Devlin Montebanc knows that a Victorian man needs a place to go, some place he can be at ease, enjoying his port, his cigars, and some special male companionship. That’s why he maintains the Hyacinth Club, a traditional men’s club with a twist.
The sophisticated men of the Hyacinth Club find their pleasure in this series of bawdy tales, from a Scottish earl who falls in love with a Texas rebel, to a bored noble who finds an innocent young scholar to instruct in the ways of dominance and submission. See how repressed those Victorians weren’t. Read Hyacinth Club today.
Review by Alex Beecroft
I feel I need to start this review off by explaining where I’m coming from as a reader. If you know what I like in a book, it’ll be clearer to you whether you share the same perspective, and whether you might expect to agree with me on the review or not.
I freely admit I am a narrative junkie. What I’m primarily looking for in a book is a gripping story; characters who I can love, or at least sympathise with, overcoming obstacles and challenges in an effort to obtain their hearts’ desires.
That makes me unsuitable to review this book, however. The Hyacinth Club is not really a narrative at all. I would say it was stretching it even to call it a ‘series of bawdy tales’, unless you think that ‘A meets B, they have lots of sex’ is a tale.
Essentially, the book is a series of sexual encounters between several different pairs of men, though I believe there’s a threesome towards the end (my brain had become oversaturated by then and had switched off.) Each pair follows the formula ‘A meets B, instant attraction, sex, vows that the other is the most perfect person ever, more sex, calling each other pet names, more sex.’
There is some differentiation of characters; ‘the Texan’ has a Texan accent and he calls his Scottish lover ‘my Scot’, which helped me to remember which pair we were talking about in their case.
There is an extremely seme/uke pair. A pair I couldn’t tell apart other than they called each other ‘my Fox’ and ‘my Dragon’ (they met at a masquerade). A slightly lower class pair whose re-union at the docks I found quite touching. A big Scotsman and a little actor, who seemed to belong in a different book entirely (a book which I would probably have enjoyed more.) But all these promising beginnings lead so inevitably to the sex and the declarations of perfection that I lost interest about 30 pages in and almost despaired when I reached page 92, only to discover there were 100 pages still to go.
I’m not in any way saying that this was a badly written book. On the contrary, apart from the stilted ‘olde worlde’ dialogue of the first couple, which did get on my nerves, it’s clear that BA Tortuga is a good writer. I believe it’s entirely possible that she is good at characterization, though it’s all but impossible for that to come out when the characters do nothing but have sex. The settings were nicely drawn, and though I admit I had thought they were 18th Century until I read the blurb, that might be more a product of my own obsessions than any fault of hers.
And the sex scenes are very good; well drawn, lush without being tasteless, hot, varied and prolonged. It’s an amazing achievement considering how technically difficult it is to write sex. It’s just not my cup of tea.
I wanted conflict, drama, heroism, true love winning out over almost insuperable obstacles, but there was no conflict whatsoever. Not even conflict of the internal, psychological kind. None of these Victorian men, not even the innocent ingénue, seemed at all troubled by the thought that they were doing something their society perceived to be criminally immoral. True love turned up and everyone skipped directly to – heh – the climax.
I might even have preferred ‘Victorian men fuck like bunnies’ if it had not been overlaid with the ‘A+B+great sex = automatic HEA’ message, which I found a bit, well, shmoopy. But that’s probably just me being cynical.
Basically, if you read m/m fiction for the sex, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a story of some kind – if sex only becomes meaningful for you in the context of everything else the characters have gone through together – I would advise you to give it a miss.
Available from Torquere Books