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REVIEW: Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale

Dear Ms. Hale,

I first heard of your book, Wicked Gentlemen, when it was nominated in the GLBT category of our DA BWAHA March Madness tournament. Wicked Gentlemen made it to the third round of the tournament, which means it was the runner-up in the GLBT category.

At the time we were collecting votes, K.Z. Snow mentioned that the prose and storyline in the pdf excerpt posted on your site were phenomenal. Since I’m always hungry for the combination of phenomenal prose and storyline, I proceeded to read the excerpt. I was very impressed, and I quickly ordered the book.

Wicked Gentlemen is comprised of two closely connected novellas which blend the genres of steampunk paranormal, M/M romance, suspense and allegory smoothly and expertly. The first novella, “Mr. Sykes and the Firefly” is written in first person and narrated by one of the book’s two heroes, while the second novella, “Captain Harper and the Sixty Second Circle,” is written in third person, in the POV of the book’s other hero.

Both novellas are set in a world patterned after Victorian England, but one in which the descendants of demons, known as “Prodigals” have risen from hell to accept salvation from human priests. But instead of salvation the Prodigals encountered persecution. They are confined to the city, where most of them live in a subterranean ghetto called Hells Below. If they are suspected of any crime, they can be arrested and interrogated by the Inquisition, a religious police force.

Belimai Sykes is a Prodigal who resides above ground and makes his living by offering various services for hire. Like other Prodigals, Belimai possesses pointy ears, black nails and yellow eyes. Besides these, his demon ancestors also bequeathed him paranormal abilities, but since the nature of these aren’t revealed immediately, I won’t spoil their discovery for readers. In his past, Belimai was captured and tortured by the Inquisition, an experience which left him scarred and addicted to a drug called ophorium.

As “Mr. Sykes and the Firefly” begins, two men arrive at Belimai’s door. One is a physician, Dr. Edward Talbott, and the other an inquisitor, Captain William Harper. The two men are brothers-in-law. They want Belimai to investigate an abduction. Harper’s sister, Joan, who is also Tablott’s wife, has gone missing. She was last seen in a carriage which had been broken into. While Dr. Talbott reported the break in, his wife rode home in the carriage. But on their arrival at the Tablott residence, the driver and groom discovered that the interior of the carriage was empty.

Before her disappearance, Joan had been receiving warning letters from a Prodigal named Mr. Roffcale. Joan and Roffcale were both members of the Good Commons Society, an organization of activists that agitates for suffrage for both women and Prodigals. Joan’s involvement with the Commons was not a matter of public knowledge, though she often wrote controversial pamphlets. Now Captain Harper has arrested Roffcale and is holding him in a cell, but he hopes to avoid interrogating Roffcale since he doesn’t want Joan’s activism to become publicized.

Belimai agrees to take the case, and he and Captain Harper go to the Inquisition House to question Roffcale. Just entering the Inquisition House is agony for Belimai, who is assaulted with painful memories of his stay there. But worse is yet to come. When Belimai and Harper reach Roffcale’s cell they find only his disemboweled remains.

The sight leaves them both shaken, and when Captain Harper suggests that he owes Belimai a drink, Belimai prefers getting drunk to a sleepless night of trying to forget the murder. While they are drinking together, Belimai warms to Harper, despite his being an inquisitor. A drunk Harper then ends up in Belimai’s bed, but the next morning, they dismiss their lovemaking in what is a wonderful bit of dialogue and narration:

“About last night…” Harper shifted slightly. “I think it would be best if we got it clear between the two of us–”

“I have no intention of telling anyone, if that’s what you’re worried about.” I smiled so that Harper could see my long teeth. “And I don’t think you’re likely to go bragging about it, so what’s left to say?”

“No, I meant between us… We were both pretty drunk. I just wanted you to understand that… ” Harper paused, unwilling to go on. Steadily, the pause began to spread into a lingering silence. He seemed unable to make himself speak of the night before. It amused, but didn’t surprise me.

“You want to make it clear that it was just a drunk fuck?” I filled in for him at last.

