Summer Devon, Bonnie Dee – The Gentleman’s Madness

gentleman

 

Author: Bonnie Dee
Reviewed by: 
Nancy
Publisher:
Samhain Publishing
Genre: 
M/M Historical Romance
ISBN 13:
9781619220157

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Summary:  “An imprisoned heart finds escape in forbidden love.”

No pride. No privacy. No hope.

Academic John Gilliam thought being caught embracing another man was the worst that could happen. Until he agrees to “treatment” at an asylum, where a vicious attack leaves him shaken and afraid.

But having all means of writing or reading taken from him… “That” is a serious threat to his sanity. Then a moment of kindness from an asylum attendant begins to restore his dignity.

Sam Tully feels sorry for the patient everyone calls “the professor,” but with a back injury that cost him his job on the docks-and without the education that would have bettered his position-he tries to keep his head down, and a tight lid on his attraction to men.

As John prays for freedom, he grows closer to the gentle, innately intelligent Tully. In spite of themselves, forbidden attraction leads to touches, kisses, and more. But there’s something other than curative treatments going on at the asylum. When John and Tully uncover a heinous conspiracy, their very lives are in danger.

Warning: Contains heinous crimes and frightening treatments-oh, and some sweet and loving sexy times between two healthy, not-crazy men.

Review:  Is that man a vampire?  Does that manic gleam in his eyes mean he is about to feed?  The blurb didn’t indicate there were vampires in this story, so I promptly put the cover picture out of my mind.  I do love the title, however, and was thrilled to get the opportunity to read this historical romance set in London in 1887.

John Gilliam is a learned professor.  He is also homosexual and damned lucky “buggery” was no longer punishable by death.  It was however, still illegal.  John was unfortunate to be caught with another man during a surprise visit by his father and a few friends and willingly submitted to treatment at a mental institution.  Because John comes from a wealthy family, his living conditions are not nearly as bad as others.  But he still had to endure isolation, humiliation and crude treatments such as hydrotherapy and twirling chairs which were of no help to mentally ill patients.  During his incarceration, he meets Sam Tully, a kindly attendant who suffers from the same “perversion” that John does.

What is really scary is these crude and dangerous treatments lasted right up until the 1970’s.

http://www.davidmixner.com/2010/07/lgbt-history-the-decade-of-lobotomies-castration-and-institutions.html

I have some mixed feelings about this story.  While I loved the slow burn of John’s and Sam’s relationship, their very different backgrounds, and the authentic historical details, I wish there were more vivid descriptions of the patients and their treatments.  I am very interested in the history of mental health and wish that this story spent more time on the important subjects it touched on in a superficial way.  Because of Tully, I never really felt that John was in any danger, and that eliminated a lot of tension from the story.

It was still a compelling and leisurely read, and I’m glad both men got their happy ending.  While not a perfect story, I enjoyed it sufficiently and plan to try another by these authors.

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