Gerry B's Book Reviews

Shining in the Sun, by Alex Beecroft

 

 

A superbly written coming-out story with some very clever, unique and original differences.

Story blurb: Damn it, a man shouldn’t always have to be afraid…

Alec Goodchilde has everything a man could want—except the freedom to be himself. Once a year, he motors down to an exclusive yacht club on the Cornish coast and takes the summer off from the trap that is his life.

When his car breaks down, leaving him stranded on the beach, he’s transfixed by the sight of a surfer dancing on the waves. The man is summer made flesh. Freedom wrapped up in one lithe package, dripping wet from the sea.

Once a year, Darren Stokes takes a break from his life of grinding overwork and appalling relatives, financing his holiday by picking up the first rich man to show an interest. This year, though, he’s cautious—last summer’s meal ticket turned out to be more pain than pleasure.

Even though Alec is so deep in the closet he doesn’t even admit he’s gay, Darren finds himself falling hard—until their idyllic night together is shattered by the blinding light of reality.

 About the author: Alex Beecroft was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the Peak District. Alex studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where she worked for a number of years. Now a stay-at-home mum and full time author, Alex lives with her husband and two daughters in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has lead a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800 year old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I love stories about British, upper middle-class characters. For one thing, they have a style that is both charmingly stodgy and dauntless at the same time. Never mind that that temerity is born out of a seemingly artless smugness because therein lies their charm. That said, author Alex Beecroft has captured this artlessness to perfection in her latest, 14-carat nugget, Shining in the Sun [Samhain Publishing, May 3, 2011]. Moreover, she has cleverly contrasted it against an artful beach-bum and petty hustler, so right there you know this is going to be a good read.

Ptolemy Alexander St. John-Goodchilde [you have to love that name] is the young bourgeois: very wealthy, very shy, and saddled with an over protective, domineering mother, and a devoted fiancé. Like every young entrepreneur, however, Alec (his preferred name) likes to get away from his family and the old stock portfolio to spend a month on his yacht, typically named The Lady Jane—a good, solid middle-class name.

Fate had other ideas, however, for when his expensive auto, a Morgan Roadsters, breaks down in a small seaside village he is unexpectedly encountered by a copper-haired surfer god, who—in Alec’s eyes—emerges from the sea like the male version of The Birth of Venus.

Darren is the product of a neglected childhood, abandoned by his father and raised by his grandmother, and as she is now ailing he is taking care of her. To make ends meet, so to speak, he sells his body to rich men with the justification that this is a reciprocal-type of love; they want his body and he wants their financial support.

I must mention here, as well, that Alec’s “chat-up” with Darren, on their first encounter, is one of the most original seduction scenes I have ever read. Alec is so painfully shy and inexperienced, and so unconsciously turned-on by this Coppertone Adonis, that he is pathetically charming about it—so much so that you want to hug him and say, “Just do your thing, baby”—which is what the author intended, I’m sure.

Which segues me into my next point. This is writing at a very sophisticated level. Fundamentally it reads effortlessly, the descriptions are evocative with a creative twist, and both the story line and pace flow along quite nicely. However what really stands out, without being obvious, is the control that makes it a clever story—as apposed to being clichéic; which, with this sort of a scenario could have been. Rather, the characters are complex because of their simplicity, as is the story line, and a happy ending seems only right to cap it off.

This is a superbly written coming-out story with some very clever, unique and original differences. Highly recommended. Five stars.

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Read an excerpt from Nor All Thy Tears by Gerry Burnie, scheduled for release in hardcopy and e-book formats, July 2011.

A bittersweet story of love, obsession, treachery, murder, and finally solace under the northern lights of big sky country, Saskatchewan.Sheldon Cartwright is a young, handsome and gifted politician with a beautiful wife and two charming children. His career in ascendance as well, and given all this the sky seems the only limit to this talented, blue-eyed lad from rural Ontario.

However, Cartwright also has a hidden past that one day bursts onto the front page of a tabloid newspaper with the display of his nude photograph. Moreover, the inside story alleges that he was once a high-end, male prostitute with a male lover—a hulking and psychopathically obsessive killer—who has recently been declared murdered when a body is found in his burned-out apartment.

Enter a homophobic cop who is willing to go to any lengths to tie Cartwright into the crime, and the stage is set for a political downfall in spite of Cartwright’s valiant efforts to salvage it.

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April 24, 2011 - Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance

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