for BDSM theme, but sincerely, that is really far from any BDSM themed novel I read; sure, sometime Peter tends to order Wendell around, but more cause he is the experienced one in comparison to almost virgin Wendell, but aside from that, there is no difference between them in bed, no Domination or submission; and even if Peter is from aristocracy and Wendell is a middle class clerk, even in that account there is no highlighting of their social status different level when they are together.

All in all, I found this story to be more romantic and sweet than expected, and it left me with a warm comfortable feeling.

Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Amber Quill Press, LLC (June 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611249139
ISBN-13: 978-1611249132
Amazon: Loving Peter
Amazon Kindle: Loving Peter

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The story is very long, maybe a tad too long, especially cause, the bittersweet ending, while with hope, it left me like robbed, I spent so much time with these two guys, that I wanted to know more about their future, and hopefully, happily ever after. So my feeling was that, if I spent a little less time with them before, and a little more time after, the balance would have been perfect.

Nevertheless the love story was really moving, emotional and with a lot of angst, but you can tell the author is a romantic, cause, even with all the drama, he still give a little tiny hope to happiness for these boys. The closing reminded me of some old fashioned romance, not those of the ’70s or ’80s, but more those love story of the wartime, or soon after, when lovers had very little chances at happiness, and it wasn’t unheard of that death set them apart; sometime, when the author didn’t want to kill even the little hope in the heart of the readers, they put those open endings, giving the more romantic women to decide if they want to believe there was still hope for the lovers.

Considering this author is more famous as a graphic designer than writer (even if I remember with fondness a previous novella I read by him), I found his writing style to be mature and beautiful, sometime poetic. I did wonder if the author wasn’t somehow more near to this story than simply a writer with their characters, cause he did seem really involved in the story.

Even if it broke my heart, I truly feel as recommending this book, maybe not if you are searching for a “light” reading, then, store this for another moment, but sooner or later, give it a chance.

Publisher: Cerberus Inc. (July 9, 2013)
Amazon: Memorizing You

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A solid good mystery plot with just that touch of romance to make it enjoyable for a wider public. An unusual time set, the early 1950s, at the aftermath of a famous was, WWII, but also a not so “famous” one, the Korean War: usually you are used to the loss of young souls that was the WWI or the drama of the WWII, or the tragedy of Vietnam, but the Korean War? That is more for who really was there or knew someone who was there. People don’t talk about it much. Here the setting is outstanding, the feeling is that or the author did a deep research, or he was somehow involved (maybe a relative was there?).

The book is very well written, form the 1st point of view of one of the two main character, Dan. When the story starts he is already in a clandestine relationship with Bud (clandestine not cause they are married to someone else, but since Bud is in the closet, and neither Dan is very much out, homosexuality in 1950s is still a crime, and you can very well lose everything if you are found out). The previous book, It Takes Two, is about how Dan and Bud met, but I didn’t feel I was losing something about this current novel without having read that one.

In a way, the mystery had even some fun element, trying maybe to enlighten the plot, but there is a strong core represented by the political climate, and the dangerous of being gay in those times. The two men know it, and Dan is also not at his first experience, having lost a previous lover. He is now clearly in love with Bud, but that is not a reason to lose perception with the reality they are living in. That is, there aren’t really trouble between Dan and Bud, but the external world is against them.

The romance wasn’t sexy, but it was for sure warm and sweet, despite all. Like many of the real life romances I read about, love was always love, and in a way, finding happiness at that time was so difficult, that once you found it, you grasp and cling and never let it go.

Paperback: 178 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (August 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590212924
ISBN-13: 978-1590212929
Amazon: Only Make Believe
Amazon Kindle: Only Make Believe

Series:
1) It Takes Two
2) Only Make Believe



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There were three main characters on this story, Johnny, Frankie and the setting, the excellence of all three of them making this a must for the historical romance lovers; and in this case, I would like to highlight the “romance” in the historical romance tag, cause, on the contrary of other novels, in which the excellent setting steals the scene to the love story between the main characters, in this case both strength are preserved.

I enjoyed both characterization of Johnny and Frankie, they were really at the opposite: first, the origins, France and Germany are geographically near, but totally far from each other in attitude, and Creole-French Frankie is sensual and sexy, and unabashed in his preferences, where Germanic-roots Johnny is reserved, self-flagellating himself for his “perverse” needs; moreover Frankie is embracing his heritage, floundering it with its luxurious joy of life and colorful attitude, he is like a rich brocade of a deep burgundy, while instead Johnny is trying to hide it, misguiding people to believe him to be a 100% WASP, giving me the idea of a brown cotton cloth.

While the Civil War time was an important element of the story, I have to say that I enjoyed it wasn’t as predominant as I feared, I’m not really into war novels (too much drama, too often a loss of young lives). More than 1/3 of the story is focused on Frankie and Johnny, before their involvement on different war fronts, so that, when it happens, I had the feeling these men had to find a way to stay together, for how much impossible it could appear.

There was quite the component of sex, so much that, sometime, especially at first, when the romance between Johnny and Frankie wasn’t already in place, it was almost to a level of erotica. I’m sure this was part of the character of Frankie, and also a way to not only prove how different he was from repressed Johnny, but also how far he will go at the end of the story, thanks to the love he has found.

Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 31, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623806372
ISBN-13: 978-1623806378
Amazon: Where My Love Lies Dreaming
Amazon Kindle: Where My Love Lies Dreaming

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I liked this story, more I loved it. Yes, it was long, and not really fast-paced, but I loved every single word, and in a way, I found it to be sweet and romantic, but also passionate; not overtly on your face, but more a passion shimmering beneath the ashes, ready to spark into a burst of flame if stoked, but otherwise warm and constant, slowly feeding the love of these two men.

This is not really a beyond the social barriers story, it’s clear to everyone, Mr Hillier included, that his new gardener, Mr Ashton, isn’t from the working class, but more likely a destitute from the middle class. They are on the same social status, but something happened in Mr Ashton’s past, and Mr Hillier respects the other desire to not talk about it. Slowly but steadily their friendship deepens, to a level that Mr Hillier realizes his feelings for Mr Ashton aren’t simply friendship; for Mr Ashton there wasn’t any doubt from the start, cause he well knows his preferences are for men, and that is the reason why he has nothing in the world: homosexuality is a crime, and he wouldn’t wish to anyone what happened to him, let alone to Edward, who is married with children. But fate will give them a push towards an happiness that, if not open, it’s at least comforting.

While reading this story, I was feeling that yes, what was happening was possible; even in the small details, for how much sad (like the death of small children due to the lack of health care knowledge) to the big picture of the attitude toward homosexuality in a Victorian society, everything was realistic. When Edward realizes he is in love with William, he is not only scared, he is aghast; even if he arrives to admit he is in love with William, and shares a bed with him, the thought of anal sex is impossible, a crime not only for the law (and Edward is a lawyer) but also to the eyes of God (a God that Edward has started to question, even before his homosexual feelings for William).

The Walled Garden is the best example of historical romance, cause it manages to remain realistic but at the same time delivers a romantic lovestory.

Publisher: Manifold Press (April 12, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: The Walled Garden

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That of Stefan and Adri is not a “comfort” romance, meaning those stories where love overcomes everything and they will live happily ever after. Stefan and Adri met in 1935, in a time and country where homosexuality was still a crime; they don’t have a chance to an happily ever after, there is no place in the world where they can find it. Moreover considering that Stefan has a family, is married with 4 sons and he needs to provide to them before everything else, even his own love for Adri. And while Adri loves Stefan, he also knows he will never be happy with him, that their love will always be a dirty secret, something they will always have to hide. He has a choice in front of him: accepting it or leaving Stefan; and the oncoming war will give him more reasons to take one route over the other.

