Desmond & Garrick: Books One and Two seem very much the books Jane Austen might have written had Ms. Austen written GLBT Young Adult Paranormal Fiction, as told through the omniscient narrator who leads the reader through this coming-of-age series set during the Regency Era, one of my favorite historical settings.
Hayden Thorne has deftly captured the subtle humor in the day-in-the-life events of Desmond Hathaway, a beautiful young vampire caught in the throes of a teenage romantic triangle, and his tutor Garrick Mortimer, a man of science who is not predisposed in the slightest to the dramatic nature of love and matters of the heart.
Desmond and Garrick mix like the proverbial oil and water, their dispositions toward the emotional and the logical, respectively, causing an early friction that, as they spend more time together, begins to blur as they each influence changes in the other’s points of view. Horace Walpole’s “This world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel,” perfectly defines the way in which the blend of characters in these novels juxtapose one another, from the exaggeratedly expressive vampires to the comically horrible poets to the various other humans and vampires who weave their way into and out of the story.
Sixteen-year-old Desmond has been sent down from Wyndham for what can only be attributed to his normal vampyric nature: the tragic allure, instinctive brooding, and inhuman beauty a temptation to both boys and girls alike, a distraction that sees him expelled for being “a most insufferable saucebox and a bad influence on his mortal classmates,” though one human classmate, in particular, Phillip Priestley, is the cause of all of Desmond’s angst.
Young love is thwarted when Phillip unkindly rejects Desmond’s feelings, which sends Desmond into an even deeper level of despondency than would be his usual tendency toward melodrama and despair. It’s at this point in Desmond’s life that Garrick is hired to move into Dryden Abbey, the Hathaway home, and carry on with Desmond’s education, a challenge for which the proud and penniless genius was somewhat unprepared but is up to, nonetheless, given his goal of studying the vampire family. What Garrick was entirely unprepared for is that, along the way, he would become fond of the Hathaway clan and all their colorful eccentricities.
When prodigal son Harper Hathaway returns to Dryden Abbey with a group of poets in tow, life in the household is turned upside down, as the questionably talented human artists demand that family magician, Fitzgibbon Guiderius, provide the extracurricular paranormal activity with which they will become inspired to create their dreadful verse. Along with Harper and his human companions comes eighteen-year-old vampire poet Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a surly and sulky young man with whom Desmond becomes both infatuated and infuriated by, in equal measure.
While life attempts to carry on in somewhat normalcy, what’s normal for the Hathaway family, at any rate, the invasion of Harper and guests provides for its share of comedic turmoil and romantic entanglements, especially the longer they remain at the abbey. And just as Leigh and Desmond seem capable of making even the slightest headway in a connection, Phillip Priestly returns to complicate matters, sending Desmond into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions.
Delightfully clever and exceedingly charming, the Desmond & Garrick series is one that is like a full immersion into the year 1815, though with a very contemporary feel. Intelligent and witty dialogue, engaging characters, and a vivid picture of the time period provide the foundation for the very modern issues of first love, broken hearts, and the torture (in this case, literal!) of the choices we make, along with the mistakes, in the process of growing up.