Belimai is incredibly hard on himself, but his self-deprecation is also part of what makes him fascinating. For example, his response to the above conversation is as follows:

It was pleasant to find another man as willing to let go as myself. Others had lingered in my bed and concerned themselves with the syringes scattered across my desk. They had clung to me as I descended into ruin. Some had attempted to save me. I had been wept on, slapped, and pulled into a dozen chapels by men who had mistaken me for their true love.

None of them had understood that my moments of sweetness were pure ophorium. Everything that they seemed to love about me came from the needles they detested. The man they desired was an illusion, an ugly stone made briefly beautiful by a trick of the light. In their own ways, each of them had fallen as deeply in love with my addiction as I had. None of them had known how absurd they were, begging me to leave behind that drug that was the source of all they loved most about me. My kindness, my calm, even my careless ease. Ophorium made me their perfect lover because it erased the truth of what I was.

But Belimai is in fact a better person than he believes he is, and Captain Harper is also not quite what he first appears to be. As they investigate Joan’s disappearance and Roffcale’s murder, which seems to be related to other killings, they begin to see through each other’s facades, even as things become more and more dangerous for them.

Wicked Gentlemen is a one of the most original books I have read in a long time. Though I’m not an expert on the paranormal and fantasy genres, the world building here struck me as fresh, consistent and startling.

The world of Wicked Gentlemen is constructed of unexpected combinations of pieces from our own history and mythologies that fit together into a flawless design. You also use physical, sensory details like the Prodigals’ sensitivity to light and holy water, and the humans’ sensitivity to heat, to make the reader feel that world.

Not only that, by making the priesthood police force threatening and dangerous, and the Prodigals victims of persecution, you raise thought provoking questions about the line between maintaining law and order and allowing personal freedom. But though it can be read as an allegory about racism, homophobia, and other forms of persecution, Wicked Gentlemen never feels preachy.

The characters of Belimai and Captain Harper are both appealing and extremely interesting, and a few of the secondary characters are almost as intriguing. Even though some of them only appear in a few pages, they felt very real to me.

The mystery and suspense plots are also well-executed, especially the one in the second novella, “Captain Harper and the Sixty Second Circle.” I wish I could say more about this novella, as I enjoyed it very much, but since it picks up where Belimai and Harper’s lives and relationship were left at the end of “Mr. Sykes and the Firefly,” I think that to do so would reveal too much.

Suffice to say that Harper, when we finally get his point-of-view in the second novella, is just as intriguing as Belimai.

The contrast between Belimai and Harper is the engine that drives the book.
Where Harper is a respected member of high society and a priest-inquisitor, Belimai is viewed by the same society which so respects Harper as guilty until proven innocent. If Harper is the pinnacle for which some men aspire, Belimai is viewed as the dregs.

The gap in their positions, and Harper’s seeming flawlessness in comparison with Belimai, is epitomized in the first moment of intimacy between them:

I led Captain Harper back to my rooms and peeled off his black coat and his priest’s collar. Slowly, I worked his gloves off, exposing his long fingers. His nails were as pink and glossy as the insides of a seashell. Each was tipped with a perfect white crescent. I kissed the soft skin of his palm. His stainless body was everything mine could never be. I hungered for that perfection.

It is that gap in their status that makes their relationship forbidden on all sorts of levels. Not just because they are both men, and the world in which they lived is Victorian in its sensibilities, but because of the mistrust, prejudice, and bigotry that separates their two races, and also since their stations in life are so very different that most of their acquaintances would not understand the relationship if they became aware of it. The barriers they face make their hunger for each other extremely compelling.

Harper and Belimai’s personalities are different as well, at least on the surface. Belimai is a sarcastic, self-deprecating rebel who is often contrary just for the sake of being contrary; Harper is seemingly devoted to duty. But the disappearance of his sister triggers long-dormant impulses in Harper, impulses that reveal that he too, is at heart a rebel, if one of a more quiet and less overt sort.

Just as the two men contrast, so do the two novellas, which differ not only in their suspense story arcs and POV characters but also in the fact that the first is narrated in first person and the second in third person.

