Chariots on the Highway by Limol Moyal ~ Book Review by Ulysses

Chariots-on-the-highwayTitle: Chariots on the Highway

Author: Limol Moyal

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist:

Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 04/13/2015

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance

Blurb:

Every year, young men come from all over the world to join the IDF and fight for Israel. They leave everything behind and becoming what known as lone soldiers.

Tom, a young man from Kansas, has traveled to Israel to fight for his people. He came to fight, He came to escape.
Dan Green has it all. He owns Greentech technologies, lives in a small mention near Tel Aviv, and looks like a movie star. But his blue eyes, hiding a storm that threatens to smash him.
The end of his marriage to Lena, his memories of his late father, his disappointment with himself and his internal wars, pushing him towards the edge.
Dan and Tom cross paths at a crucial point in their lives. None of them thought that what began as volunteering mission, will change everything they thought they knew.
This is a journey of exploration and discovery. About asking the right questions and finding the answers.
In traffic jams of Ayalon Highway, the bustle of the city, on the battlefield, and deep in their dreams. Together they peel layers of pain, and find themselves.

My View:

A fascinating and largely well-written variation on the romantic novel, different from most because it’s set in Israel. The Israel of Limor Moyal’s “Chariots on the Highway” feels eerily like America, and having spent time in Tel Aviv, I can vouch for the authenticity of that feeling.

Dan Green is 34 and is in the process of divorcing his unhappy wife of five years. Immediately we begin to see Dan as a complex, bottled up, bitter man. He is so shut off from his own emotions he barely understands his own motivations. Following advice from several wise people—Dan and the book are lucky to have several well drawn bit players around him—he is persuaded to perform a bit of altruism by taking on a “lone soldier.” Lone soldiers are members of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) who have no family in Israel. They are often young foreign Jewish men seeking a deeper connection with their heritage by serving in the military. In this case, Dan meets a strapping 23-year-old Texan named Tom Freeman, who is part of an elite corps of soldiers, but seems to have no contact with his only Israeli relative.

You can see where this is going, but Moyal offers us layers of secrets and backstory that have to be gradually peeled away to reveal the truth that lies within both of these young men. Dan Green’s messed up emotional baggage would be adequate for its own book; but as it happens, happy jock Tom Freeman has his own pile of psychological chains from which he has to free himself. While he appears to be pretty together, we come to understand that his presence in Israel is a kind of ironic escape.

There is plenty of strong (if formulaic) emotional material here, and that’s essential in books like this. To me (and maybe only to me) the one real flaw in the plot is that it hinges on my least-favorite m/m romance trope, the “gay for you” syndrome. Even though Dan seems, if anything rather more asexual than anything (obviously tied up with his emotional constipation), his very clear insistence that he’s not drawn to men sexually, makes the entire premise of the narrative hard for me to, um, swallow.

I can’t recall if I’ve ever read a character like this in a book by a gay man. I’ve  certainly never met one in all the forty years since I came out. I’ve met any number of closeted, religious, married and other sorts of men who ended up gay; but never one who suddenly out of the blue fell in love with another man with no prior inkling. I am a romantic, I believe in “the one” (in concept at least). But I wanted a different sort of self-discovery from Dan Green; one that I could believe in with more than half my heart.

That said, I particularly liked the last quarter of the book, both for its action and its resolution of the plot. If I was disappointed that an Israeli woman writing m/m didn’t venture further afield than Moyal did, then perhaps it’s because I have unrealistic expectations of the genre.

Links

Chariots on the Highway on Goodreads
Self Published
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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