Author: Roger M. Kean
Length: Novel (379 Pages)
Genre: Historical Romance (1897)
Publisher: Reckless Books (July 17th, 2013)
Heat Rating: Low
Heart Level: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts
Blurb: A heavy burden rides the shoulders of young Gregory Hilliard—to discover the fate of a father he never knew. Did the elder Hilliard die with Hicks Pasha’s army at El Obeid in 1883 or, as his mother fervently hopes, did he somehow escape the massacre there by the fanatic Mahdist Dervishes?
And then there is the puzzle of his real name. Is he who he thinks he is? Born and raised in Cairo, fluent in native languages, Gregory is pitched into the heat of war after his mother dies. The teenager makes his way by joining General Kitchener’s Nile campaign to retake the Sudan from the Khalifa’s Mahdist armies. In doing so, Gregory hopes to find out what happened to his father. Two spies—Edward and Richard Rainbow—help in his quest, brothers with their own dark secret. But his greatest support comes from the Ja’alin Zaki, the love of his young life, his friend, and soul mate.
In a world that refuses to recognize the right of young men to love and in an era that looks down on the “inferior” natives, Gregory faces his most difficult battle for personal happiness. Success will bring him and Zaki fulfillment but also unravel a tragic and at the same time life-enhancing mystery with its roots in far away England… and in the solving of it, one which might yet rip the two lovers apart.
Review: While this story stands alone as a novel, the events are greatly enriched by having read “A Life Apart,” which features Edward and Richard Rainbow, who appear as Gregory’s companions. I will admit that this story is hard to follow, but it also fascinates me.
Gregory lost his father at a very early age, but never truly learned what happened to him. When his mother passes away, she had asked him to make something of himself before learning about his father’s family. He is of English ancestry but born and raised in Cairo. He decides to join the military to help free his birth country. Having grown up with Zaki, he doesn’t want to leave him behind. At sixteen, he seems more grown up than most teens of today. He also knows that he loves Zaki and wants to be with him for the rest of his life.
Now in the 1800’s you can understand the dangers that face them if it should ever get out that they are lovers. By him being very fluent in many of the native languages, he can be an interpreter for his country and England. Jaki has loved Gregory since they were children and now loves him even more. He will do anything to stay with his true heart. They both have such strong will and the strength that would amaze even the hardest Generals. They however have compassion, gentleness and care for their people and others. The sex is pretty hot once you get past the fact that they are so young. Gregory is amazing in the war and finds himself promoted pretty fast. All though many can understand the reason for fighting in a war, Gregory has another agenda he wants to fulfill and that is to find out what happened to his father. He also learns about who he truly is, and what it means to belong to a family of prestige and honor. He finds the answers to the questions he had during the journey of his life. Jaki and Gregory’s love for each other gets stronger each day but they still have the fears that follow all young men who love each other.
I love the way Roger mixed the diary of Gregory’s father in to the story, but it did make it a little harder to follow the story itself, but once you get to the end you catch on pretty easy. I also loved how he managed to mix the war itself with the way Jaki and Gregory loved each other. I enjoyed the way they found each other sexually. It starts off slow like teens just finding themselves to the heat of adults. Even knowing the dangers of being caught they still loved each other deeply. All in total, this story was told with such a flare that amazed me. This story comes off as so real to me, it is like you are right there along with them through their ups and downs. To be so young and to decide this life at such a time of war is probably one of the most heroic things about this book. I loved the strength each character has for what needs to be done during the war and to be faithful to each other. I can actually see myself sitting down and reading it again. It will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.