I found the story to be bittersweet but truth. Without the author knowing, there was even a small details that made it even more realistic to my eyes, my mother too was born under wartime, like Stefan’s younger daughter, and she was a redhead too, and for that reason the German soldiers who were occupying our hometown were more keen to give her some treats, cause she remembered them of the daughters they left at home.

R.A. Padmos is not trying to tell a fairy tale, she doesn’t invent some prince charming arriving on a white horse to rescue his lover; Stefan and Adri are ordinary men, not wealthy enough to believe to be above the common law, not daring, or stupid, enough to be able to leave everything behind and running alone towards the horizon. Stefan and Adri’s love is heartbreaking, without chance and often tragic. But it’s a story that many should read, cause beyond the bittersweetness, you could taste also the authenticity and strength of it.

Publisher: Manifold Press (April 12, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Unspoken

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What most surprised me of this historical romance was the “unromantic” perception of the main characters, and bear in mind I’m saying it in a positive way and I will explain why: this is a western romance set in 1864 in the then wild territory of Montana; while one of the men had the chance to live in the city, the other grew up in a sheep ranch where he still is and probably will ever be, and has never once left his home. Red knows he is an inverted, he has always known, but to him, that means he loves sex with men; at the time it was already difficult for a man to understand what love means towards a woman, most of the time marriage was a convenience and completed with the first available woman, loves towards a man is not a possible concept. On the other side Henry was raised by missionary parents, he knows he doesn’t want to marry a woman, but again, the concept of a family with another man is not something he is considering. So no, there aren’t romantic feelings between Red and Henry, and till the end, love is something that maybe is becoming tangible between them, in their own way to approach it, but it’s not what drives them together. Sex, passion, that is the protruding force, and what they both understand, being experienced like Red or naïve like Henry. I found this approach believable and very much in line with the time.

And now, the second “unromantic” element: Red and Henry are not exclusive. Actually Henry is, more or less, but basically cause he hasn’t the same sexual drive as Red, while on the other side, Red is willing to renounce to have sex with other men, but only if Henry is able to fulfill his needs, and Henry isn’t. Again, not a romantic concept, but probably a very true approach to the matter.

Is it believable that not only two men like Red and Henry meet and fall in love, but also that they are living in a place where Red is able to go and find willing recreational partners? I think so, cause, it’s pretty much similar to what happened in real life with George Merrill and Edward Carpenter: this is one of my favorite real life romances, Carpenter, English socialist poet, philosopher, anthologist, and early gay activist met and fall in love for Merrill, a working class man. It was England, not Montana, but again it was the meeting of two very different souls, who mated for life, 37 years, and the two died little more than one year apart from each other. That was love, not question, but historic records attest Merrill and Carpenter weren’t sexually exclusive; nevertheless, no one is possibly questioning their love for each other.

Publisher: Manifold Press (September 27, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Montana Red



More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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I wasn’t really familiar with the two plays by Shakespeare, The Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice, and so I have never realized the similarities between the two Antonios, both of them willing to help their friends to a level that will put at risk their own lives. But these two Antonios, even if one of them is even the one giving the title to the play, The Merchant of Venice, for a reason or the other are not who most people remember, and maybe that is the reason why Gil Cole decided to give them the center role for once, and imagines they are the same person, moving from town to town and from lover to lover. The author says this is a romance, and well, like in all respectable romances there will be an happy ending only that I bet most of you will not be able to pinpoint which romance will succeed.

Antonio moves from adventures to adventures, changing faces, cities and destinies, but always remaining faithful to himself and his desires; Antonio and his story blends in a perfect way with the times and customs, and even if his story is fiction, that is not the same for the setting, that is well-developed and believable. This is an example of the best historical novel, in which the reader will have the chance to enjoy the fictional story of the characters while experimenting the real history of those times.

Antonio’s first love is Franceschino, but then he will meet Rodrigo and Bassanio, and each one of these men will mark a moment in Antonio’s life; even that is part of the love story, cause in the long life of a man not always the first love will be the forever one… unless this is a romance, and well, the author wanted to preserve at least one of the unwritten rules of romance. So yes, Antonio will have to wait, and going through a lot of perils, but there is an happily ever after waiting for him.

Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions (March 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937627012
ISBN-13: 978-1937627010
Amazon: Fortune's Bastard
Amazon Kindle: Fortune's Bastard

Updates: http://www.goodreads.com/user/updates_rss/2156728?key=011e4dd0a1ff993d8c2322e691d6229ed9bbf74b

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At first I was not sure what to “do” with this book; the historical setting was very appealing, but this poor boy, Edmund, was always ending in a trouble, one worse than the other. Sure, more or less he was enjoying the experience, but well, for the third son of an English earl to end, more or less, on the meat market as sexual slave… but then I had like a lightning of understanding, what I was reading was like one of those feuilleton, only with a LOT of sex on it. Basically the plot was a frame to the sex, and in this context, it was a nice addition, but it wasn’t supposed to be accurate or consistent. Buccaneer Island is the retelling of the sexual adventures of Edmund, something that he is doing in his old age, adventures no one believes are real, and maybe neither Edmund, maybe he is enriching them a little.

There is even the hint of a transgender story, Edmund is so willing to please his master of the moment that he changes his looks to appear as a woman, and maybe he would have even considered a sex change (rudimental and quite dangerous). Sure, at that point the reader is questioning how much is Edmund’s sexual fantasy and how much can be considered real (I propend for the first hypothesis).

In any case, even when he is in the most dangerous situation, Edmund approached everything like he was taking a sexy escapade from reality, always sure his noble parents will rescue him sooner or later, and when that happens, well, it’s almost a bummer to Edmund, who was enjoying the freedom of the Buccaneer Island, especially the sexual freedom.

Amazon: Buccaneer Island
Amazon Kindle: Buccaneer Island
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602826587
ISBN-13: 978-1602826588



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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More than a whole novel, this was more a nice, sweet novella; it’s odd to use the word “sweet” in relation to a story regarding saloon prostitutes, but this one was indeed sweet and very romantic. Probably a quite ordinary western romance plot, the one about the young cowboy falling in love for the soiled dove and sweeping her from her feet to ride together towards the horizon… with the exception that Lila is transgender and the reason why young Tommy fell so hard for her is that he couldn’t care less for women and he has actually a crush on his boss, Hal.

When Lila realizes that the virgin cowboy she picked isn’t actually scared of women due to inexperience, but that he actually prefers men, she feels safe to reveal him her secret. If I hadn’t known that what Lila did was not only possible, but even ended up in some newspaper of the time, I would have probably questioned the possibility for Lila to pass not only as a woman, but to even exercise the older profession in the world, implying intimate contact with men. Actually what I questioned was not that, but more the fact that Lila, after meeting Tommy, basically will not continue with her trade: true, she is falling for Tommy, and Tommy is paying her, but nevertheless, I think at the time the life of a prostitute wasn’t so easy. The author managed it making the time span of the novella quite short, less than a week.

I’m sure life will not be easy for them, Tommy is really young and naïve, he has no real money, and even if they manage to find a place where to start anew, they are bound to have problem, how they will manage to buy the land, the cattle? But I suppose that is not the purpose of the novella, the target was to write a romantic, happily ever after story, and that target was totally achieved. Lila is a good character, she felt real, a soiled dove with a tender heart, someone who is able to comprehend Tommy’s fear and not making fun of them; that is probably the reason why Tommy falls in love, other than, simply as that, Lila is also the first, and only, experience he has with sex and desire, but why we cannot believe that your first real love can be also your forever one?

