Thursday, April 9, 2009

Transgressions

Transgressions: A M/M Romance, by Erastes
$10.15 in the Hansisgreat Gift Shop
ISBN: 0762435739
A naughty tale of adolescent lust and passion.
Gay romance novels are usually not at the top of the literary food chain, which is why I was somewhat surprised by how good this book was. It's beautifully constructed: rich with longing and unrequited love, just like any "traditional" romance novel, but with more action and sexuality to keep an audience of gay men interested.
It takes place in England during the first years of the British Civil War, beginning in 1642. David Caverly is a teenage boy who lives on his pious, hardworking father's farm. Life is serious, with little time for anything besides toil and prayer.
One day, however, David's father brings home an apprentice named Jonathan to work in his blacksmith shop. Jonathan is a hunky Puritan boy who will be working on the family farm and sleeping in David's room. Like brothers. Delicious.
Soon the two young men start fooling around, and even fall in love. In 1642 , so naturally homosexuality is considered a sin and capital crime, as is unfortunately still the case today in many places. The two lovers have to keep their relationship very discreet, or face terrible consequences.
Transgressions doesn't fixate on the injustices of homophobia, however. It's a romance novel.
A local young woman feels jealous because David isn't attracted to her, and publicly accuses him of getting her pregnant. The lie is widely believed, and David is forced to leave town in disgrace. He becomes a soldier in the Royal Army, defending King Charles. Jonathan misses his departed boyfriend, and leaves his indenture at the blacksmith shop to try to find him, leading him on adventures of his own.
I enjoyed the story well enough, and the development of David and Jonathan's characters was outstanding. Their names honor two biblical characters, which creates a delightful subtext throughout the book. It is this attention to elegance and detail that makes the book romantic and not merely sexual.
Although there is a considerable amount of sex. Erastes has won awards for her erotic writing, and I can understand why. This book masters the art of long, slow build up. When the young men spend their first night as bunk mates, they're very embarassed but curious about one another's bodies. Jonathan, the Puritan, actually stands facing the corner while David gets undressed, too prudish to even look at another man's naked body. This doesn't last long: they start by innocently wrestling and skinny dipping, and their relationship develops for several chapters before they have real sex. It's a terrific build up, and I don't mind telling you I had a hard on the entire time.
Of course, Transgressions is not for everyone. Straight guys would find it of absolutely no interest, in spite of the good war scenes. It's obviously intended for gay men, but the author is a woman and other women might enjoy it. Readers of typical, heterosexual romance novels could find it a giddy thrill. Gay fiction, especially gay erotica, is usually pretty terrible. I'm pleased to say this book was a most lovely exception.

3 comments:

Erastes said...

Thank you, Hans! I found this by accident, but will link to it for my other readers.

I haven't won any awards, though - sadly...

:(

Thanks again!

Hansisgreat said...

No awards? I thought the author bio said something about awards. My mistake, but you win an award from me. Outstanding book, you sweetie!
Keep up the good work, and thanks for visiting Hansisgreat. I always love to hear from authors whose books I review.

Cuba2008 said...

HI sorry if I sound picky, but it was the English Civil War not British. The three Kingdoms hadn't formally united at that stage, it wasn't until 1707 that Scotland and England became one with one Parliament. Although this war devastated the entire British Isles, and put son against father and led to a Puritan State.