Easing back into reviewing with a book that has been on my TBR since June of last year!
"Lie back and think of England... "
England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.
Curtis' search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.
As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there s something else they share a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.
As the house party s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before.
At first I wasn’t sure of Archie’s hero-ness, as he has some historically-accurate feelings about Jewish people, effeminate men, and “queers” that didn’t mesh well with the romantic element and furthermore made me very uncomfortable. It also isn’t that usual for a romantic lead to feel disgust for his romantic interest, either.
But over the course of the book things changed! His thinking was forced open by his interactions with his queer effeminate Jewish love interest, in a way which I found realistic-ish as Archie wasn’t a horrible person, just prejudiced and sort of blind to himself– not introspective, nor imaginative, and so he hadn’t bothered to really think of his attraction to men beyond the basic “yes, that feels nice.” Falling in love with a man wasn’t ever in his worldview until it happened, basically.
By the end of the book I was very proud of him, as he accepted himself, his desires, and his interest in pursuing a relationship with love interest. His speech at the end was so lovely! I also heartily loved Daniel, his love interest, who is snarky and super competent and has a nipple ring, a necessary accessory for every heartthrob.
The spy stuff was great, too! I tend to focus on the romance in a story because it’s my favorite part, but the non-romantic side of the plot was exciting and scary and pretty action-packed for taking place entirely in one location. Would definitely love more books with these characters! And that ending definitely left room for sequels, so I very much hope they show up sometime in the future.
Read: September 28, 2016