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7&products_id=514

Amazon: A Cowboy's Heart
Amazon Kindle: A Cowboy's Heart
Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 12, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1475057318
ISBN-13: 978-1475057317



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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Purgatory was the dark horse of last year Rainbow Awards, winning in a competitive category like the Historical Fiction, competitive since it draws the best pieces of fiction out there. Dark horse because, sincerely, not many had heard about this book, or at least not in the “usual” circles. I read something by Mann, mostly short stories in collective anthologies, and I have always found his pieces to be lovely, because he manages to deliver hot and sexy with classy, even the more dirty situation, presented with his lyrical style, become poems.

Jeff Mann is also a poet, or maybe he is mainly a poet borrowed to fiction; he is also a bear, something that you often found reflected in his own characters. He also writes of places he knows, or times he researched, and Purgatory is a summa of both. It’s not an easy novel, it’s about torture, and a time that was not pretty; I was also scared to read this novel because I like my happily ever after, and I was fearing there was no chance for these two to have one. But I think that, deep down, or maybe not even so deep, Mann is a romantic man (pun intended and citation of Mann’s poetry book, A Romantic Mann), and so, even if he was writing of torture, and pain, there was his lyrical language alleviating the whole, and the feeling that he loved his characters and wanted for them to have that impossible chance.

For what I can tell, not being an expert of the Civil War, this is also a wonderful piece of historical fiction, the time and the custom, the men at war and the places they visit, are beautifully rendered; sure it’s hard to think that war prisoners maybe went through what Drew did, I hope that is where the literary freedom enters the picture, but again, as I said, I’m not an expert of that period and maybe that was even possible in reality, unfortunately it’s not the first time I read of tortures inflicted in war time that rival with the worst medieval Inquisition.

There is romance, historical fiction, erotica and BDSM, all wrapped up with a writing style that is a pure form of poetry. Purgatory by Jeff Mann is destined to become a classic of the Gay literature.

http://lethepressbooks.com/gaybear.htm#mann-purgatory

Amazon: Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War
Amazon Kindle: Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War
Publisher Bear Bones Books (March 5, 2012)
Language English
ISBN-10 1590213750
ISBN-13 978-1590213759



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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Whistle Pass is set in the 50s, 10 years after the end of WWII, in a US small town, not exactly the time to be out and proud. But hotel manager Gabe has found a way to live, he is the eccentric of the town from Monday to Friday, and since he is one of them, born and raised there, his fellow smalltowners accept him, but then he is an high-maintenance male prostitute on the weekends, in Chicago, where no one really knows him. Up until then it was a good life, but then Charlie Harris enters his life. Rough and troubled, Charlie is the perfect mourning hero, a veteran of the WWII with still a fiery post traumatic stress disorder and some unsolved issues right there in Whistle Pass. Considering that Gabe had plenty of chances to meet other gay men in Chicago, it’s not a case of limited choices, Gabe’s interest in Charlie is sincere, and maybe Charlie is awakening Gabe’s desires of settling down and having a family, or at least what they can consider such taking in account the time. On the other hand Charlie needs to have a closure with his past, but he is not one to deny his feelings; he can appear cold and aloof, but indeed Charlie is someone who will risk everything, even his life, in the name of love.

I liked practically everything of this novel, the small town setting, the supporting characters, especially the women (plurals, there is more than one good female supporting characters), Charlie and Gabe, especially Gabe, in his almost naiveté, an oddity considering his side career as male prostitute. But apparently Gabe is doing that more for the need of company, and the feeling of being accepted than for money, when he is Anthony, he is handsome, desired, coveted, and welcomed. Gabe needs only to understand the same can be in his hometown, if he is able to open his heart to who is around him.

The romance was good as it was the little mystery, starting from a simple question of not letting the skeleton out of the closet, ending in the uprising of a whole city against the villains. I hope Charlie and Gabe will understand that, while the small town can have its faults, no chance to maintain a secret, it’s also the only place where they can live together as a couple.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2792


Amazon: Whistle Pass
Amazon Kindle: Whistle Pass
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (February 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613723768
ISBN-13: 978-1613723760



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle


Cover Art by Anne Cain
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There are not many novels set at the beginning of the XX century and dealing with homosexuality, but the few I read gave a chance of happiness to the heroes that at first I wasn’t thinking possible. But indeed, hidden in the layers of history, there are many of these stories, of “roommates” who never married, of old bachelors who shared an house, of men who married but still had a special relationship with their best friend. They are the gay men of the past, sometime emerging from vintage photo-shoot, posing in their best Sunday attire and conveying from those pictures all the love they felt for each other.

But it was not simple for them, it was not easy above all to accept they were different. For how strange it sounds, I think that, for who was living in the “Wild” West, it was easier, women were scarce, and I don’t think many questioned if two men were living together. But our heroes move their story to the big cities of the east, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and with the big city comes the feeling they are different, and comes the guiltiness, the hoping and believing there could be a cure for those strange feelings.

This is not a cowboy meets cowboy and they walk together towards the horizon, they have to earn that right, more than an heterosexual couple. And while Federal Marshal Forest O’Rourke can be more refined than County Sheriff Eugene Grey, he also the one who seems to give up to them, not accepting his feelings, believing they are an illness. Not that Gene is more comfortable, even him has the feeling to be dirty, but in a way he is more resigned, less bent upon denying them.

There is sex between Forest and Gene, but it’s not graphic details and mostly to give the feeling to the reader that their love is complete, in any sense, physical and emotional. It’s also romantic in a way, and the ending, while not easy is, as I said, full of hope for a chance at happiness.

http://www.cheyennepublishing.com/books/shiny.html

Amazon: A Shiny Tin Star
Amazon Kindle: A Shiny Tin Star
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing (November 23, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937692175
ISBN-13: 978-1937692179

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading+list&view=elisa.rolle
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A collection of three novellas, all of them dealing with the theme of friends with benefits, or better from friends to lovers, as the title suggests.

I know it’s bad to have a favorite in a class ;-) but indeed I have one, and it’s the first novella “It Was Always You”, about two long-time friends who were always too shy to confess each other love, or better one was shy and the other was not ready. Caleb and Kevin were the gay kids at school, but Caleb was nerdy and wallflower and instead Kevin was exuberant and always in the middle of life, whatever life was. Despite their difference they moved their friendship from youth to adulthood, and Caleb was always there for Kevin, pining after the man without having the courage to confess his love. And now Kevin has called telling him he is in love with another man and he wants for Caleb to meet him.

I have to say, don't even think I fell for it: it was clear Kevin had something in mind and that was what made me reconsider him and winning point for this novella to be my favorite of the three.

The second one, “Blind Love”, about 18th century samurai, was almost a fairy tale, even if there wasn’t any fantasy element. It was very refined, with a delicate them, almost if the author was dealing with fragile feelings, although into strong bodies. What impressed me more was, more than the two men, the reaction of the others to them: take Hirata’s father, he wasn’t really worried or upset that Hirata was following his heart and search for his love, Sho, a man, but more than he was leaving his future in his father’s dojo. It was apparently more important their differences in social status, than their equality in sex.

And finally there was “Skating For Gold”, about Olympic skaters. Here the sport theme led me to imagine a story with a grandeur sense, and instead it was almost cozy and familiar, maybe since Lance and Devon are country boys, living in a farm. Sure there was the fighting hard for your dream theme so common to these stories, but all in all, this was more a small town romance than some in the public spotlight story.

