In 1920’s Ireland, Shannon understands all too well that the love and hunger he feels for his best friend, Ciaran, is forbidden. He’s already shunned by his town and emotionally damaged from enduring painful confessions after a male teacher’s molestation at age fourteen. But when he finds Ciaran grieving over the sudden death of his mother in a barn, a hasty and desperate embrace shatters an unspoken boundary between them.
Shannon and Ciaran are sent on a journey to Dublin to bring a family heirloom to Ciaran’s aunt. Along the way, a drunken evening leads to an illicit act in a hotel room, confusing Ciaran and forcing them both down a treacherous path of deceit and desire. Can love overcome the obstacles of Irish society, the Catholic Church, and political unrest?
Review by Erastes
First off, I don’t get the cover. I think it’s a bad mistake on the publisher’s part and may make many people veer off. It’s obviously aimed at the yaoi market, and if I had seen this in a store, I wouldn’t have touched it, because I’m not a fan of that genre. I’d have had no idea it was a historical, and certainly not one about 1920’s Ireland.
Similarly the book’s layout. I was frankly baffled as to why the font inside and outside was oriental. Very, very odd and clashed terribly with the geographical tone of the story. It jolted me every chapter, in fact, and I hadn’t realised how much a layout mattered to keeping the reader focussed.
One of the character’s names – Shannon – jolted me too. There’s no way any Roman Catholic boy in Ireland in the early part of the last century would have been called (or would have got away with having their son christened) Shannon. Boys were (and still are) named after saints. Shannon is an American name and came into fashion there in the 40’s by ex-patriot Irish who felt nostalgic for the homeland. Like Tara.
OK – so not off to a great start. But I hoped that things would improve as we went on, but sadly they didn’t.
This isn’t Ireland in the 1920s. This is a mish mash of Hollywood and Tom Cruise land where every potato farmer has a gas stove (puh-leeze, most rural communities don’t have those NOW) a butcher’s block and a horse and cart. Typical Irish villages have drugstores. Save me. The research wobbles hugely, having potatoes “finished planting” in August. er, no. And Boxer Shorts? In the 1920’s? Please, authors, if you are going to write gay fiction, the VERY LEAST you need to know is the history of men’s underpants.
I don’t generally advocate the use of films for research, but if the author had bothered to watch Ryan’s Daughter – or even The Quiet man – she’d get more a feel of the era than this.
Here’s a very small list of the things that were entirely wrong in about three pages.
1. en suite showers (perhaps, just, in a five star hotel in Dublin, not in a tatty hotel one day out of Dublin, even if they did charge six pounds a night.)
2. “shepard’s pie”
4 Waitresses and food in pubs
6. paying the tab
8. Buying a book by Oscar Wilde
The two young men take a private horse and trap (er – I thought they were poor) to Dublin, ( have NO idea why they didn’t take the train) – stop at a drugstore and buy Dorian Gray which would never have been for sale in any shop let alone non existent drugstores. They stay in a hotel which costs six pounds (equivalent to at least £200 in today’s money and a ludicrous amount, not only for a hotel, but for POOR POTATO FARMERS to pay.
I’m afraid writing wise I wasn’t at all impressed. Adjectives peppered the text like raindrops, just about every noun had an adjective and that can be a little wearing. Unforgiveable editing errors such as “chicken’s clucked” “running a ginger hand down Ciaran’s side” and Every Single Mention of the word “reins” is spelled REIGNS. Also abounding are clunky sentences like these, which read like bad translations from another language. ( you can see another instance of this in the blurb itself)
He ambled in silence with Ciaran behind him to the house.
That evening, he lay restless on his back in his bed.
All of which served to amuse and then gradually to irritate.
The characters are clearly girls, they cry, gasp, have curves and ansgt like a ravished nun at confession. It’s implied that Shannon is only gay because he was interfered with–a trope that I’m getting very sick of.
I won’t go on. In fact I am not going to continue with the review. Perhaps someone might like it who likes the kind of fanfic where the boys are actually girls and have actual curves like Ciaran does, or someone who like overly angsty yaoi, but I found absolutely nothing to recommend it, and it’s probably the most insulting book for the time, the place, and the gay historical genre I’ve ever had the displeasure to read.