Casa Rodrigo, by Johnny Miles
Publisher’s blurb: On a lush, tropical island inhabited by rogues, thieves and villains, where men take the law into their own hands, a father and son are thrust into tumultuous events that will change their lives forever.
Bernardo de Rodrigo is proud of his son. Alonso is handsome and winning, and everyone he meets is instantly drawn to the tall, warm Spaniard. But how could either of them have known that a forbidden love is about to claim Alonso’s heart?
Arbol, the charismatic male slave who was saved from the clutches of Raul Ignacio Martín, feels an instant connection with Alonso, the moment he looks into Arbol’s eyes, the moment they touch.
Bernardo has other things to worry about, however. He’s trying to exorcise himself of an intensely gratifying yet shame-filled sexual affair with Raul, who secretly adores Bernardo but doesn’t know how to show it.
When Raul blackmails Bernardo, their dark and sordid relationship not only threatens the bond between father and son, it places Arbol’s life in danger. Now Bernardo must make a difficult choice that could further alienate his son while Alonso must find a way to keep the man he loves.
Front cover art: Anne Cain. Front cover design: April Martinez
Review by Gerry Burnie
The above blurb is accompanied by the caveat: “This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Dubious consent, male/male sexual practices.” Usually I shy away from stories of this nature, not because they offend my sensibilities, but because they are so woefully short of any plot worth mentioning.
While the plot in Casa Rodrigo by Johnny Miles [Loose Id, LCC, 2010] is not its strong point, it is a credible storyline and an effective balance for the abundance of “explicit sexual content.” Indeed, it has some quite original scenes—such as the opening where the runaway slave vainly tries to save herself and her newly born child, Arbol. It is also a dramatic way of introducing the main characters in the roles they will play throughout the remainder of the story.
The genre, apart from being homoerotic, is a period story. I have seen it described as ‘historical fiction,’ but since it lacks any real historical content I have difficulty in reconciling that description. However, its treatment of slavery seems quite credible to someone who is no authority on the subject. Slavery was certainly inhumane and cruel, and I think Miles has done of effective job of bringing those aspects to the fore.
The characters, Bernardo do Rodrigo, his wife Adelina, the main character Alonso, the slave Arbol, and the villainous Raul Ignacio, are all reasonably well-developed and distinct. However, I had some difficulty identifying with any of them. Bernardo came across as a pathetic, self-serving weakling, and his long-suffering wife, Adelina, seens to be the author of her own misfortune; Alonso, while loving enough, was altogether to wimpy to be a true hero figure, and Arbol was too articulate and cultured for a slave. Finally, although consistent. Raul Ignacio’s character was a bit over-the-top with his villainy.
Nevertheless, Casa Rodrigo is a fun read. The sort of story by which you can cheer the good guys and hiss the villain. Three-and-one-half stars.
See what others have to say about Coming of Age on the Trail (Coming Soon).