Amazon Kindle: Friends to Lovers
Publisher: Ai Press (October 27, 2012)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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This is one of the most beautiful romance I have read. Robert is a young nobleman tortured by his father who fear his son and heir being homosexual. But Robert doesn't know nothing about sex and nothing about love. But one night he meet Greyson, a duke who is searching an angel... from that moment his angel is him, and from that moment his name is Angel. In fact, we only know him like Angel, his real name is revealed only at the end when Angel is ready to break free of his cage and declare his love.

The romance is in first person, and we read all the story trought the eyes of Angel, eyes tormented but also eager of love. Greyson is able to fillfull him of love. This is a great romance where everything is narrated with a soffuse tenderness and with the ability to make feel us the real sensation of Angel.

I strongly reccomended this romance to everyone.

http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=TAC_ANGL

Amazon: Angel's Evolution
Amazon Kindle: Angel's Evolution
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (July 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608207234
ISBN-13: 978-1608207237

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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More light than the previous books in this series, mostly since the story is mainly set in an isolated lodge in the forest giving the characters more freedom, it follows the same trend of mixing together strong and domineering men with more gentle and kind companions. Peter is the captain of Duke Logan; in a previous book Logan and Drake, a pair, shared their bed with Peter, but Peter is bisexual, and he is in love with his wife, and so that was only a passing fling. Unfortunately Peter’s wife dies in childbirth, and Peter convinced himself it was the punishment for his sin. Despite this, when Logan sends him to Marsden Lodge, an hunting lodge in the northern border of his dukedom, Peter falls in lust (not love) with Arvel, the deaf mute caretaker of the place. Arvel is petite and pretty like a forest fairy (no pun intended), with big lavender eyes and long red hair; he would have not survived the harsh life of a medieval village if not for the help of Gareth, a big and burly mercenary that between hirings comes back to Arvel and helps him. That of Arvel with Gareth is love, but Arvel is really like a forest creature, welcoming and friendly with everyone who shares with him a kind spirit. And so Arvel welcome Peter not only inside the lodge, but also in his bed. And when Gareth comes back to him as usual, Arvel wants for Gareth and Peter to be lover like he is with Gareth. Everything is perfect if not that Peter understands his relationship with Arvel, or even the one he will build with Gareth, is not love; this will be righted by him meeting with Caelin, a young man who destined to priesthood, was shunned due to his sin of homosexuality.

Silent Lodge is an erotic tale, the various relationship in this tale, between Logan, Drake and Peter, between Peter, Arvel and Gareth, and between Peter and Caelin, are built upon sex, and only in some cases they developed in love. But the sex is without regret, especially when there is the chance to deepen the relationship beyond a simple escapade. These men don’t consider what they are doing a sin, because they are not harming anyone; this is even more evident due to the isolation of the lodge: who can be affected by their actions if no one is aware of what they are doing? Basically the sin is only that since people, and not God, stated it.

http://www.loose-id.com/In-the-Company-of-Men-Silent-Lodge.aspx

Amazon: Silent Lodge
Amazon Kindle: Silent Lodge
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC (November 25, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1607377403
ISBN-13: 978-1607377405

Series: In the Company of Men
1) The Mercenary's Tale: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/243092.html
2) Jackson’s Pride: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/277247.html
3) Baymore's Heir: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1533510.html
4) Silent Lodge

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle


Cover Art by Christine M. Griffin
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If you consider the time this novel was first out, 1979, and the period it refers to, II World War, Wingmen is a daring novel since it “allows” to its heroes an happily for now ending, something that was seldom read at the time. Novels with gay themes had sometime made their appearance in the past, but most often than not, the heroes were not allowed to be able to enjoy their love. Even in most notorious novels like Gaywick, another release from Avon Books of the ‘70s, the happily ever after was not a 100% one, and not all the gay characters had it.

Having read “From Here to Eternity”, I can recognize the similar theme, but in that novel there was a subtle shame for being gay, and those characters who consciously admitted they were gays, were seen like weak and needing men, beginning sex in exchange of money. Love seemed not part of the equation, and that is the main difference in Wingmen; true, there is sex between Jack and Fred (even if, remember, this is the 1979 and set between 1940s and 1960s, so nothing is overtly on your face), but there is above all love. It’s a great love story, and both Jack than Fred are able to admit they are in love, that is not only basic physical desires attracting each other.

Wingmen is also a good war novel, with plenty of details on the war and war setting; it’s strange because I have always thought to Avon like a romance publisher, but that is probably the evolution they had from the ’70 on, starting to publish the notorious Savage Romance novels. Instead Wingmen is as much a “man” novel as it’s a romance, able to mix the two elements in a perfect combination.

And if someone is wondering on the real possibility of such story happening, I strongly suggest to read Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Berube (re-released in 2010 in a 20th Anniversary edition), many of the stories in that essay are a replica of what happened between Jack and Fred in the novel, and many like Jack and Fred came back from that war changed in many ways, and trying to reconnect with a world that was no more theirs. Some of them managed to be happy forever, some of them for a brief period, but at least they tried, at least they had the courage to fight for their love like they fought for their country.

http://www.cheyennepublishing.com/books/wingmen.html

Amazon: Wingmen
Amazon Kindle: Wingmen
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing (February 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937692086
ISBN-13: 978-1937692087

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle
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A light historical romp on a Gentleman Thief, the 1930s prototype of a twink and an handsome detective… and no, don’t worry, this is not a ménages a trois.

When Detective Hawk is taking the case about a break-in in an antiquities shop, he doesn’t expect to find love. Hawk is homosexual, but while in the 1920s it was easier to be gay in New York (for reference please read the fabulous Gay New York), in the 1930s people are starting the witch hunt, and so Hawk prefers to take for himself his preferences in bed companions. But when he meets Remington Trueblood, Englishman transplanted in New York and fashionable owner of a tea house, he knows he has met his destiny.

Remi is very young and despite his role as successful businessman, very innocent. He had a bad break-up with an older man, someone who is still holding a place in his heart, and he was not believing possible to fall in love again. But as for Hawk, it’s love at first sight, and the little detail he is on the focus of a thief is not so important like the task to know better Hawk.

Despite Remi’s young age, 23 years old, and being the 1930s (or maybe right since it’s the 1930s and so when you see a chance it’s better not to let it go), Remi and Hawk move very quickly and in the blink of a day they went from strangers to lovers. True there is nothing against them, they are both free, independent and willing, so why should they have to wait? And for what? And if someone is wondering about the chance of two men having an happily ever after in that age, well, I suggest you to read the above mentioned essay, you will be surprise how it seemed easier to be gay and discreet in the 1930s, and being a couple when most people don’t really care what you did in the privacy of your bedroom.

There is really no mystery on the real identity of the Gentleman Thief, and the dangerous adventures are not so dangerous after all; the main focus are Remi and Hawk and their blossoming love. I have the feeling this was only an appetizer for this author, and the idea is to have more and more adventures centered around the antiquities shop.

http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=78_89&products_id=3520

Amazon Kindle: The Amethyst Cat Caper
Publisher: Torquere Press, Inc. (February 28, 2012)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle
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The story doesn’t span a long time in the life of Lieutenant Conrad Herriot and Seaman Tom Cotton: when we met them, they are already “together” since when Conrad was a 13 years old boy entering the Royal Army as officer and Tom was assigned to him as a servant, Tom himself a boy of 15 years. They basically grew up together, becoming the men they are without no one intruding between them, no family, no women, no other men. The bond is so tight that Conrad prefers the company of Tom to other officers and this is arising embarrassing questions. They have nothing to hide, not yet at least, but the ship is a nest of gossips and they are condemned before being real sinners.

