REVIEW: The Saturnalia Effect by Heidi Belleau,Violetta Vane
Dear Ms. Belleau and Ms. Vane.
I found this story by clickingclickingclicking through the various posted responses to our post about M/M romance and Fan Fiction. Heidi gives good blog and then I was intrigued, as I always am with prison stories, by the short she wrote with Violetta Vane. This story is fabulous, I’m so thrilled I found it, and I can’t wait for more from this pair of authors.Troy is very young (early 20s) and in prison for 40 years for following where his more dangerous twin led, which is into a jewelry store heist that ended with the death of his twin after the twin killed a cop. At the beginning of the story, Troy’s being threatened by a prison leader and his heavy into killing another inmate. The short story (56 ePub pages, 23K words) tells of Troy’s relationship with Daniel, the guy he’s supposed to kill. Daniel’s an ex-mobster who’s turned over a new leaf in prison, but is even more of a lifer than Troy. He takes Troy under his wing, both sexually and protection-wise. And despite the setting, it’s a sweet, poignant love story between two men with nothing left to lose.
This summary doesn’t do much to explain how GOOD this story is. The writing is brilliant, gripping. The characters are engrossing. The story’s told entirely from Troy’s deep third-person perspective, but Daniel’s still a great presence.
1. If you buy the book direct from Storm Moon Press, it’ll come with an outtake, a blowjob scene from the middle of the book. Reading this scene after reading the story, I can’t understand why it was taken out. It’s integral to the establishment of the characters of both Troy and Daniel and to their relationship dynamic. It makes the betrayal later in the book more devastating, it makes the ending more magical. This is a perfect example of how erotic scenes, when done right, can NOT just be cut out without damaging the rest of the story.
2. The ending is a HFN/HEA, but only through a measure of magical realism that is hinted at, but by no means an integral part of the rest of the book. This book is firmly contemporary-set, but the only way these men are getting their HEA is through paranormal mumbo-jumbo, so it’s necessary to the book, worked in well, but a little unusual. My literary self both loved the implications of the way the ending was done, but had also enjoyed the story and characters so much that I would have been content with a non-HEA ending. And I never ever ever say that.
P.S. Cover is horrible, but I love that Troy is actually depicted as Middle Eastern, as he is in the book.ARE