Although I found that choice unusual, it worked for me because it made the book more textured and varied, and because while first person narration was suitable to Belimai’s talkative personality, third person was more appropriate for the quiet and private Captain Harper.

I have just a few quibbles about Wicked Gentlemen. First, there were a few times when I felt that the grittiness of the descriptions was slightly overdone, such as for example in a scene in which Harper just barely dodges the contents of a chamberpot. Second the description was frequently vivid and sharp; I loved, for example, this bit of ophorium high:

Two hours later, the night blossomed. The sky unfolded in rich waves of purple and blue velvet. Breezes traced pale violet ribbons through the darkness. Tiny buds of glittering stars burst into brilliant illuminations.

But as much as I loved your writing style, I noticed, after a while, that all the sentences were either short or medium-length, and I would have loved a little more variety in sentence length — an occasional long sentence here or there would have been nice.

Lastly, there were so many interesting characters, situations, and backstories in Wicked Gentlemen that I would have loved for the book to be a bit longer so that these could have been explored in more depth. More of Belimai and Harper’s relationship would have been good, too.

For our readers who may be wondering, I should mention that there is only one explicit love scene — but that one is pretty high on the heat meter. There is also violence in the book, but though I tend to be fairly sensitive to violence, I was able to handle it.

Although Wicked Gentlemen is not perfect, it is so sharply observed, so uniquely constructed, so original, and so touching in places that I have to give it a high recommendation. I am not in the habit of reading M/M romances but I enjoyed this one so much that I was very glad of the chance I took by spending $12.95 on it, and I’m now off to buy the anthology Tangle, which contains your novella, “Feral Machines.” As for Wicked Gentlemen, it’s an A- for me.

Sincerely,

Janine

This book can be purchased in trade paperback from Amazon or directly from the publisher. No ebook format.

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

46 Comments

  1. Ann Somerville
    May 12, 2008 @ 04:58:24

    I’m so glad you reviewed this. I love this book to bits and always tell people who want good fantasy M/M to try it.

    The Tangle anthology is fabulous. There are three stories which I don’t think are that great, but the rest are gems. The two novellas at the end, including Ginn Hale’s, are worth the purchase price alone.

  2. Amanda
    May 12, 2008 @ 08:51:04

    I also bought this book after reading the excerpt around March Madness time, and I loved it. Off to buy Tangle, too!

  3. Chicklet
    May 12, 2008 @ 08:56:11

    Gah! I just resolved to stop buying books until my TBR pile is reduced by 70%, and then you post this! *is weak*

  4. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 09:23:45

    Ann — After reading it, I really wanted to review it to help the book reach a wider audience. I would encourage even people who aren’t looking for a good fantasy M/M to try it, because a good book is a good book, and there aren’t many as unique as this one.

    Amanda – Glad you enjoyed it too. I hope to review Tangle also, if I can make the time.

    Chicklet – I’m evil that way. :)

  5. carolyn Jean
    May 12, 2008 @ 10:43:31

    I’m so glad you reviewed this. I stumbled across this through a cross recommendation on Amazon, (though I don’t buy books from them anymore!) But they still send me stuff. Anyway, I thought, I have never heard of this and I’m going to buy it. Which is something I never do. In fact, I was planning to this week. So happy to hear you liked it!

  6. Sherry Thomas
    May 12, 2008 @ 11:20:21

    Wow. The snippets. I see now why you are so impressed with it.

  7. NHS
    May 12, 2008 @ 11:47:20

    I just recently learned about the whole steampunk thing and I’m completely fascinated by it.
    And you’re right a good book is a good book.
    This is definitely one to add to my list.

  8. Sarah Frantz
    May 12, 2008 @ 12:11:24

    Gotta check. Happy ending, right? Or at least, HFN?

  9. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 13:08:16

    Carolyn, NHS and Sarah — I hope you all enjoy it. And yes, there’s a very nice happy ending.

  10. DS
    May 12, 2008 @ 13:48:15

    This is really intriguing. Sold!

  11. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 13:53:10

    I hope you like it too, DS.