I like the bond between Conrad and Tom before and after it turns in a romantic relationship; it speaks of ordinary things, of everyday and of brotherhood. Sure there will be physical passion between them, but first of all there is a bond that was born when both of them were developing into men, it was like an imprinting, something that is impossible to break.

I’m not sure they would have arrived so soon to the physical side of the relationship if not for the gossiping of the other men, I can imagine both of them retiring in the country, now more friends than lord and servant, and enjoy a quiet old age far from indiscreet eyes. This was denied to them, but Conrad and Tom will find a way to dramatically change their future, and still be together.

I like that Tom was not so ready to lose his integrity in exchange of the satisfaction of his desires but most of all, of his life. Sure it doesn’t take long to him to reconsider the option, of what he is gaining in exchange of what he is losing, but still, it’s not an immediate decision. In this he is behaving more gentlemanly than Conrad, who should be the real gentleman between them, but I have the feeling that Conrad is also the more romantic… romanticism is something that noblemen can afford wherelse simple men like Tom are usually more practical.

http://ebooks.carinapress.com/309422ED-E92A-42D1-8DFA-2068C6705E89/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=E433596A-3645-493A-987A-8428CE0CA7D4

Amazon Kindle: By Honor Betrayed
Publisher: Carina Press (November 7, 2011)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle
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A bittersweet tale about a summer’s fling: it’s 1891, Queen Victoria’s India, and Mair, a 18 years old young man soon to be leaving for England and his college future, meets Captain Charles Blackthorne, 35 years old and embittered by his current life. Charles sees in Mair his lost hopes, the innocent and young romance he didn’t have the chance to fully experiment, the lightness and carelessness to love and be love by another man. Charles is tired, more than tired he is weary of the clandestine affair he can have with other fellow soldiers, there is no romance in it, there is sex without passion, it’s only a mechanism, and to that, he can renounce. But with Mair he will have the night of his dreams, a night that will remain a lapse in time, nothing more, but everything he wants.

This is only a short story, and it would be interesting to know what it will be of Mair and his adventures in England and of Charles and his life in India; will they be able to fulfil their desires? Will they meet again? We don’t know, but for now, they had they summer’s lease.

http://www.bcpinepress.com/catalogDetail.php?bookCode=53

Amazon Kindle: Summer's Lease
Publisher: Bristlecone Pine Press (September 20, 2011)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle
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This day I really didn’t need to cry more, but it was time for me to read this Christmas novella by Jardonn Smith and so I did, and of course I cried. The Good Shepherd is a bittersweet novella, it’s a Christmas novella only since the two heroes met during the Christmas season of 1944, but they did so in a prisoner camp in German territory under Nazi occupation; during that 1944 they were lucky and with the help of a German shepherd they managed to escape and go back to United States to start a life together. Good you will say, that is a story with an angst beginning but with an happily ever after. Wrong. The author didn’t deceive the reader, he starts the story in 1951 and Harold, Jack’s lover, dies in Korea; from this event, Jack walks through the memory lane and tells us the story of their brief but deep love. Jack had only 6 years with Harold, but those six years will last all his life, a life that will be 10 times longer, 60 years.

Sure, this is a bittersweet story, but it’s also a love story. Jack loved Harold, and he understood that harnesses his lover in a country life would have meant killing him. But Harold died anyway, so what is the meaning of Jack’s generosity? That he was not the one who killed him. Harold was not happy in their farm, he wanted to fly, to fly away; he loved Jack and I’m sure he was thinking that he was always coming back to him, but that is the war, and that was the fate of many soldiers who didn’t believe they would die in war. And maybe Harold thought he was different, he had already managed to escape once, why not two? Harold was for sure a dreamer, and maybe he was also young. I don’t blame Jack for letting him go, probably if that was not the case, Harold would have gone in any case, and their love would have been destroyed. In this way, even if Jack has no more Harold, he has at least the memory of their perfect love.

http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=JS_GDSHP

Amazon Kindle: The Good Sheperd (MLR Press Story A Day For the Holidays 2011)
Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (December 18, 2011)

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First of all, I was surprise to find out this was an historical romance, I don’t know but I was of the wrong impression it was more sci-fi/fantasy. In a way, there is a steampunk flavour on it, it’s not that the author pushed much on fantasy details, but I think she took some “liberties” to make the story more a romance than a historical novel. For example, John Fauth is a University professor and a scientist, and his machine to find noble metals seems a little too much futuristic to be true, but I’m not so familiar with the various scientific discoveries and their time to be able to tell how much far from reality the author went. Another of such liberties is maybe the forced profession of Robert Belton, a male prostitute in a brothel in Seattle; while it’s true molly houses and similar places were already existing at the time, a saloon/slash brother in a frontier town like Seattle in 1898 I think was not a common place to find a male prostitute. Again the author made it believable, specifying Robert is a “necessary” evil thing, according to the owner of the brothel; but I wonder who would have been the courage at the time to enter such a place and openly ask for a man instead of a woman (since women were available); from Robert’s words, even if they were not the majority, and the women gained more money than him, he still had customers.

In any case, from my point of view, these were more positive than negative aspects, they made the story more “light” and easy to enjoy. That is probably the main thread of this story, it was quite romantic, sometime even sweet, despite the event that those men had sex without even knowing each other names, and it was more focused on them than on the adventure part of the plot. In the end, John’s target completely changed, and by the way, since the beginning, he was not the aloof professor someone could imagine, but more a man in love, basking in the warm given by the proximity with the object of that love.

Robert is a man who had to do what it had to be done, not for some teary story about little brothers or ailing parents, but simply since he lost all his money gambling and now he has to find a way to pay his ticket to Klondike and an hypothetical treasure (the gold). He doesn’t like what he is doing, but not for the sex per se, but more since he would like to be able to have it with someone he likes more than with strangers. When he meets John, it is a dream comes true, also since John seems to not be reticent to admit his preferences in bed companions, and he is quite good when he is into that be with someone else.

Amazon Kindle: Noble Metals
Publisher: Carnal Passions (January 2, 2012)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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Also Best Gay Novel (3° place)

Allow me to digress a little from the novel, but you will understand that, in the end, I didn’t go so far away from the point. I was kindly offered and ARC of this novel by the publisher; as soon as I started it (and sorry if I was not able to finish it sooner), my curiosity was picked, since I’m an old fan of Casanova, but I didn’t know he had a brother… yes, the author was so good in “preparing” the field for the reader that I really thought I was reading real memoirs and not a fictional work. But then I arrived to the of letter of Benedetto to Gianni Garini, and I wanted to know more, going back to the introduction, to that “with a foreword of Professor Guido Grancuore…”. Originally it was something like Professor Guido Grancuore, Università di S. Matteo (o Marco?), Padua. I don’t think the publisher knew I’m actually from Padua, and I don’t think they knew they did a huge mistake naming the college “S. Matteo”, not since, as the publisher well knew, there is no college “S. Matteo” in Padua, but since the University of Padua, aside from being one of the oldest University in the world, it’s also completely secular, and in no way one of its department could be named after a Saint. When it was founded in 1221, Padua gathered the “almost” heretic scholar from the University of Bologna (founded in 1181) who didn’t want to abide to the Church rule of miracles and divine providence. Those scholars believe in the secular laws of medicine, astronomy and all the other “heretic” matters, and since they couldn’t study it in Bologna, they retired to Padua. That is the reason why, the University of Padua has not the name of a Saint, or a King, or some other very important person, but it is simply named “il Bo’”, i.e. “the Ox”, from the head of an ox that was hanging at the entrance of the inn that initially accommodate them, and that is now the old court of that very same university. When I told to the publisher this same thing, he told me he didn’t want to use the real name but he wanted a “likely” name, something that was right according to the history (and the story). I suggest him to name the fictional college after Elena Cornaro-Piscopia (or Elena Corner della Piscopia), born in 1646 and died in 1684, she was the first woman to officially graduate in an University and she did it in Padua; since she was from a very wealthy family, it’s possible that a college was named after her (basically since her family could have sponsored that), and as the same Marten Weber tells in the acknowledgments, “there should be a university named after her”. And since Elena was an out of the ordinary woman, it’s right she is “used” in the story of an out of the ordinary man, Benedetto Casanova.

