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What most surprised me of this historical romance was the “unromantic” perception of the main characters, and bear in mind I’m saying it in a positive way and I will explain why: this is a western romance set in 1864 in the then wild territory of Montana; while one of the men had the chance to live in the city, the other grew up in a sheep ranch where he still is and probably will ever be, and has never once left his home. Red knows he is an inverted, he has always known, but to him, that means he loves sex with men; at the time it was already difficult for a man to understand what love means towards a woman, most of the time marriage was a convenience and completed with the first available woman, loves towards a man is not a possible concept. On the other side Henry was raised by missionary parents, he knows he doesn’t want to marry a woman, but again, the concept of a family with another man is not something he is considering. So no, there aren’t romantic feelings between Red and Henry, and till the end, love is something that maybe is becoming tangible between them, in their own way to approach it, but it’s not what drives them together. Sex, passion, that is the protruding force, and what they both understand, being experienced like Red or naïve like Henry. I found this approach believable and very much in line with the time.

And now, the second “unromantic” element: Red and Henry are not exclusive. Actually Henry is, more or less, but basically cause he hasn’t the same sexual drive as Red, while on the other side, Red is willing to renounce to have sex with other men, but only if Henry is able to fulfill his needs, and Henry isn’t. Again, not a romantic concept, but probably a very true approach to the matter.

Is it believable that not only two men like Red and Henry meet and fall in love, but also that they are living in a place where Red is able to go and find willing recreational partners? I think so, cause, it’s pretty much similar to what happened in real life with George Merrill and Edward Carpenter: this is one of my favorite real life romances, Carpenter, English socialist poet, philosopher, anthologist, and early gay activist met and fall in love for Merrill, a working class man. It was England, not Montana, but again it was the meeting of two very different souls, who mated for life, 37 years, and the two died little more than one year apart from each other. That was love, not question, but historic records attest Merrill and Carpenter weren’t sexually exclusive; nevertheless, no one is possibly questioning their love for each other.

Publisher: Manifold Press (September 27, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Montana Red



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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
kishenehn
Dec. 27th, 2013 04:19 am (UTC)
Since I live in Montana, I guess I'd better look for this one! :)
elisa_rolle
Dec. 27th, 2013 09:00 am (UTC)
not sure if the small town is real, but they said there was a bigger city near there, Butte.
kishenehn
Dec. 27th, 2013 01:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, there's still a city named Butte not far from me, and 1984 was a year when many men came to the state looking for gold and silver mines that might possibly make them rich. It would be a great setting for a GLBT story.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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