Gerry B's Book Reviews

The Wishing Cup, by JM Gryffyn

Romance among the dunes!

Orphaned as a boy and brought up by the crusty, disapproving Edward Collins, Dr. David Jameson may not know much about love, but he makes up for it with an encyclopedic knowledge of Egyptian history and language. Too bad his job as linguist for a team excavating in the Valley of the Kings puts him right under Edward’s nose. When the discovery of a rare artifact leads to a disagreement between guardian and ward, Jeremiah McKee, the team’s American benefactor, sends no-nonsense Jake Tanner to protect his investment.

David’s disappointment at not meeting McKee fades quickly in the heat of his intense desire for Tanner, who seems to be the only member of the team to give credence to his ideas. Push comes to shove when Edward discovers the burgeoning romance between David and Jake, but not everything is as it seems. Will David and Jake find more in Egypt than sand and strife? Something that, like the pyramids at Giza, will stand the test of time?

Front cover designby Mara McKennen

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

Although not particularly original, The Wishing Cup, by JM Gryffyn is a charming tale set in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt; a romantic setting for a romantic novella. In this respect, it parallels the exploits of Howard Carter and his monumental discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922, and I also recognized several almost direct extracts from Carter’s journal.  However, as the author has been careful to point out (correctly so), this is not intended to be accurate history, i.e., in the words of the author: “An astute reader of this novella will quickly recognize that facts about pharaohs, queens and expeditions (among other things) in The Valley of The Kings were wilfully and  knowingly manipulated.” Fair enough.

The story is told using a combination of first-person journal entries by the ingénue, Dr. David Jameson, and third-person narratives. As the story opens the expeditions has just made a discovery of a wishing cup (along with other funery items) in the tomb of Pharaoh Sherentah, but the cup bears the markings of his wife, Queen Sif-re. This cup, and certain cartouches  bearing her name, lead David to speculate that the tomb may be that of Sif-re; a theory that is contrary to popular wisdom of the day that there are no queens buried in the Valley of the Kings. It also makes him the butt of derision by his guardian and the other authorities who make up the expedition.

The expedition is being financed by a wealthy American recluse by the name of Jeremiah McKee—a sort of Lord Carnarvon—and when the sealed entranceway to a tomb is discovered he is sent for to be present at the opening. Instead, an emissary named Jake Tanner arrives in his place.

Disappointment abounds, including that of David’s, but as time goes by he develops a fascination and eventually a desire for this rugged American. The others in the expedition are not so keen, however, for Jake Tanner is not easily brushed aside, and he quickly proves to be the equal of Edward Collins. Things come to a head between Tanner and Collins when Collins discovers David kissing Jake, and David ends up with a black eye on account of it.

The stage is therefore set for a showdown and a happy resolution, but I’ll leave the readers to discover how.

The writing is well executed throughout, and the storymoves along at a steady but comfortable pace. The plot is simple but interesting, and there is a mild level of tension—especially regarding the opening of the tomb. However, I found the relationship between Jake Tanner and Jeremiah Mckee a bit hokey. Also the ending, although gratifying, was somewhat predictable. However, these reservations did  not overshadow what was a nice, feel-good story. I love a romance! Four stars.

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Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 11,168

 Two Irish Lads is currently being considered for a motion picture version. Preliminary discussions are set for this month.

Two Irish Lads is a pioneer story with a difference.

It is at once a carefully-researched depiction of pioneer life in the early part of the nineteenth century, and also a love story of two men who might have lived during such a challenging time.

Sean and Patrick McConaghy are two young cousins who set sail from Ireland one St. Patrick’s Day in 1820, and after a long and eventful crossing of the Atlantic, they tackle the mighty St. Lawrence River with a band of rugged voyageurs to eventually settle in the wilderness of Upper Canada.

Here they are not only confronted by the daunting task of carving a homestead out of the vast primeval forest, but also the ever-present danger of living as a devoted couple in a world where the possibility of humiliation and death stalked them at every turn if their secret should ever be discovered.

It is a tale that also encompasses mystery, tragedy, brawling, humour and pathos, and altogether it will have you turning pages to discover what is about to happen next.

June 5, 2011 - Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period

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