Friday, August 12, 2011

Tobias’s Own Adventure

Title: Tobias’s Own Adventure
Author: Connor Wright
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-61581-864-8
Genre: {M/M} Steampunk
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Rogue Satyr 

Tobias Poole is a young man who always has his nose in adventure books. He has difficulty with his family over certain issues, so reading allows him to escape. His first reluctant trip away from home is on an airship that is attacked by the infamous air pirate “The Hawk”. The Hawk, Caledfryn Heddwyn Hawthorne, is a polite, gentlemanly, handsome and dashing robber.  He asks the wealthy passengers to drop their valuables in a bag, all the while apologizing for the inconvenience. He refuses to take wedding rings; anything inscribed from a loved one and even allows a woman to take the picture of her boyfriend out of her locket before handing it over.  For reasons he couldn’t really answer, Tobias attacks Caled, trying to wrestle the gun from him. Caled is much stronger then he looks and rebukes Tobias. After he finishes robbing the rest of the passengers, Caled takes Tobias along with him.  He takes him to a hidden airship hanger, nearby Caled’s house. Caled is the perfect host, and allows Tobias the use of his extensive, if unorganized, library.  In it Tobias finds a book of homoerotic drawings and poems.  He quickly slams it shut and puts it back on the shelf as the images and poetry get more and more graphic. Caled eventually gives Tobias two choices; stay with Caled and become an air pirate or go to his original destination, all expenses paid by Caled.  Tobias doesn’t want to become a criminal, but he doesn’t want to do what his family had planned for him either. Tobias knows there has to be a third choice. 

Tobias’s Own Adventure is a witty, funny, unpredictable, and at times tense, romp. After the first two chapters I thought I had the whole story figured out. Boy was I wrong. The story takes an interesting, delightful and totally unexpected twist. I love when a story does that and Tobias’s Own Adventure handles it well.  The plot is strong, the characters are well written and believable, the relationships are complex and you are always kept on your toes. I absolutely fell in love with Caled and Tobias and their chemistry. Although it is hinted at early in the story, it is slowly revealed that both Tobias and Caled are gay. The airship Tobias was on was taking him to a doctor, a doctor Caled is familiar with, to ‘cure’ Tobias’s disinterest in women.  It is hinted at that there is an arranged marriage waiting back home for Tobias, with a woman Tobias feels nothing for, not even with the few kisses he has had with her. But his first kiss with a man, Tobias feels it to his toes. Many times a gay romance historical story will ignore the prejudices of the past (or even today) and become totally unbelievable. Not this story. Tobias’s sexual preferences, and the abhorrence his family has with them, is very much part of the plot. Although the precise time is not given, it is sometime during the Victorian Era, with stuffy Victorian mores. It is handled in a sensitive, subtle, and inoffensive way, and handled with deftness.  

This is a great story that made me feel as if I was on the same adventure as Tobias. The world is given in great detail. Although there are no graphic sex scenes in this story, the build up to the off screen sex is some of the most erotic I’ve read. Sometimes, less is definitely more. Much of the story takes place in Luxembourg and the author obviously has done a lot of research. (Who knew there was a language Luxembourgish?) The dialogue has short phrases in French, German, and Luxembourgish and it just adds to the adventure aspect of the story. My only complaint is that, except for airships and air pirates which are kept mostly in the background, the steampunk elements are non-existent. Not that this ruined my enjoyment of the story. It is just that a publisher lists the genre as ‘steampunk’ I expect, well, steampunk. Fortunately for this story what steampunk there is, is more than enough.  This is a well thought out, wonderful story that works on so many levels. I hope that Tobias has another adventure.

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