Now all of you are wondered, what all of this does it matter with the story? Well it’s a proof more the author paid high attention to all the minimal details, and the feeling of this fictional story is of a very non fictional memoirs, so much that, even for who, like me, lives in the place where part of the story is set, has difficult sometime to distinct reality from fiction, and only for the very fat chance I’m living in that very city, I probably found out one of those little story digressions from history the author took.

The story follows Benedetto Casanova, the less notorious gay brother of Giacomo Casanova, in his love adventures. While he is maybe as libertine as his famous brother, in one thing Benedetto differs from Giacomo, he believes in love. I think that is the main point of the author, since in the end, we will see that Benedetto has reached his dreams, and he is happy, while Giacomo continues in his wicked ways towards destruction. Like Giacomo, Benedetto cannot distinct love from sex, and so there is a lot of sex in this novel, but as I like to remember, one of the judges of the Rainbow Awards who gave an high score to this novel, said that “This was an incredible piece of literature (…) (but) while the writing was excellent and the historical research was compelling, I had a serious problem with the fact that so much of this book was centered on sex. It was like reading a glorified hxxxxxb digest.” For me it is like he was saying, I shouldn’t like this since it’s basically pxxn, but I liked it anyway.

What instead is in common between Giacomo and Benedetto is the hard social criticism they did of their times and politics (and remember, at that time, Church was politics); behind the façade of libertine, Giacomo was in reality, and Benedetto is in fiction, an accurate observer of society, and someone who wasn’t scared to tell the truth.

I highly recommend this novel, but please, be aware of the sexual component of it; knowing what you will find, you will be probably less scandalized and ready to enjoy the fine and clever mind who wrote it.

Amazon: Benedetto Casanova - The Memoirs
Amazon Kindle: Benedetto Casanova - The Memoirs
Paperback: 414 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (March 18, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1461010934
ISBN-13: 978-1461010937



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The first book I read by Megan Derr but for sure not the last, Midnight impressed me for the originality and quality of the story, both characteristics seldom found in independent small presses. Or at least when such presses are targeting a reader in search of “fun”. And please take this as the right compliment I’m paying to this author and this press. It’s not easy to write a story that is able to both involve than amuse you, at the end of Midnight I’m an happy reader, since I spend some pleasant hours with these characters and I would be willing to spend even more time with them, like if I made new friends and I was still eager to know them even better.

It’s “ordinary” to write a paranormal romance about vampires, or elves, or werewolves; if you start to talk about dragons, ghosts, witches or draugrs (from what I understood the historical version of zombies), it starts to be a little less ordinary, but still, I had already read about them in previous paranormal novels… but having all of them together? In an historical setting that was giving a “fashion-like” side to the story? Well that was original, and good.

Devlin White, eleventh Duke of Winterbourne, is a black witch; yes, someone already told me that, if it’s a man, than it’s not a witch but a warlock or a wizard, but in the novel the author appealed to Devlin as a witch and so I will do. Midnight is the Devlin’s ward, an orphaned child Devlin met during one of his mission; unfortunately Devlin was unable to save the six years old child, but when the little thing awake from the death as a draugr, Devlin bound him with a spell to his own life: if Devlin dies, Midnight dies, if Devlin lives, Midnight lives and grows and loves… Devlin. 15 years are passed and Midnight is now a 21 years old youth, beautiful and more than faithful to Devlin and only him; Midnight has always been in love with Devlin, even when he was 6 years old, and that love is the reason why he awake from the death; that innocent love turned into passion when, at 15 years old, he spied Devlin with another man, a beautiful young man with long black hair; Midnight decided he would grew in the perfect image of Devlin’s lover, so that he could replace him in that role. It’s not Devlin who shaped Midnight into his lover, it’s Midnight who has done everything in his power to be the one Devlin can love.

There is a lot to love in this story, basically all the characters are wonderful, even the villains. The half elf, half wolf Barra, the knight Neirin and his dragon Troyes, the vampires Ceadda and Alucard, and many, many other paranormal creatures are more than supporting characters to Devlin and Midnight, but what I probably loved the most in this novel is what I said at the beginning, that it was fun and yes, something even light; there was a lot of “love” for pretty things, Midnight being the prettiest thing of all, and the dark, gothic side of the story was always softened by something sweet and romantic, like a kiss, or pretty and shiny like a useless, but beautiful jewel.

http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=94&products_id=218

Amazon: Midnight
Amazon Kindle: Midnight
Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (January 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936202638
ISBN-13: 978-1936202638



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Knowing (and having read) the previous works by Erastes, I was a little “scared” to start this one: a story about two lovers in the Prussian army during the 1866 war… I was expecting good setting, dark passion and a lot of drama for these two men, and well, the happy end was not a sure thing. But I was wrong. Maybe the author tamed a little her inclination for realistic drama due to the guidelines of the publisher (Carina Press is indeed a romance publisher, and the happy end is one of the sacred rule of the romance), and the result is the same love for a good setting, the same researched and detailed plot but with a little more of happily ever after.

The little different trend is clear from the beginning, when Captain Rudolph von Ratzlaff and First Lieutenant Mathias Hofmann are planning to elope together after one last battle. They are lovers since the day they met in a tavern and even if Mathias wonders how a man of an high social status like Rudolph is willing to share his life with a simple middle class man like him, they are both clearly in love. But the fate decides to make it a little difficult for them and Rudolph suffers from amnesia due to a blow he received in that last battle. He has forgotten the last two years, and so his relationship with Mathias, but he has not forgotten his previous male lover, Ernst, in Berlin. Rudolph is planning to go back to Berlin and to Ernst, and Mathias decides to stay near him, to see if he will regain his memory and with that, their love.

As I said, this novel is way more “light” than expected, and in some point, it sounded almost like a comedy more than drama; Rudolph was not at all a romance hero, on the contrary, sometime he was very much ordinary man, with the related faults: he was easily deceived by a pretty face like Ernst, and even when he realizes that he was manipulated by his same servants, his reaction is “soft”. I had the feeling that Rudolph was a good representative of the aristocracy of the time, maybe a little too used to obtain what he wanted without fighting too much for it. On this regard, Mathias is a little more “active”, and he seems to fight more for their relationship. I have the feeling both of them believed in their love, but I also think there was a good chance for them to not succeed in their common happily ever after due to really stupid obstacles.

I enjoyed Muffled Drum, above all I loved the unexpected “sweet” romance I found.

http://ebooks.carinapress.com/09196D89-072C-4D25-919E-175B46E3B9A5/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=54D0C312-6A2D-4F69-94DE-6DC46E91481A

Amazon Kindle: Muffled Drum
Publisher: Carina Press (July 4, 2011)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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I really, really liked this historical adventure/mystery novel, despite all the ugliness it dealt with it managed to be also sweet and romantic, but I cannot avoid to think the author was a little too severe with one of her characters and I hope she will come back to these men and time.

