Gerry B's Book Reviews

Muffled Drum, by Erastes

A Romantic novel featuring handsome cavalry officers, and Erestian touches

Blurb: They met in a port-side tavern, their lust-filled moments stolen from days of marching and madness. After eighteen months, Captain Rudolph von Ratzlaff and First Lieutenant Mathias Hofmann have decided to run away from everything they hold dear. Resigning their commissions is social suicide, but there’s no other
choice. Someone will eventually see Rudolph’s partiality toward Mathias.

Now their plans have gone horribly awry… When Mathias goes to Rudolph’s tent after their last battle, his lover looks at him without a hint of recognition. Mathias can hardly believe the man he knew is gone. He wants to fill in so many of Rudolph’s missing memories, but the doctor says a shock could result in permanent damage. The pain of seeing Rudolph on a daily basis, when Rudolph doesn’t remember their love, is excruciating. Now Mathias must decide whether he wants to fight for the man he loves or forget him completely…

Available in eBook format.

About the author: Erastes is the pen name of a female author of gay historical fiction. Having circumnavigated the globe in the ’80s with nothing more than a handful of dollars and a backpack, she’s lived and worked both sides of the equator, but other than Venice she’s found nowhere she loves to live as well as the Norfolk
Broads, where she lives now—firmly under the paw of three demanding cats. Author of eight novels and more than twenty short stories, Erastes is a Lambda
award finalist and a keen lover of history. She began writing full-time after leaving the legal profession, finding it stranger than any fiction.

Review by Gerry Burnie

Having written over ten successful novels to date, it seems author Erastes has decided to challenge herself with a devilishly complex theme, i.e. loss of memory, which is what Muffled Drum [Carina Press, July 4, 2011] centres around. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, she has also chosen an obscure but bloody war, The Austro-Prussian War— 14 June – 23 August, 1866.

Although I have in  my possession a sabre/bayonet from this very era, inscribed “Cavalry de La Chat, 1867,” it is a not a war I am familiar with; nor is it a period that has been frequently exploited as a background or setting for novels

In this story, Captain Rudolph von Ratzlaff and First lieutenant Mathias Hoffman, two young, handsome, army officers, have decided to resign their commissions and run away together. However, there is one more battle to fight, and following that Hoffman follows through with his resignation, but von Ratzlaff has sustained an injury that has left him with “selective” amnesia—meaning he can remember everything except the past two years and his lover Hoffman.

As is Eraste’s wont, there are delicate touches of irony sprinkled throughout that remain on the palate until the story is finished, i.e.

The scent of sweat and horse rose up in the heat they generated. Concentrating on the unique taste and feel of Mathias’s mouth, Rudolph swore to
remember this moment throughout the day to come.
When I’m cold from the death around me, or blazing with the thunder of the charge, I will remember this—this moment. It is this that men fight for—Mathias is my reason to fight, my haven. My home.”

Such was not to be, however, and also complicating the scenario is a Frau Ratzloff & family who are waiting at home, and a predatory ex-lover whom von Ratzlaff seems to be remember for all his non-predatory charms.

However, in the end love triumphs over adversity, and so the story ends in a typically romantic fashion.

***

Critically speaking I give full marks for the bold tackling of a complex issue, such as a lover, still very much in love, faced with the dilemma of his partner’s amnesia—especially since the former has gambled his all for a “happy ever after” relationship.

The choice of such an interesting, but little remembered war, was also a bold but typical Erastian venture, and her attention to detail—i.e., “leutnant” for lieutenant,  and “rittmeister” for captain—add greatly to the credibility.

My one quibble (although it does not change the ranking) is that I did not find this story as compelling as some of her other novels. However, since these were five-star stories too, it is merely a matter of degree.

News

As a writer there are a couple of times that are particularly exciting. One of them is getting the block proof back from the publisher, as it begins to take shape, and the other is actually holding the finished product in your hand. Those are the two stages of Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky I’m awaiting just now, and so I’m right on schedule for a July release. Like most writers my books are my ‘babies’–gestation period and all–and the characters are the same. The Two Irish Lads, Sean and Partrick, are still ‘my boys’, and although Sheldon and Colin are quite different, they have a special place in my heart, too.

***

Meanwhile, I’m working every day on Coming of Age on the Trail–69/185 pages so far–so I predicting a release date of mid-September.

***

Vistor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 11,896

July 10, 2011 - Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Military history

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