Handsome Mark Antonious deMontford had been raised on a farm in Newbury, England, unaware of his parentage until his nineteenth birthday when, during a visit to London, he encounters a world of wealth, intense sexual appetites, and an Italian by the name of Francesco. Francesco Cavalla is bold and fearless. But the powerful bodyguard who lives by the sword is also a slave to his heart. Abandoned by a former lover, stranded in a foreign land, Francesco loses himself in London’s red light district where he spends his nights drowning in taking and giving pleasure. Then he meets Mark, a man who needs so much, and who he can deny nothing. Mark and Francesco begin a journey of discovery, which takes them to new heights of passion. But when an unexpected turn of events threatens to reveal secrets that mark them for death, the two men are faced with a decision. Abandon one another, or truly embark on the quest of a lifetime.
I have to say that this was one of the funniest (unintentionally) books that I’ve read for a long while. There was nothing I could take seriously, because the entire thing read like it had been translated by someone who didn’t speak English as a first language and had done their research (if any) with movies.
The main character, the bizarrely named Mark Antonious deMontford is the ubiquitous “innocent” who has been gently raised on a farm in Newbury and who is taken to London to meet some cousins. He is immediately sexually predated upon by everyone in the house, and his reaction is … well, none, really. The mother, the father, the son and even the 15 year old daughter (who he spurns for being a child, but that’s obviously for the American censor rather than for any realism) make passes at him and in 3 of the 4 cases, suceed in doing anything to Mark they want.
I nearly stopped on page one because right from the first paragraph the facts were wrong:
During the final year of Queen Anne’s reign of England, Antonio Vivaldi astonished audiences with his miraculous Four Seasons…”
I don’t remember any time when Vivaldi came to England and surely the most cursory search on The Four Seasons should havs shown that it was not composed until 1723.
One fact, I thought anyone can make mistakes – It’s all right, so I moved on. Only to find on the next page “brownstone houses” in London. Then there’s mention of polo ponies, pooftahs, gaslight in 1713(!) performances of operas that couldn’t have happened, streets in the wrong locations, places mentioned-like Mayfair-that didn’t even exist… the list goes on and on.
I say bizarrely named, because it’s never explained why he’s got such a peculiar name. He’s the illegitimate son of a travelling singer called Elizabeth Jones and a rich and powerful Venetian politician called Marc Antinous Caeserni. So where the deMontford comes in, (as he would have been called Jones) and why he’s Antonious and not Antinous, is just never explained. I have to say that it was not the only thing I was baffled about.
I won’t waste much time on the characterization because there really isn’t any. We are told that Mark is beautiful–so beautiful that every single person, male female eunuch and child wants him immediately–but other than his green eyes and velvet skin and interminably mentioned long hair, we get no idea of why he’s so irresistable. He wavers from disgust at his mother’s fall from grace (while fucking everyone in sight) to fury at his father’s abandonment, so much so he behaves like a positive psycho.
The secondary characters are no better, unable to think with anything but their gonads once they’ve set eyes on Mark, and unable to speak in anything but the most appalling stilted prose.
Here’s an exchange with his cousin who he has just met, and who comes to his room.
“You lovely thing. Why have they kept you away from us for so long?” Richard closed the gap between them and dug his left hand into Mark’s long hair.
Mark swallowed down a dry throat. Could he have been right then?
“God, you are glorious. I must have you!” Richard pressed against his length. “Don’t say no, it isn’t polite.”
Then there’s this whole theme running throughout the book about Mark having to be reminded to eat with his knife and I really didn’t get this at all. It was the fork that was the new innovation at this time, and although had been around for a while, it was still considered an affection and wasn’t generally used except by the rich. Also, the forks generally had only two tines, so this passage:
Mark sat straighter and realized he’d forgotten to use the knife. He cursed under his breath and grabbed it, trying to remember how to use the darn thing. Let’s see, scoop? No. Oh, that’s right, use it as a wall to fill the fork.
I wouldn’t make such a big deal about this, if the author didn’t, but this is brought up at least four or five times and I was entirely baffled. Why doesn’t he know how to use his knife? Then I realised. This is an American author, and the Americans tend to use their knife rarely and the English use both knife and fork. This makes this passage highly amusing, particularly so as you couldn’t mash the food against a two tined fork. Without knife or fork I can only imagine he was eating with his fingers in Newbury.
Factual errors aside, I found this a painful read. Had every fact been correct I would still have found it so, because the prose is so dreadful throughout. Having worked with Linden Bay Romance myself, I find it hard to believe that that company edited it, as the pronoun confusion and often bizarre sentences need red-penning. Badly.
To make matters worse, if that’s possible, there’s literally no sex in the book. Oh yes, Mark has sex with just about everyone he meets, but it’s almost closed door sex, so briefly described that I can’t even recommend it as a wank book.