Former whore Ira Adler is now well nestled with crime lord Cain Goddard. Ira knows Cain’s affair are probably against the law, it was the reason why he ended up with him: Cain was one of Ira’s usual customers, and when the young man came to one of their appointment beaten up by a constable, Cain took care of him and of the constable, only that the output was very different. Cain offered to Ira the role of confidential secretary, teaching him the job, sure, but matching it with other special tasks, tasks that Ira is more than willing to complete.

Aside for being a crime lord, Cain is a perfect romance hero, he is always careful of Ira’s well-being, he never questions him, even when Ira’s word is against that of one of Cain’s oldest employee; Cain is the first to speak the word love, and even if he is aware that Ira is not meeting his feelings, he is also willing to wait for the young man to be ready (of course we are speaking of emotion, on a physical level they are already sharing a life like a married couple and probably more, considering the custom of the time); when time is passing, and Ira is not yet ready, instead of being impatient, Cain is willing to again open his heart and gifting Ira with a tangible sign of his love. I think that, if Ira doesn’t want him, I’m ready to fall in love for him myself.

I understand Ira’s integrity, he hasn’t never had one and now that he has found that being honest is giving him an independency he didn’t know, he is not willing to let it go. And to think that all is due to the only mistake that Cain commits, i.e. to ask to his lover, former pickpocketing thief, to retrieve an object from a man that is blackmailing him. A simple task, something that a former whore like Ira could do blinded, but an event that will also cause Ira to go out from Cain’s umbrella, to go back to his old life for the first time in two years. As I said, that is Cain’s only mistake, he had Ira in a golden cage, a wonderful paradise bird who was singing only for him, but he let it go, and now it will be difficult to convince him to come back.

Ira in his way, feels for Cain, but he is not in love with the man. Ira is probably stronger than Cain, and a little harder to fall in love. Actually, the reader will learn that all of Cain’s trouble, past and present, are always due to his tendency of falling in love, and that is a situation when you are weaker. Again you will understand that, even if I really like Ira, my favourite is Cain, and I hope that, in the end, Ira will see that with love, you can change even the most devil of the crime lords, and Cain is far from being the worst.

http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Affair-of-the-Porcelain-Dog%2C-The-%252d-by-Jess-Faraday

Amazon: The Affair of the Porcelain Dog
Amazon Kindle: The Affair of the Porcelain Dog
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602822301
ISBN-13: 978-1602822306

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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It’s very clear this author is used to write erotic historical romances, and I’d like to highlight the word “erotic”, since in this case it weights a little more than the “historical” one. Nobleman Nathan has done his due to the dukedom, 2 sons and 1 daughter, and now he has no patience left for his demanding wife, a wife that, by the way, has already found a replacement for the role of bedmate. There is no love between Nathan and his wife, and from what I understand, never there was. Even if it’s not detailed, I think their was an arranged marriage of some sort. Sure, to my opinion, Nathan could have found someone nicer to be the mother of his children, but then the children seem to not have taken from their mother.

Lately a new addition to the household has helped with raising the kids: Henry, Nathan’s steward, spends as many time as he can with the children, and they seem to care for him as much as they care for their father. Nathan is not against the idea, but he himself would like to have a deeper bond with the young man, only that Henry has never expressed any interest or given him any signs he would be willing. Aside from that, Henry’s devotion to Nathan is exclusive, and when he learns about a possible threat to the man’s good name, he is ready to risk his cover for him: Henry is a former whore and he escaped a molly house; the man who is blackmailing Nathan is the same man Henry was running away from; of course Henry’s plot will not go as smoothly as he hoped and Nathan will have to help him. That is no surprising at all, what will be a nice surprise for the reader is the changing in powership that will happen between Nathan and Henry.

At the beginning I found Henry to be a little too submissive, too weak; I was already thinking to tag this story as a “classical” breeches rippers, with the poor young man falling in love for the dashing aristocrat; but even if this is a breeches rippers, you will have a surprise on whom will have his breeches ripped. I think this is due to two major factor: Henry’s bad past experience preventing him to fully trust another man, with his body but above all with his freedom, and Nathan’s need for once to not be the one in command, his need to let it go, and exactly at the opposite of Henry, to be able to trust someone with his body and his freedom.

This is book 1 in a series, and it’s clear who will be the pair of book 2. What remained an open point is if maybe this is not a spin off of some other series by the same author, mainly since some of the supporting characters, having only a cameo role, gave me the idea to have a some sort of shared past with both Henry than Nathan, and so there was a little bit the feeling to be plunged in the middle of the action with little preparation. But in a way, it was no bad, since the reader was soon at the main course, without wasting much time with the appetizers.

Amazon Kindle: Almost an Equal (The Hunt Club Chronicles - Book 1)
Publisher: Night Shift Publishing (June 15, 2011)

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It’s almost funny to read how Otis Bigelow (famous to be the most handsome man of the ’40s in New York City, and coveted by millionaires and artists) reported as being gay “was an upscale thing to be”, but at the same time the author reports as just “across town from Park Avenue swells who entertained him so lavishly in their duplex apartments, a completely different kind of gay life was thriving in Times Square”. This was and is New York City, and as in the ’40s, also now there is a melting pot of cultures, and each culture wants to reclaim their identity. Otis Bigelow was not wrong as they were not wrong the obvious fairies of Times Square, they were simply navigating in different circles.

The “hidden in plain sight” approach was apparently pretty common in the ’40s, and so we learn from the memory of a fund boy from New England who wants to remain anonymous as he went to school with John Fitzgerald Kenney, and between the two, the outcast was Kennedy; but there is also the inside news of how JFK’s roommate, Lemoyne Billings, was gay and how he remained family friend even after the president election.

And from the words of many gay men who was there and lived that ’40s atmosphere the general opinion is that, you could be gay since you simply didn’t flaunt it. One of them cite a certain Mrs. Patrick Campbell who said “My dear, I don’t care what people do as long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses”. That is basically what Otis Bigelow and those other anonymous voices implied, you were free to be gay as far as you were gay inside “private” locations.

And maybe that is the reason why, in a period when civil rights were starting to be a common agenda of many politicians, it was not the same when those rights regarded LGBT people. You were free inside your private home, btw if you were wealthy enough to have that safe home, but you were also captive of your own golden cage.

There is a long session devoted to the gays in the military during the WWII. A nice introduction probably explains how the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was introduced, but mostly it’s about those men who remained (or went back) into the closet, not for the fear of being discovered, but to avoid to be refused the chance to protect their country as soldiers.

In the post-war stories, the one I liked the most is the friendship between Paul Cadmus and E.M. Forster, and how Cadmus was aware of Forster’s novel Maurice, a novel the author refused to publish until after his death to not damage his policeman “friend” (who was married).

The ’50s is a period of euphoria but apparently it also started the period when being gay was dangerous, and so it should be hidden; if in the ’40 you could be gay inside private walls, in the ’50s even that freedom was a danger, and the walls of a room became the more confined space of a closet. As for many others, gays became the target of a witch hunt. Maybe for this reason, late in the ’50s the main tendency was to “blend” and you see gays people getting married, with or without the knowledge of the wife.

The ’60s see a surge of consciences, in all the level of society, and so also among gays and lesbians. New York saw not only the first religious congregation for gays, but also Columbia University became one of the first colleges to give formal recognition to a gay students organization. Homosexuality exited from the closet and arrived in television, with a ground-breaking documentary, The Homosexuals.

