Title: Man & Beast (The Savage Land: Book One)
Author: Michael Jensen
Publisher: BK Books
Length: 307 Pages
Category: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: Author Michael Jensen has melded factual research with fiction to create an eerily shocking mystery.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: What is the line that separates man from beast?
The year is 1797, and 24-year-old John Chapman is lost on the American frontier with winter falling fast. Near death, he stumbles upon a lone cabin, and the owner, a rugged but sexy frontiersman named Daniel McQuay, agrees to let John winter over.
John and Daniel quickly find themselves drawn to each other, the sex between them unlike anything John has ever known. But as the weeks turn into snowbound months, Daniel begins to change into someone brutish, and the line between man and beast disappears.
With the arrival of spring, John flees, eventually finding refuge in the company of a group of frontier outcasts, including a brash young settler named Palmer. But in the wilds of this savage land, love is not so easily tamed, and John soon finds himself calling upon the raging animal within him to save the man he loves.
Man & Beast, which The Advocate calls “equal parts romance novel and history lesson, heaped with sex and violence,” is the first book in the Savage Lands, a series that celebrates the untold gay history of the American frontier. Man & Beast is for fans of Harper Fox, Jerry Cole, K.J. Charles, and Mary Renault, as well as anyone who enjoys pulse-pounding suspense and romance.
(Man & Beast was previously published under the title Frontiers. This edition has been extensively revised.)
Review: John Chapman, at the age of twenty-four, has to go on the run. He’s been having an affair with Colin, a major in the British Army, and their secret has been found out. John has a chance to start a new life with a claim for land in Warren, so he begs the major to go with him, but in their haste to escape, Colin is killed. John becomes lost, exhausted and hungry, and then comes face-to-face with a man named Daniel McQuay. John has no choice but to stay with Daniel and regain his strength as well as avoiding the hardships of the weather. As time goes on, John finds himself and Daniel in strange situations. Daniel also tells John tales about Abe, Martin and Zach, the previous men who were supposed to help at the claims station. When the situation between John and Daniel gets too eerie, John flees from the frightening dilemma.
John has only wanted to have his own claim and a place that he can be by himself. As he has made his escape, he once again finds himself on his last leg when a strange Indian woman finds him and leads him to a cabin. John eventually realizes he has made it to his destination, Franklin, where he befriends some interesting people: Gwennie, the Apple Woman, smart and mystical; Thomas Martin, who has a sad story of his own; Samantha, with the story of a sad love affair; and Palmer, a young man who makes John crave what he’s been trying to avoid. Just when John feels this may be the place where he can have the life and companionship that he wants, an evil presence from his past comes to destroy him and his friends.
Man & Beast is a historical thriller that takes place in 1797 and ‘98. Author Michael Jensen has melded factual research with fiction to create an eerily shocking mystery. For the time period, there is much hardship, fear and bigotry, and people have to keep their secrets hidden. This was a first time read for me from this author, and I was totally entertained by the twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. This was an excellent read. I’ll give fair warning, though; there is violence in the story, and it does get gruesome.
There’s also a sneak peek at book two, Man & Monster, at the end, and I hate that I read it. I want more! So I will definitely be looking for the second book in the Savage Land series, coming in January 2017.
You can buy Man & Beast here: