Author: Christina Pilz
Publisher: Blue Rain Press
Summary: After escaping Axminster workhouse, Oliver and Jack go to Hale to meet Jack’s parents and sister. They then travel to Chertsey to visit Oliver’s Uncle Harry and Aunt Rose. But family is not always what it seems, and the quest for connection can sometimes lead to disappointment.
Exploring taverns and river bends along the way, both young men are driven by the idea of what a family is. Oliver wants to find a home, both for himself and Jack, searching for the security of a past he once knew. However, for Jack, Oliver is all the family he needs, and the here and now is all he has ever known.
When the pressures of propriety and familial obligations threaten to divide them, and when even the slightest act of affection between them could get them arrested, can their love endure?
Review: Yet again, I am utterly taken by the phenomenal writing and effort Ms. Pilz has invested in this series. The nuanced language and descriptions paint a panorama of England and Victorian culture, with Jack and Oliver at the center. I want to go read some Dickens, just to gauge that the style and cadence of his writing is echoed as expertly by Christina Pilz as I feel it is. While still having its share of angst, this installment is far less bleak than the previous book. The moments they spend alone in their travels were glorious. There is far more intimacy in this narrative, since their physical connection blossoms even as their emotional connection grows. The alternating POV’s, especially their internal thoughts, keep me fascinated and invested in seeing a successful conclusion for these two.
Oliver is still determined that they visit their respective families, especially Jack, separated from his so long ago. Once more, I’m struck by parallels to modern day attitudes, when Jack experiences judgment and prejudice based on nothing more than appearance and mode of speech. Then near disaster brings both men to a tipping point, when Oliver must choose what and who, is most important to him. The way Jack and Oliver’s characterizations are unfolding, gaining depth and maturity, the more I anticipate the rest of this series. This is one of the best historical series I’ve read in a long time. If you have a taste for historical fiction, I strongly encourage you to give this series a try.