Author: Anel Viz
Genre: Historical Fiction / French Revolution / Ménage (Multiple Partners)
Length: Novel (292 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 14th, 2010)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5~4 Hearts
Blurb: “When I think of the things that happened and the things I did, it is as though I were living them … My hands feel what I touched, and the smells that surrounded me fill my nostrils … Old joys swell my heart, old sorrows clutch at my throat … I remember every face, every name, every street …”
So Gérard Vreilhac begins the story of his life from his boyhood as a gardener at the Château d’Airelles before the French Revolution through six decades of upheaval and social change to the eve of Napoleon III’s coup d’état. It is a story of heroism and devotion, of political intrigue, of the great battles fought in Napoleon’s conquest of Europe, and of unprecedented upward mobility. Most of all it is the story of the men he loved: Julien, the aristocrat; the jealous and possessive Laurent; his Egyptian houseboy, Akmoud; Anatole, a male prostitute… And every time he fell in love with a man, it was forever.
Review: Oh what a lovely book this one was. Set in France, late 19th century, this book takes you on a journey back in time when the French Revolution was born. But even as it takes you through the events that occurred and followed the Revolution, the Terror and the many men and women who were lost to the guillotine, even as it takes you along with Napoleon and his many battles, then back again to the restoration of monarchy, this book is so easy to read and so fun to do it despite to bloodshed and the ugliness. For me at least, this was quite a funny read as our main character is the luckiest Frenchman ever known.
Born a mere gardener’s son, Gerard’s best friend is Julien, a young aristocrat (the Counts son) who never once saw the distinction between them. Their friendship turns into adolescent exploration and young love, which the boys pursued with a passion. That love though was cut off short once the Revolution hits and the two young men get separated. Aristocrats left France to save themselves and those who didn’t lost their head, literally.
Our Gerard though, somehow, gets himself right at the beat of the Terror thanks to the summer lessons Julien gave him and his knowledge of letters. When Julien contacts Gerard and asks for help though, our hero finds himself shortly in trial himself for helping enemies of the Revolution. Mere luck wants him forgotten and avoiding the guillotine. With two more friends, he made in the prison Gerard sets for new adventures, and the military is what brings them on.
I have to admit that I kept on laughing throughout this read, though there was nothing really funny. It’s just that this character is so damn lucky. He gets promotion after promotion through mere luck. He avoids getting killed because he was stabbed in Egypt and couldn’t go to battle. He makes a stupid decision and gets on a horse during a battle, only to find himself thrown on the ground and the horse on top of him. He saved his fellow soldiers and gets to become a colonel, even as he has no idea or training. He only managed not to screw up, because he got shot the moment he was on a horse from then on. It is a series of events that while horrible, they save his life and get him out of a worse fate.
All through the read, we see him fall in love with men in different phases of his life. Every one of them is unique and every one of them had me shake my head. But they all seemed so real, the romance is not quite romance, more like this is what life is and the character just went with it. I can’t say that there was any real intensity there to blow your mind, except perhaps when Julien comes back twenty-five years later. While all the intimate scenes were erotic and managed to get you all hot and bothered, the part when Julien comes back only to leave again must be the only one to have deeply awoken strong feelings from me. That was sad, so very sad for both of them.
All in all, I liked this book very much. The writing was great and made for an easy read, the characters were engaging, all of them, and the story was enticing, at least if you like historical reads. This is definitely a book I don’t hesitate to recommend to fans of the genre.