    Actually I would love to hear from any of you who read this book.

  12. Jill Sorenson
    May 12, 2008 @ 14:21:39

    I also just googled steampunk. Fascinating. I haven’t read much m/m before (Jules and Robin are it!), but I like good writing and this sounds excellent.

  13. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 14:27:21

    I hope you enjoy it, Jill.

    I meant to mention earlier that I saw on Ms. Hale’s website that she has also written a “monster epic fantasy” trilogy called The Rifter which is “making the rounds with publishers.” I hope that someone is smart enough to snap it up and publish it.

  14. kirsten saell
    May 12, 2008 @ 16:51:17

    Oh oh oh, how I wish it came in ebook format! The excerpt was simply amazing, sucked me right in and now I’m gonna have to explain to my mom why I want her to pick me up a copy of a gay romance steampunk novel next time she’s at the bookstore.

  15. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 17:00:13

    Kirsten — I’m not sure you can find it at the bookstore since it’s published by a small press. You will probably need to mail order or else special order this book. Barnes and Noble and Powells’ online stores don’t carry it, but you can order the book either from Amazon or from blindeyebooks.com (the publisher). There are links at the bottom of the review.

    Ms. Hale says on her website that she is considering ebook publishers for her epic fantasy trilogy, and she asks readers and writers to get in touch with her and let her know of their experiences with ebook publishers, so there’s a possiblity that we will see an ebook or three from her in the future.

    Something else I forgot to mention earlier is that Wicked Gentlemen is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror category. I am tempted to try other finalists if Wicked Gentlemen is an example of the quality of the selected books.

  16. kirsten saell
    May 12, 2008 @ 17:10:33

    Oh, that would be sweeeet! Epic fantasy is totally my bag, even though it can be hard to find ones I end up loving. I live in the middle of nowhere on the tip of Vancouver Island, and the nearest real bookstore is a three hour drive through unpopulated forest. I hate ordering from Amazon, cause I usually get dinged more for shipping than the cover price of the book. Nothing annoys me more than that. Well, okay, a bunch of things annoy me more than that…

    ETA, on the bright side, I won’t have to have that difficult conversation with my mom–at least not until my fourth book comes out next year, yikes.

  17. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 17:31:37

    Kirsten, I think shipping is less expensive (just $2.75) if you order here.

  18. kirsten saell
    May 12, 2008 @ 17:56:31

    Oh, that would be much better–and I always prefer to buy direct from a publisher, too. More money to the folks who did the work.

  19. K. Z. Snow
    May 12, 2008 @ 18:26:45

    YAY!!!!!

    I have been trumpeting this astonishing breath of fresh air everywhere I’ve been able. (I mean, hell, you’d think I’d written it!) A nod to Ann, whose detailed, thoughtful review convinced me to read the book — although, truth be told, I was pretty near convinced after perusing the excerpt posted at Blind Eye. This little pub’s covers are wondrous, as well.

    The prose, the world, the characters of Wicked Gentlemen not only knocked my socks off, they almost peeled the calluses off my heels. And, believe me, that is NO small accomplishment!

    (Thank you, Janine, for bringing WG to readers’ attention.)

  20. Ann Somerville
    May 12, 2008 @ 18:51:14

    A nod to Ann, whose detailed, thoughtful review convinced me to read the book

    Yay!

    Ahem – you mean, people actually read those things? :)

    I love it when people love the same books I do. It’s like being in a group hug or something.

  21. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 18:54:07

    K.Z., thank you for calling my attention to this book in the first place. Being able to let readers know about great books is possibly my favorite thing about reviewing for Dear Author.

    You are welcome to trumpet the next book that almost gives you a pedicure anytime. :)

    Seriously, if you (or anyone else) stumble onto another book with such strong prose and characterization, please do drop me a line. I am always on the hunt for great books. I can’t promise that I will agree they are great, or that I will review them, but I’m always open to looking at an excerpt.

  22. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 18:56:55

    I love it when people love the same books I do. It's like being in a group hug or something.

    Yes, it’s a great feeling. I am really looking forward to Tangle, too, and hope I like it as much as you did, Ann.

