Vagabond Heart, by A.J. Llewellyn
A fascinating step back in time to war-time Hawaii
Tinder McCartney is the only gay male prostitute working in Honolulu, HI during World War II. Like the 200 female prostitutes who live and work on Hotel Street, he services the armed forces drifting in and out of the islands. His life and work are controlled by the local police, yet because the cops don’t think that there can be that many ‘depraved’ men wanting the comfort of another man, Tinder is not only busy, but often in danger.
Living by very strict rules enforced by the police, Tinder cannot own or drive a car or bicycle, can’t ride street cars or be seen in the company of other men. He can’t visit bars or restaurants or swim at Waikiki Beach. Savagely attacked by two men one night, he is rescued by a local businessman, Jason Qui, the son of a Chinese immigrant and a former New England missionary.
Jason is not Tinder’s usual type. But Jason offers to protect and house him. It seems like the ideal business arrangement until Tinder’s Vagabond Heart can no longer handle the arrangement… and then on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbour is attacked, turning the entire world upside down.
Available in e-book format from Total E-Bound Publishers, and in Kindle format.
About the author: A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep him refueled.
A.J’s passion for the islands led to him writing a play about the last ruling monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani. He has written a non-erotic novel about the overthrow of her kingdom written in diary form from her maid’s point of view.
He never lacks inspiration for his male/male erotic romances and has to pry his fingers from the computer keyboard to pursue his other passions: collecting books on Hawaii, surfing and spending time with his friends and his animal companions.
A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.
Review by Gerry Burnie
Although A.J. Llewellyn has over fifty novels out there, Vagabond Heart [Total E-Bound Publishing, 2010] is the first I have read. It certainly won’t be the last, however.
The plot is somewhat unique, inasmuch as it deals with a male prostitute as a romantic lead. Moreover, the story is set in 1942 Hawaii, just before the Pearl Harbour invasion—an era that is particularly nostalgic for me—and this is where AJ shines.
His bio states his passion for Hawaii, and it certainly comes through in his almost palpable descriptions of Hawaii’s history, culture, beauty and grottiness of Hotel Street. Indeed, it is some of the finest descriptive writing I have encountered to date.
And speaking of “history,” special mention should be reserved for the fascinating history of prostitution in war-time Honolulu—in particular the (US) government’s sanction of it (within certain, ridiculous constraints). In this regard, the hypocrisy of government is almost as palpable of Mr. Llewellyn’s excellent descriptions.
The characters are all well developed and interesting as well. Tinder is very much a boy of the 1930s and 40s; meaning, when he found himself up against it he simply found a way to cope. I know the trait, because the 1940s was my era as well.
The girls’ lives could have been a little more developed, but since they were only minor characters this is a value judgment at best.
The native boy, Lauro is quite believable inasmuch as bisexuality seemed to be quite acceptable so long as marriage—as in “one man and one woman”—took place down the line.
Jason Qui came across as just a bit too ideal, and I thought the scenes with him were somewhat ‘pat,’ but once again that is a value judgement that may or may not be shared with other readers. Likewise, I found the sex scenes—while not overwhelming—a bit repetitive toward the end.
Overall, however, it is a well written novel, with an interesting topic and plot, and encompassing an intriguing era. Highly recommended. Four and one-half stars.
The completed manuscript of Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky is presently being proofed by my good buddy, Jim Fraley, who is making good progress. Therefore, it should go the publisher by the 26th of this month.
Interestingly, it is partially set in the 1950s and deals with male prostitution as well—i.e.
Sheldon Cartwright is a young, exceptionally handsome and gifted politician, with a beautiful wife and two charming children. His career is also in ascendance, and given all this the sky seems the only limit to this talented, blue-eyed lad from small-town Ontario, Canada.
However, Cartwright also has a hidden past that one day bursts onto the front page of a tabloid newspaper with the publication of his nude photograph. Moreover, the inside story alleges that he was once a high-end male prostitute with a romantic connection to an ex-con, whose body has been recently found mutilated beyond recognition in a burned-out apartment.
Enter a homophobic cop who is willing to go to any lengths to tie Cartwright into the crime simply because he is young, handsome and well-educated, and the stage is set for a political crisis of headline-grabbing proportions. Read an excerpt:
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