“When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it.” ― Haruki Murakami
Author: Eva Vicci
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 74
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: Eighteen–year-old Jonathan Moore works as a garden hand on a lord’s estate in Victorian England. On a festive servants’ day off, he visits the Christmas fair, hoping to fulfill his childhood dream of riding the carousel. The trip turns out unexpectedly when he catches the eye of impudent footman Francis Johnson. Despite Jonathan’s reservations, the flirtatious Francis doesn’t give up, and after some hesitation, they share a ride on the glittering carousel. Before they say good-bye, Francis asks to meet again, and with a quickening heartbeat, Jonathan agrees.
Rarely having a day off from their duties, their yearning for one another cannot be quenched, while Jonathan’s fear of heartbreak makes him uncertain whether Francis is the right man for him. Meanwhile, Francis does everything in his power to make a next date happen. Will Jonathan’s naïve heart give in to the temptation of the seductive footman?
Review: One of the many things I love about historical romance is the sense of being transported by the details and descriptions and the language the author uses to take the reader to the place in which their characters exist. When an author researches and embraces the language of the time period of the story’s setting, it becomes all the more real in the imagination, and all the more satisfying in the process.
One of the few pitfalls of loving the historical genre obsessively is devouring so many books that it’s given me a lot of years to develop a huge bit of snobbery for the medium, something I own completely and admit to making me perhaps a bit hypercritical of the books I read in the genre. The Carousel is a book that didn’t quite hit the mark for me in terms of the time or place, written in a language that I felt didn’t necessarily always complement its Victorian England setting, making it a story that could just as easily have taken place anywhere and in a more modern time period, if not for the horse drawn carriages.
The relationship between Jonathan Moore and Francis Johnson, two young men who each serve in different capacities on different estates, is sweetly presented, though is a romance that’s not developed on the page for the reader to delve into. Rather, it relies more on the imagination of and a good deal of trust from the reader that they belong together simply because the author tells us to believe it. Their romance doesn’t begin as a love-at-first-sight trope, which is a nice change of pace, and it quickly becomes even further complicated owing to both distance and the archaic superstitions of a fellow servant who’s filled Jonathan’s head with all sorts of ideas about everything from riding carousels to sexual encounters between men, causing Jonathan to panic and pull away when Francis makes his intentions known.
The problem for me, in these two men not connecting early, is that the length of the novella didn’t give me the chance to fully engage in their romance because they spent so much of it apart, ending this story as one that’s perfectly pleasant but fell a bit too short on attention to expression and detail, as well as relationship development, to make it wholeheartedly recommendable from my point of view.