Hi, everyone, welcome back to another edition of Flashback Friday! This week’s feature takes us back in time as we pay tribute to the Historical Romance genre. Once again, it wasn’t easy to settle on just one book. In fact, part of my problem this week was picking just one book from one of the best historical romance authors in the genre, when I really could have just said, “All of them.” So, once again, I imagine we’ll see this category pop up again in the future. 😀
And, speaking of the future, Flashback Friday will be going on hiatus for the next two weeks—we’re taking off for GayRomLit and then my family vacation to Disney World (woot!), following that. 🙂 But we’ll be back with another installment on Friday, October 30th. So stay tuned…we may have some rather spooktastic recs for you just in time for Halloween. 🙂
Also, the winner of last week’s Young Adult/New Adult giveaway was Julie Smalls, who chose Hayden Thorne’s The Twilight Gods as her prize. Congratulations, Julie!
So, without further ado, here are this week’s Historical Faves. As always, be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win one of the titles.
When I am thinking about buying a historical, I tend to gravitate to the regency period, which is one of the reasons this book really stood out for me. I love these authors and I was entranced by this book, The Lion of Kent by Aleksandr Voinov and Kate Cotoner. Squire William Raven is bold. He’s gunning for his spurs to become a knight and will let nothing stand in his way. When his lord, Sir Robert de Cantilou, returns from the Holy Land, he sees his chance. The historical accuracy of this book takes you straight back to medieval times and makes the book a treat to read. What more could bring a prideful squire to his knees than the love of his lord? The settings and story arc are believable for the times, and the characters are exceptionally well drawn for a novella. This is a story of true romance in an incredibly masculine setting. Sir Robert “sees” William – he sees past the bastard child with the chip on his shoulder to the friend underneath, and William is not intimidated by the returning warrior but is in love with the man.
I loved these characters and found myself wanting more and was ecstatic to find William, now known as the Lion of Kent, in another short novel, Deliverance. I highly recommend both books!
Blurb: Squire William Raven has only one goal–to finally receive his spurs and become a knight. When his lord, Sir Robert de Cantilou, returns from a five-year crusade in the Holy Land, William wants nothing more than to impress him.
After Sir Robert’s return, noble guests arrive from France, bringing intrigue to the castle. William is oblivious to the politics, as he’s distracted by nightly visits from a faceless lover–a man who pleasures him in the dark and then leaves–a man he soon discovers is none other than his master, Sir Robert.
But William can’t ignore the scheming around him when he overhears a plot to murder Robert. He becomes intent on saving his lord and lover from those who would see him killed…
I love historical fiction so much, especially those set in the Victorian period. It’s such a fascinating time to read about because of how different everything was. This still holds true for m/m fiction. I know some people don’t like it because it’s not relatable, due to the laws at the time, but I’ve always found forbidden love to be the sweetest, and what could be more forbidden than two men during this time?
Thief by Ava March is one of my favorites. The first in the Brook Street trilogy, the book centers on Lord Benjamin and Cavin, a thief. Benjamin prefers men and he decides he wants to experience being with a man at least once. There he meets Cavin, and their fates are sealed.
What made this book even better for me was the class differences. Cavin may be a thief, but it’s by circumstance. He’s the underdog trying to get by, and even though some might disagree with how he gets by, I found him sympathetic. He’s warm and cares for a young boy whom he looks after as a brother. And Benjamin, once he gets a taste of men, embraces his sexuality.
The author does a fantastic job of transporting readers to 1800s London. I was there with the men as they travelled through gambling hells to rough parts of the city and beyond. Ava March writes this time period incredibly well, and readers of historical fiction will enjoy spending time with her characters.
Blurb: London, 1822 … It was only supposed to be one night. One night to determine once and for all if he truly preferred men. But the last thing Lord Benjamin Parker expected to find in a questionable gambling hell is a gorgeous young man who steals his heart.
It was only supposed to be a job. Cavin Fox has done it many times — select a prime mark, distract him with lust, and leave his pockets empty. Yet when Cavin slips away under the cover of darkness, the only part of Benjamin he leaves untouched is his pockets.
With a taste of his fantasies fulfilled, Benjamin wants more than one night with Cavin. But convincing the elusive young man to give them a chance proves difficult. Living with a band of thieves in the worst area of London, Cavin knows there’s no place for him in a gentleman’s life. Yet Benjamin isn’t about to let Cavin—and love—continue to slip away from him.
I was introduced to the author with one of the M/M Goodreads Group’s free story events in the summer of 2011, when she first participated with a beautiful story called Like the Taste of Summer. I loved that story – gave it 5 stars, in fact, and realized this was an author to watch. She has since become an auto-buy for me.
The next summer she wrote another, much longer story for the same event. In fact, it ended up being novel length. That is the story I want to recommend to lovers of Historical Fiction. It’s called Into Deep Waters, and it tells the story of Daniel and Jacob, who meet on ship during WWII.
What starts out as a shipboard friendship becomes a one true love. This story covers so much history – not just Jacob and Daniel’s history but the history of those couples who were forced to live in the shadows because their love was not accepted. We get to watch Daniel and Jacob negotiate a changing world and live through a life both beautiful and scary. I’d like to share some of my original Goodreads review for this story.
Their first furtive kiss, their first night together on shore leave, their worry about each other as they are out at sea in battles – all lift their love right off the pages. When they are separated after their ship sinks and Jacob is too injured to return to the Navy, Daniel’s letters remind us of the horrors of war, while Jacob waits and worries. Their reunion, their trying to make their way as a couple hidden from everyone else in their lives reminds us how much things have changed. And yet, the acceptance by Jacob’s sister and her husband and their children also remind us that there have been straight allies too.
The writing in this story is nothing short of brilliant. If you haven’t read it yet, I’m happy to tell you that Kaje Harper is going to be releasing this story in Audiobook format sometime later this month – maybe as early as next week! Do yourself a favor and pick up this wonderful story in whatever format you prefer – you won’t be disappointed!
Blurb: For Jacob and Daniel, two young gay men aboard a Navy ship in WWII, the risks were high. Not just the risks of injury and death from Japanese planes and submarines, but the risk of discovery, of discharge, imprisonment or worse. Only a special kind of love was worth taking that chance. But from the moment Daniel met Jacob’s eyes across a battle-scarred deck, he knew he had to try.
Being together required figuring out what it meant to be gay and in love with another man, in an era when they could be jailed or committed for admitting the desires of their hearts. On a ship at war, their relationship was measured in stolen moments and rare days of precious leave, with no guarantees there would be a tomorrow. And if they survived the war, they would need even more luck to keep their love alive through all the years to come.
This Novel Can Be Downloaded for FREE on Smashwords
As I said up ^^^ there, there’s an author who is outstanding in the Historical Romance category. This author isn’t perhaps as prolific as many of her peers in the M/M genre, but her writing is second to none. The fact that reading her books isn’t necessarily a history lesson but that you end up learning a little as a residual effect of falling in love with her characters and settings and the myriad things that happen, or have happened, to them are all just a bonus to her brilliant wordsmithing.
The author I’m speaking of is Tamara Allen, and while I could have gone with any one of her books this week, I’m settling on her post-World War I novel, Whistling in the Dark, a book I discovered back in June of 2011.
The story takes place in New York City, in 1919, on the cusp of Prohibition and the era when the American gangster began finding fame. Or infamy, I suppose. It follows not only “the war to end all wars” but also follows one of the deadliest outbreaks of influenza this country has ever known. The 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic wiped out more Americans than US servicemen and civilians killed in the war. Some of these young men and women returned home from foreign soil only to discover their families had been decimated by the flu while they’d been off fighting.
This is the case for Jack Bailey and Sutton Albright, two veterans who each have their fair share of external and internal scars, and two men who deal with their pain in their own ways. They’re making their way the best they know how—which isn’t at all well since they meet in prison. Not an unusual occurrence for Jack, but for Sutton it’s all a bit overwhelming. Finding himself on the wrong end of a proposition has landed this Kansas native in the Big Apple in jail for indecent behavior.
To steal a little snippet from the review I wrote for the book:
Surrounded by a small group of friends, Jack and Sutton find that strength comes in the numbers of those who love and support them unconditionally. Even in the face of his family’s potential rejection, Sutton finds the mere prospect of happily-ever-after a far more compelling force than returning to a life that could not possibly fulfill him. Jack’s love for Sutton is “a promise that, even when the world was falling down around him, would stay kept. But without saying a word, he knew that there would be comfort when he couldn’t sleep tonight. And tomorrow and the day after, there would be a home to go to, even if it was no more than a pair of arms around him and a head tucked close to his in the darkness.”
Through the power of music and the fledgling medium of radio broadcasting, Jack and Sutton each find the will and the hope to fulfill their dreams, while at the same time forming a bond that will prove to be the best medicine for the battle scars that afflict them both. The two men discover that though the war has ended, their fight is far from over, a fight for healing, for redemption, and for the right to love.
Whistling in the Dark is an absolute treasure for fans of historical fiction. Or, to borrow an adjective from Jack’s own colorful repertoire—it’s crackerjack.
Blurb: New York, 1919. His career as a concert pianist ended by a war injury, Sutton Albright returns to college, only to be expelled after an affair with a teacher. Unable to face his family, he heads to New York with no plans and little money—only a desire to call his life his own.
Jack Bailey’s life has changed as well. After losing his parents in the influenza epidemic, he hopes to save their beloved novelty shop—now his—by advertising on the radio, barely more than a novelty, itself.
Sutton lands work in Jack’s corner of the city and the two conclude they couldn’t be less suited for friendship. But when Sutton loses his job, Jack gives him a place to stay. Sutton returns to the piano to play for Jack and finds the intervening months have healed him. The program promises to rescue Jack’s business and Sutton’s career…but success brings its own risks for two men falling in love.
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