  23. Ann Somerville
    May 12, 2008 @ 19:01:22

    I am always on the hunt for great books.

    Janine, what genres are you looking for within romance? Do you like fantasy/sci-fi? Real world stories? I’ve got masses of m/m recs I could give you, if you’d care to let me know your tastes.

    My own reviews are here:
    http://unique.logophilos.net/?author=5
    And mirrored on my website, but there are books reviewed by other members of the UP team which I could point you at with confidence that you would at least be looking at strong writing, even if you didn’t like the story in the end.

  24. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 19:22:51

    I don’t think there’s a subgenre of romance that I would refuse to read, but my favorite settings are historical — either real historical (except westerns, which I can enjoy but aren’t my first choice), historical fantasy or made up history like steampunk.

    I prefer settings outside the United States but again I can enjoy American contemporaries too — for example I gave two of Megan Hart’s books A- grades, and that’s what she writes. Ditto paranormals and SF. I love Ursula Le Guin. Still, historicals set outside the U.S. are my faves.

    I should clarify though and add that strong prose is probably the most important criteria to my enjoyment of a book. I would much rather read a western (even though it’s not my favorite setting) written in well-crafted prose than a European historical written in weak prose. And after that I care most about characterization. Characterization is really what puts a book over the top for me.

    So while setting is a factor, it’s not the most important factor to me.

  25. Michelle
    May 12, 2008 @ 20:15:56

    I loved this book. I went to the excerpt link from the SBTB site and was hooked immediately and ordered the book. The world building and characterizations were excellent-you felt like you were right there. I would like to see a sequel.

    Regarding other books, some of my favorites in fantasy:
    The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Pope
    Howls Moving Castle Diana Wynne Jones
    Sorcery and Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot- Patricia Wrede
    They all have varying romantic storylines too.

    For epic fantasy with M/M Lynn Flewellings Nigtrunner series-starts with Luck in the Shadows.

    Still waiting for Megan Whalen Turner’s King of Attolia review. My new comfort read-which has one of the BEST endings.

  26. Ann Somerville
    May 12, 2008 @ 20:36:34

    Characterization is really what puts a book over the top for me.

    Okay, here goes – just a few to be getting on with.

    For strong voice and characterisation, I adore PL Nunn’s writing:

    Dynasty of Ghosts (reviewed here before it was edited and released through Lulu, and

    Bloodraven (warning – very gory, very explicit), reviewed here

    Both with previews and purchase links here.

    Lee Benoit has a lyrical and powerful style:

    Master of None: The Eight of Pentacles, reviewed here

    Servant of the Seasons 1: Autumn, reviewed here

    Manna Francis has created a unique and very intense universe in The Administration, which is both good kinky writing and incredibly twisty science fiction too. One of the absolute classics, now coming into print, but you can read it on the web for free.

    More strong fantasy by Jesse Hajicek in The God Eaters, reviewed here

    I’m reluctant to rec this author because he gets more than enough attention without it, but honesty forces me to insist you read Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon, reviewed here.

    A much overlooked and really quite lovely novel is A strong and sudden thaw by R. W. Day, reviewed here.

  27. K. Z. Snow
    May 12, 2008 @ 22:09:48

    You are welcome to trumpet the next book that almost gives you a pedicure anytime. :)

    Janine, I’d almost typed “that was no small feat”…but God forbid I should make a bad pun. ;-)

    You’re very welcome, by the way. You did a wonderful job of presenting this wonderful book.

  28. K. Z. Snow
    May 12, 2008 @ 22:16:57

    Ahem – you mean, people actually read those things? :)

    I read your reviews regularly, Ann, and they’re excellent. Not many people review m-m fiction, which, when done well, is one of my favorite subgenres.

    I love it when people love the same books I do. It's like being in a group hug or something.

    Ditto.

  29. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 22:50:21

    Michelle — I’m so glad you liked this book too. Thank you so much for the recommendations! And I promise, I haven’t forgotten about The King of Attolia. I really want to read it, it’s just tough to find the time because newer books and ARCs always feel more pressing than books that have been out a while. But I will get to it, and hopefully sometime in the next few months.

