Author: Suzey Ingold
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Colin Moore
Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 02/18/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Historical, M/M Romance
In the height of the Prohibition era in Manhattan, recent Yale graduate Heath Johnson falls for Art, the proprietor of a unique speakeasy where men are free to explore their sexuality. When Art’s sanctuary is raided, Heath is forced to choose between love and the structured life his parents planned for him.
“It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
SPEAKEASY is set in New York City, in the summer of 1927, and basically tells the story of 21 year old Heath Johnson, in particular, how he is finally growing up and becoming his own person.
He’s come home from finishing his studies at Yale and his parents expect him to start working in his father’s firm and to marry a nice young woman, but while Heath knows that he wants neither, he can’t quite figure out what it is that he wants to do with his life.
But he’s still got the summer ahead of him.
His dear friend Frankie introduces him to the TJ, an underground speakeasy, in which not only alcohol is served but which has become a haven and family for gay men of the time, and where he meets the owner Art. It is so wonderfully romantic and sweet how these two fall in love with each other and was just lovely <3
I was pretty much in book heaven until the 80% mark because the book has an interesting, atmospheric, and realistic setting, the characters are well-crafted, even the secondary ones, the language is beautiful, and the romance even more so.
I thought it was extraordinary how fast and deeply I cared for Heath.
The author has an eye for details without getting overly descriptive, and I think she’s really talented in how she brings the story alive. I also really loved her choice of a third person, present tense narration.
But… I think even before the 80% mark I started to wonder why Heath wasn’t facing his problems, like, at all. To give you a clearer picture:
Heath always avoids the path of conflict or complication, allows himself to be guided by his parents and their expectations and is suggestible to a fault.
This couldn’t be any more true. Although, of course, Heath falls in love and gets to know other men like him, he just needs ages, AGES, to make his own decisions. When he finally does, it is so late in the story, I couldn’t even believe in him anymore, because of what he did before, because of what leads to his decision. Actually, to be honest, if it weren’t for how things played out with Art, I don’t believe Heath would have come to his senses. He would have led a miserable life, with a wife and a job he hates. He came so close.
So, I neither liked this—because gosh, was this miserable—but moreover I don’t think this was well done in terms of character and plot development.
Another thing that seems a bit implausible to me is the way their sexual attraction and physical relationship is handled. I liked that the book has a strong focus on the emotional part of the relationship and I didn’t miss a sex scene per se, but since they sleep together in a bed, have a bath together, and tease each other about taking their attraction further, it simply seems odd that nothing ever happens, not even off page. It’s like their libido doesn’t exist at all, and if it weren’t for the teasing, that might be believable, too, but not like this.
I always find it very difficult to rate a book that was so amazing at first but then disappoints me in the end, because it was such a great read for most of the time, but leaves me with a slightly unsatisfied feeling behind and I don’t want to be unfair.
So, I still recommend reading this book—and maybe you won’t be bothered by my complaints at all; good for you then 🙂 —because there is a lot to love here. If it hadn’t been for the lack of sensible character development, I’d have given at least 4.5 stars.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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,
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