elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Best Gay Debut Novel (3° place): Solemn Contract by Morgan Cheshire

In 1720 Connecticut was still consider a land of discoveries, and Jem, his sister and her husband landed there from England searching for a new start. For Jem, a school teacher, is not exactly what he would have imagined: to help his brother-in-law, he signed a 5 years Indenture contract as farm hand. This is probably the point that more reminded me the old historical romances I was used to read, the use of this incipit for a love story was pretty common, only that, most of the time, it was a young widow buying the contract and of course she was fated to fall in love with her farm hand, that, most of the time, was from a noble family, the bastard son of some aristocrat, or someone who was forced to leave England, but that, at the end, was able to regain his noble status.

Jem is, indeed, the third son of a landowner in England, but he has no means, and will never have. His only worth are his profession as teacher and unfortunately his good looks; unfortunately since, as soon as he enters in an Indenture contract, a wealthy landowner decides he wants Jem as boy-toy and he is willing to do everything to have him. Jem is pretty much naïve, he is not that he is against the idea of being an homosexual, he has never once considered that idea since, from what I gather, he has never once considered himself from a sexual perspective. Before his misadventure I had pretty much the impression that Jem was asexual, like if marrying or having sex were activities not for him. That is indeed not a wrong concept, school teachers at the time were at the same level of priests or doctors, high demanded valuable professional workers but without private life.

In his bad luck, Jem finds a good or two, like the first man to buy his contract, Dan, an old farmer who lost his son to an Indians attack and who sees Jem as a substitute son, and Will, the local smith, who doesn’t accept the wrong doing against Jem, but not since he is actually interested in Jem, but more on a principle basis. Will will help Jem, and in doing so, they will fall in love, but that was not the hidden agenda of Will, only an event.

In a way that is the main point of this romance, it could have been a 100% breeches rippers, Jem could have been the perfect sacrificial lamb, all innocence and big, teary eyes, and Will could have been a 100% romance hero, knight in shining armor and all, but the author decided to play more subdue tunes; the drama is there, the love story also, but it’s all more sedate, less on the face of everyone, and that is probably correct because, even if you are in love, and people can see it, in 1720 Connecticut, living as an openly gay couple was not possible.


Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
Tags: author: morgan cheshire, genre: historical, length: novel, rainbow awards 2011, review, theme: breeches rippers, theme: virgins

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