elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Undercover Blues by Chris Quinton

Undercover Blues by Chris Quinton
Gay Historical Romance
Publisher: Manifold Press (November 1, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Undercover Blues

London, the 1930s: With the cooperation of a top-ranking scientist and his son, Tom Langton and Robert Darnley are sent in as bait for a gang that uses blackmail to steal industrial secrets at a time when Hitler’s rise to power in Germany threatens Europe. The two men are friends, but they each have secrets of their own – and both are well aware that homosexuality is against the law. Living in close quarters, having to portray an illegal relationship, adds unexpected tensions to an already dangerous situation.

A simple plot that was very well executed, never lost itself in trying-too-hard originality or fell into any cliché traps, and for that it deserves full points. I'm no historian and I know little about England in the 1930s, so I can't say anything about the accuracy. From an interested reader's position, however, the setting was brilliantly done - details such as phonebooths, language, customs, it all brought the time to great vividness. Bonus points for keeping evil Nazi Germany in the background. Two very complex characters, adapting two very different personas. The author showed the difference between character and adopted persona in their language, in their behaviour. There were also hints at the psychological repercussions of being undercover as somebody else for an extended period, e.g. is the attraction honest or is it backlash from the persona? Plus development on a very subtle level for both guys. Seriously well done. Truly, any writer who can turn such a simple, predictable plot as "going undercover together and discovering mutual attraction" into something entertaining and enjoyable to read is a seriously good writer. The story moved at just the right pace, never too fast or too slow. It pulled the reader in and along, while at the same time you never got lost trying to remember what happened if you were interrupted. Some bits could have been fleshed out more, and the editing missed a few typos. Still a well-written book. Would recommend and read again.

A breezy, lightly-written, historical counter-espionage story. Despite being a story of spies, blackmail, illegal relationships, and law enforcement, the plot manages to avoid descending into melodrama. The slow-burn romance between two interesting men has an enjoyable tension, and reaches a satisfying end.

Did I ever say I don’t read historicals? Well, I guess I’m a convert now. I’ll most definitely read any historicals as entertaining and well-written as this book. This was a deliciously intricate caper-mystery-spy novel that I most certainly will read again in order to (re)discover and enjoy all the tiny details that made it such an enjoyable whole. Highly recommended.

Why haven't I seen this book before? It was exactly what I love. Deft writing, cracking plot and two main leads who sizzled with UST.

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Tags: rainbow awards 2015

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