Major Valentine Strange and Master Aleister Grimshaw are apparently at the opposite, but right for this reason they click together in the right way. In dept up to his neck, and maybe more, Valentine Strange needs a bit of fortune, and the mission to retrieve the diadem of the Goddess Purya seems an easy one. Unwilling companion to Valentine is Aleister, trueblood and witch, apparently the wise man in comparison to Valentine and instead the one who will almost lose his mind.
The fantasy world Josh Lanyon recreates is completely visionary, but in a way has its roots in the real medieval times: Major Strange is in a mission for the church, Master Grimshaw’s previous lover is now a priest, the one who hires Valentine. Religion, myths and witchcraft mix together to move and control the known world.
Another familiar trait that links these characters with the previous ones from the same author is the apparently contraposition between “straight” Valentine and “gay” Aleister. Valentine is planning to marry, true, more for convenience than love, but I didn’t read him as a gay in the closet; until he meets Aleister and he develops feelings for him, Valentine is not gay; maybe he is not fully straight, and sincerely he questions his feelings for Aleister more since they are ruining his second option to gain money, than for a real moral opposition to them.
Maybe for this reason, or maybe since, sincerely, Josh Lanyon writes romance, and not erotica, the sex scenes are of the old fashioned style, the ones happening behind a closed door, and to only one, necessary to the story, the fulcrum of the romance, the reader is invited.
I read different opinion on this novel, and the most common trend was, this is an unusual novel for Josh Lanyon, something his fans could love or hate, but they have to read it with an open mind, since it’s different from the usual… I disagree. Aside from the fantasy genre, the only novelty I found, this is a typical story by Josh Lanyon: the characters are what holds the story; the romance is subdued but romantic; the relationship between the two men is “quietly” passionate, meaning that there are no burst of passion but nevertheless there is love; sometime the stronger man, Valentine, seems to be more the protector than the lover, but in the end it will be Aleister who will wrap up the story. So where is the unexpected in this story? What is that could ring wrong to the usual readers of Josh Lanyon? As I said, the fantasy setting.
The fantasy setting is good, I maybe am not a fan, but just only the fact that I read it is a point to it. What I usually don’t like of the fantasy genre are the long descriptions to allow the reader to “fall into” the mood, into the new world, but that is exactly what the fans of the genre love. As I said, I found it easier since some points were familiar, and indeed this is not only a fantasy but also a quest, and so the long descriptions allow the reader to follow the main characters in their quest; what the reader and the characters will learn along the travel is that the real quest is not what they were expecting to be and when they will reach their destination, they will discover that the travel is yet only at the beginning.
http://www.blindeyebooks.com/strange.html (print book)
Amazon: Strange Fortune
Amazon Kindle: Strange Fortune
Cover Art by Dawn Kimberling