The bridge between the ’60 and the ’70 is Stonewall, and so from that moment on there will be always a pre and post-Stonewall gay and lesbian movement and culture: “although millions would remain in the closet, within a year after Stonewall, thousands of men and women would find the courage to declare themselves for the first time”. Not only, being gay, or at least bisexual, was almost “fashionable”, and in many media, television, cinema, publishing, the gay characters not only started to make their appearance, they were also, sometime, positively accepted by the mainstream public. And also Forster’s Maurice came out of the closet. The ’70 see the sexual revolution, a sexual revolution that happened also within the LGBT community.

The ’80 and the beginning of the ’90 is the Dark Ages of the LGBT community, the AIDS plague killed so many, that almost completely deprived the world of an entire generation. There is visibly a jump, if you browse the net for notably LGBT characters, those born in the ’50 and ’60 are almost all among the victims. As reported “New York had far more AIDS cases than any other city in America”. One man stated “I know 450 people that died of AIDS that I can count. Thirty to 40 of my close friends that I had made from 1967 to today died from this disease”. It’s painful to read this part of the books, even more painful if you compare it to the energy that you had just felt in the stories of those men of the ’50 and ’60 and ’70, men who were eager to claim their homosexuality.

Maybe due to the imperative of being more mainstream to protect their rights among the massacre that was the AIDS catastrophe, the ’90 see the LGBT community enters politics and starting to put their weight on who has to represent them.

It was a long ride to arrive to the end of this book, but it was a very enlightening ride. Charles Kaiser managed to always bring alive the men he is talking about, with their dreams, fears, love and betrayals. It’s a wonderful essay that you read like a novel, with the easiness of a collection of short stories, only that the characters in those short stories are real life men and women.

Amazon: The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America
Amazon Kindle: The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (June 10, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802143172
ISBN-13: 978-0802143174

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Definitely a good Regency romance, maybe a little too much focused on the war and diplomatic issue of the time (but that is probably justified by one of the hero being an officer) but nevertheless very romantic.

What is probably the best achievement of the author is to make me like Charlotte “Lottie”, a supporting character that I was ready to hate even before starting the book; true, in the blurb they presented her like a supporter of Charlie and Tristan’s relationship, she is Charlie’s sister and Tristan’s wife, but well, she had two children from Tristan and I didn’t think it was really possible she had no amorous feelings for her husband. So, or she was a sad wife who realized she couldn’t have the love of her life, or she was someone who really didn’t care for her husband at all. She is nor one or the other. Lottie is a practical woman, and apparently she has no romantic dreams; I have the feeling that, if she met the right man, she would fall in love, but, first she is not searching and second, that man had to have a very strong will to match a woman like Lottie. In the meantime, Lottie had nothing against the idea of the arranged marriage with Tristan, mostly since it allowed her to be independent. The relationship with her father is strange, but the reader will later realize the reason of that.

This long introduction is also giving you the idea of how important Tristan’s bisexuality is for the plot; actually Tristan is not bisex, he is strictly heterosexual until he meets Charlie, but this is not a gay for you story. Tristan has a complex relationship with his father, marred by the wrong idea that if Tristan is not a perfect son, his father will not love him; and since Tristan is far from being perfect, at least at his own eyes, he thinks no one can love him. Being homosexual, a sodomite, is not an option, and Tristan is repressing his feelings so much that it will lead him to a nervous breakdown. The reason? I think that, until he is having affair with women that are as much disinterest as him, he is not facing the issue of his homosexuality; but when he meets Lottie, a woman who is more than worthy to be loved, and he is not able to “impress” her enough to build a love relationship, he has to admit that the love of a woman is not what he is seeking, and that is the end. Doesn’t really matter that probably Lottie will never find the right man, that is not Tristan’s fault, and that, more or less, their marriage is a good one, probably better than most of the bon-ton marriages around them.

If the first part of the novel is a little slow, or maybe I read it like that since I was not really interested in that part of the story, when Charlie enters the scene the story takes a faster pace, and the love relationship between Charlie and Tristan is one of both love, trust and friendship. There are really no obstacle to their love, Lottie not only approves of that, she is even encouraging it, and even who is not aware of the personal nature of their bond is favouring it, for the good influence that Charlie has on the former scoundrel that was Tristan. Maybe that was something not really realistic, as probably it’s not Tristan’s choice to become a doctor (no aristocrat of the time would probably considering such idea); but there are example of middle class men of the time who were scientist or intellectual, so maybe it’s not impossible that someone like Tristan, after having assured to his descendants a good future, could spend the rest of his life doing something he enjoys.

I didn’t speak a lot of Charlie; he is not at all a plain character, on the contrary, he is a noble and sensitive man, but probably in comparison to Tristan he is too “good”, and you know, the bad guy is always attracting the romance readers ;-) but joke aside, Charlie is an impressive romance reader, and someone with a great courage, not only on the battle field but also when dealing with love and relationship.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2292

Amazon: Kindred Hearts
Amazon Kindle: Kindred Hearts
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 2, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1615818987
ISBN-13: 978-1615818983

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This is a collection of two novellas, completely different in theme and setting but from the same author, and so, with the same feeling.

This Ground Which Was Secured at Great Expense is a First World War tale, the time is the beginning of the twenty century, and as I often say, you can feel the changing in the air: the soldiers, and in particular the officers, are more knights than war-meat and honour is still a concept taken into consideration.

Nicholas Southwell is a member of nobility and while he is in love with his estate manager Paul Haskell, he thinks this love unrequited; plus there is the war in France and every men worthy of that name feels as he needs to enlist. Even if Nicholas denies it when Paul suggests the idea, I also think that Paul’s pacifist ideas don’t fit well with Nicholas’s heroic idea of what is war. Truth to Paul, he is unfit to enlist due to a trouble to his leg, so in any case there was no chance for him.

At French’s front, Nicholas meets Philip, another fellow officer, another man from nobility… again, I don’t want to be unkind with Nicholas, but I think that is fast shifting of interest from Paul to Philip is also due to the fact that Philip fits better the idea of companion that Nicholas has in mind. True, Paul is not so welcoming of the hero when Nicholas comes back home on a leave, and instead Philip is there, willing to comfort the broken heart nursed by both of them for different men (also Philip has another lover, Fergal).

In a way or the other, it will not be Nicholas that will choose, events bigger than him will path his way out of the emotional trap he himself built around his heart.

The Case of the Overprotective Ass is set at the end of the Second World War; less than 40 years divide the two novellas but the men in them are completely different. Gone is the idea of heroic knights at war, gone is the uncertainty about each other feelings, what remains is the forbidden relationship between two men.

Alistair and Toby are two heartthrob of the UK movie industry of the ’50. Like many closet cases of the time, while they love each other and are in an exclusive relationship since years, to the public opinion they are best friends and contendants to the heart of fellow actress Fiona.

The intake of this story is light and mostly funny; Alistair and Toby are also surer of each other feelings and as such, they display their affection with more freedom than Nicholas and Paul.

I really am not able to say what is the more romantic between the two novellas, as I said they are very different; maybe the first one has a little more bittersweet aftertaste, while instead Alistair and Toby’s story is sparkling, a good parallelism is dark red wine against champagne… you can appreciate both, but not compare them.

http://www.cheyennepublishing.com/books/fires.html

Amazon: Home Fires Burning
Amazon Kindle: Home Fires Burning
Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 098282677X
ISBN-13: 978-0982826775



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

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