Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Islands by Samantha Kane

TITLE: Islands
AUTHOR: Samantha Kane
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 30k)
GENRE: Gay historical erotic romance
COST: $5.20

In 1943, on a remote Pacific island, Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Conlan meets a Frenchman unlike any other man he’s ever known. Gabe only wants to negotiate for the American government, but Rene Dubois has his mind set on different negotiations – how to get Gabe into his bed. All Gabe has ever known were furtive, frankly unsatisfying flings in the near dark. He’s unprepared for Rene’s grand seduction, or for the fact it’s entirely possible for two men to make love to each other, rather than just have sex…

The first thing that strikes the reader in this historical novella is the sheer romanticism of the setting. Rene’s island is remote and primitive, ideal in environment and open-mindedness. Even though the year is 1943, the islanders lack many of the fears and narrow perspectives usually found in even contemporary settings. Gabe lands and discovers – ultimately – his own Paradise, even if he can only have it for three days.

Rene has known and indulged his desire for men since he was a teenager, so by the time he meets Gabe at thirty-six, he’s not only worldly but also accustomed to winning the partners he wants. His determined seduction succeeds in spite of Gabe’s inexperience with more indulgent behavior, and the sex that follows is hot and lush, both in deed and word. The two men fill parts of the other’s life that neither expected, but the three days ends quickly, leaving Rene no other choice but to find a way to get Gabe back.

For those interested in an overly romantic story, this one definitely satisfies on an emotional level. Some of the idealistic nature of the first four chapters felt a tad heavy for me, but I was still able to appreciate the sheer escapism of it. I actually enjoyed it more once Gabe had to leave and Rene found his own way to get him back, because there was some actual conflict then, rather than the deadline of Gabe’s departure. They are forced to deal with their affair in the real world – or at least, as real a world as one can find a remote Pacific island. It was at this point I started to actually invest in the characters, because they became more real for me as they dealt with feelings other than lust or idealized love, but there wasn’t quite enough of it to elevate this to keeper status. It’s possible this was entirely just my mood at the time I read it, but I wanted more than the Paradise presented. Others might be more than satisfied with the focus on romanticism, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the writing, or offensive in the primary characters. The men are smart and sympathetic, the prose rich. I enjoyed it, just not to the degree I think others might.


9/10 – Rich, romantic, and hot

Hero #1

7/10 – I liked his take no prisoners attitude in seducing Gabe, but occasionally, his romantic side felt a tad heavy

Hero #2

7/10 – Sharp and sympathetic

Entertainment value

7/10 – While it satisfies on emotional levels, it always felt like there was more to the story than what I got

World building

8/10 – Both worlds are well detailed




Samantha Kane said...

Thank you for the very nice review. I was constrained by the novella length since this book was originally planned as part of a multi-author anthology. But I wanted the story to be lush and romantic, and I'm glad to see that, at least for you, I succeeded. Thanks again!

Sarah said...

I enjoyed this story much and loved the island setting. Lush indeed!