    Ann — Thanks for the recommendations, reviews and links. I just read a bunch of excerpts of these. The only one that bowled me over instantly, I mean grabbed me by the throat and would not let go was A Strong and Sudden Thaw. What gorgeous writing. I will definitely be reading that one though (see what I said to Michelle above) I don’t know how soon.

    Master of None looked interesting, and so did the little bit I read of The Administration, so I will keep them in mind, too. But my TBR stack being the tower that it is, I can’t say when I will get to them.

    Thanks so much for the recommendations — am really, really looking forward to A Stong and Sudden Thaw. The sentences just sang to me.

    K.Z. – ROTFL! And thanks.

  30. Marjorie Liu
    May 12, 2008 @ 22:58:57

    I also highly recommend Turnskin by Nicole Kimberling, which is from the same publisher, and is a M/M romance about an isolated shape-shifter who is both playwright and actor, and who flees his small home for the city. It’s lovely.

  31. Janine
    May 12, 2008 @ 23:14:22

    Turnskin looks interesting too. I’m in danger of going broke here…

  32. Ann Somerville
    May 12, 2008 @ 23:16:34

    Janine, Thaw is a good choice, and I hope you enjoy it.

    Marjorie, I wasn’t so enamoured of Turnskin, but there is lots to like in it. It really came down to it not being my thing more than anything else. Kimberling is a good writer. (I reviewed Turnskin here.)

  33. CP
    May 13, 2008 @ 21:09:43

    I bought Wicked Gentlemen completely based on the cover. I’m a tiny bit ashamed of saying so, but it was so beautiful I had to have it. Imagine my pleasant surprise in finding I really loved the story too.

  34. Gail Dayton
    May 16, 2008 @ 16:06:59

    I have just ordered this book from Amazon (got free shipping because there were a couple of other books I wanted that I couldn’t get on the island, since our bookstore has closed down–well, there IS a “lit’rary” book store. And a Target and a Walmart–need I say more?)

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Have any of y’all read Ellen Kushner’s SWORDS OF RIVERSIDE (A 2-in-1 volume of the novels Swordspoint & The Privilege of the Sword) There’s a lovely m/m romance at the heart of these books–the books aren’t very fantastical fantasy. They’re more made-up historicals in a different universe, where once there Might have been Magic, but there isn’t any more.

    I’m also interested in the steampunk elements of WG, because the book I’ve got coming out from TOR next spring will have some steampunk-ish elements to it. It’s more Victorian with magic, but there are also clankety monsters… (NEW BLOOD, March ’09–please excuse the shameless plug–thank you)

    And I will send my impressions of the book…as soon as it arrives, and I read it, and I squeeze out some time to write them down. :)

    G

  35. Janine
    May 16, 2008 @ 17:51:07

    Gail, I hope you enjoy Wicked Gentlemen. I have not read the Kushner, though I did read a short story she wrote which was set in that world, and I also have Swordspoint somewhere around here. Perhaps I should dig it up for review one of these days.

    And I will send my impressions of the book…as soon as it arrives, and I read it, and I squeeze out some time to write them down. :)

    Yes, please do, I would love to hear them. Good luck with New Blood, too. Is there an excerpt or book description posted somewhere? I couldn’t find them on your blog.

  36. DS
    May 16, 2008 @ 21:28:24

    Wicked Gentlemen arrived this morning. I did something I haven’t done in ages– I told whoever was answering the phone to take messages and I headed for my favorite couch with book and dog in tow. It was well worth it. Wicked Gentlemen did remind me of Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner– a book I reread at least once a year. It also reminded me a bit of Martha Wells, another author who does great low key but intense relationships in her fantasy novels. This is going on the bookshelf with the ones I don’t loan out.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that the big fantasy novel finds a publisher soon.

  37. Janine
    May 16, 2008 @ 23:07:52

    DS, I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoyed Wicked Gentlemen so much. I rarely find out how my reviews panned out for readers so thanks so much for letting me know!

