Tamara Allen always amazes me, but I should not be surprised. In particular this time I enjoyed very much this turn of the nineteen century New York City gay romance since I was still fresh from my reading of the essay Gay Metropolis, and it was really fascinating to read a romanced version of the real life stories I read in that essay.
Even more it was nice since the men in this novel are ordinary guys, living in a city that is not yet metropolis, Manhattan of 1888, but still a city in comparison to the place where one of them, Jonah, was born and raised. Jonah came to the city he now calls home with a secret, a secret that he has taken hidden from everyone; more than 14 years later, he has built a comfortable life for himself as an assistant cashier to a privately owned bank institution. Someone of you will think what a boring job for a romance hero, but trust me, it’s not like that. Reading about Jonah’s life, so common for the bachelors of the time, boarding a room in a respectable house managed by two spinster sisters, eating “dinner” (at 12.00 a.m.!) in the café in front of the office and going back home by foot or cab (I suppose it was an horse trained cab…) was like living his life. The small details of this ordinary life were perfect and just enough to give you the feeling of the time without boring you.
And the perfectness of the setting was balanced with a good pace in the story; maybe some reader will complain that Jonah and Reid spent too much time waltzing around each other before arriving to admit their respective feelings, but I enjoyed so much the “dance”; having the two find each possible excuse to move from a professional to a personal level was so nice and endearing, and when finally they admit their feelings it was like the crowning of an old fashioned courtship. There is no sudden “revelation” of forbidden love, both Jonah than Reid are well aware of their sexual orientation, but of course, to respect time and conveniences, they cannot behave like any ordinary straight couple; but once they arrive to the apex of their dance, the love between them is passionate, and sexy, and very, very romantic. Tamara Allen allows us to see that despite the time and the law, the love doesn’t change, and more than 100 years ago, like today, when you are in love you are also a bit reckless.
I do no more question if such love was possible at that period, I had too many real life example to know that, even if not common, it was indeed possible for two men to fall in love and live happily ever after; sure there were constrictions, and most of their common life was spent inside the safe walls of their own home, but still they were able to be together.
Amazon: The Only Gold
Amazon Kindle: The Only Gold
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 21, 2011)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott
Cover Art by Lorraine Brevig