  38. Amanda
    May 25, 2008 @ 02:05:35

    Ann, thanks for pointing us to The Administration by Manna Francis. I loaded it all onto my Sony Reader and told myself “just one more story” for so long the other night that I read until 6am. The next day was ROUGH.

    I have a couple of other books from these comments on their way here (Turnskin, A Strong and Sudden Thaw) or already sitting on my TBR stack (Swordspoint).

  39. Gail Dayton
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 15:58:02

    Wicked Gentlemen. I read it and enjoyed it thoroughly. The only thing wrong with it was that there wasn’t enough of it. I wanted more.

    Hale is very restrained in her writing–about the emotional aspects. She writes lush, gorgeous stuff about the world and environment, but the emotions are understated and covert. Which fits Belimai and Harper. B. doesn’t think about the things that are so important to him, if he can possibly help it–you get the impression that it’s because he’s afraid of losing them. H. is the same way. I think that may be the reason why I liked Harper’s story a little better. I think it was easier to show his character from the outside because even he didn’t stay in his insides very much. And I think Hale was more comfortable writing the love scene in the second story. I just liked the book and the world a lot, and would like to read more set in this universe.

  40. Janine
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 16:29:09

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book, Gail. Thanks for letting me know. I wanted more too, LOL, and I’m really hoping Hale sells her epic fantasy. I haven’t read Tangle yet but Hale has a novella in there and I hope to get to it soon.

    I agree with you about the emotions being understated and covert in Wicked Gentlemen. I loved that about it. I think it fits not only with Harper and Belimai’s characters but also with the fact that their romantic feelings for one another are forbidden and considered transgressive in their world (both because they are both male and because Belimai is a Prodigal and Harper an Inquisition Captain).

    I also agree with you about liking the second novella better. I’m not sure it was because it was in third person — it may just have been because I really loved Harper. Mrs. Giggles has a review of Wicked Gentlemen up today. She gives it an 85 out of 100 and interestingly, says she preferred the first novella and thinks Hale writes better in first person. She finds Belimai more sympathetic when she has access to his POV thoughts in “Mr. Sykes and the Firefly,” and that was true for me to some degree too, but I actually enjoyed seeing him as a bit less sympathetic in “Captain Harper and the 60 Second Circle.” For me, getting Harper’s POV in the second novella was immensely satisfying, because he was such a mysterious figure in the first one.

  41. REVIEW: Tangle (Anthology edited by Nicole Kimberling) | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 15:00:48

    [...] this anthology also contains other gems). I loved Hale’s novel, Wicked Gentlemen (reviewed here), so I was eager to read more by this talented [...]

  42. REVIEW: A Strong and Sudden Thaw by R.W. Day | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Apr 17, 2009 @ 04:00:40

    [...] May, when I reviewed Wicked Gentlemen, Ann Somerville recommended some m/m romances to me. I checked out excerpts from the books she [...]

  43. Review: Wicked Gentlemen, by Ginn Hale (and contest) « Racy Romance Reviews
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 16:18:48

    [...] Dear Author, Janine, A- [...]

  44. PRIDE WEEK: Hidden Gems from Joan/Sarah, John, and Sunita | Dear Author
    Jun 25, 2011 @ 11:01:49

    [...] Hale is one of the best writers in the genre when it comes to worldbuilding. Her first novel, Wicked Gentleman, has been widely reviewed, including here at DA by Janine. This book and its sequel are less well [...]

  45. Crazy Mia’s Amazing Emporium of Total Book Madness: 2/16/12 « Reading in Skirts
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 16:02:03

    [...] to Tia, because I bought this book on my Kindle recently after reading about it ages ago on Dear Author–and I picked it up at least halfway because it sounded like something Tia would enjoy. I [...]

  46. JOINT REVIEW & Giveaway: The Rifter Parts 1-5 by Ginn Hale
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 11:47:54

    [...] good things about Ginn Hale’s work, and I have Wicked Gentlemen in my TBR on the strength of Janine’s review here at DA. But my TBReviewed stack is bigger than the time I can allot to it, and I haven’t been [...]

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