REVIEW: Roses in December by Fiona Glass
Dear Ms. Glass,
I started reading this book out of curiosity and couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve purchased a few gay “romances” and most let me down in one of two ways. Either they’re erotica that has left romance and character out for the most part, or they’re just not written that well. This book, on the other hand, is all about characters and romance, and you write very well.
The flow and pacing of your book just pulled me through it. It was so smooth I didn’t notice pages slipping by. I loved your dialogue too. You seem to have a gift for that. The internal monologues of your hero and his talks with the others in the hospital were completely natural. His point of view said loads about his character without you have to say more.
The language of the story is very British and very authentic (probably because you are authentically British?). It might confuse some American readers a little, but those familiar with any British literature should understand it quite well. Besides, as the story is told from the point of view of the hero it only added to his character.
The story itself reminded me of gothic romances, or the best ghost stories, ones told by someone who understands understatement. The little hints throughout the book added to the otherworldliness, and the questions I had kept mounting, even though I thought I was beginning to grasp what was going on. But the time I hit the last section I was flying through it to get to the end.
A word about the story for those who might be curious… Nat Brook is sergeant in the British army whose leg was destroyed in an IRA bombing, and he’s experiencing some realistically told mental problems as a result as well. He’s been sent from hospital to hospital until he finally arrives at
Romance comes in the form of a mischievous young man that Nat meets one day wandering the gardens. The man, Richie, is entrancing, not just to Nat but the reader, charming us in every scene he appears in. His appearance is rare which brings it into even sharper contrast with the drabness and depression Nat is experiencing elsewhere.
The rarity of their encounters might bother some readers though who prefer the romantic leads have more time together. Richie feels more like a secondary character, though an important one. And to be honest, I didn’t find their sex scenes to be erotic, more just a couple of blokes having sex. But erotic is really in the eye of the beholder, so many may not agree with me. But thank God the sex was not the Tab A into Slot B set pieces in standard erotica that I normally skim or skip altogether. It was sex, told simply and well, and readable as such.
The other thing I loved a little less was the way the ending was handled. Or maybe not. I keep going back and forth about this one. When I read it I blinked at the speed with which it was finished. By the time I got down to the last chapter, I had an inkling of how it might end, and was surprised at how very much you fit in there. And while the last few lines were lovely, part of me just wanted a little more. But I also like the rhythm of the section that led to that final point, and the fact that it feels *right*. To be honest I’m not sure which I’d prefer, to have my cake and eat it too it seems. But I’d invested so much in the characters that for once I wanted an epilogue. I know some readers would definitely want a little something extra there.
But overall I liked this story so much. It’s not for everyone, not because the heroes are gay, though that won’t appeal to some, but because it’s not action packed and there’s not a lot of talking and the heroes don’t spend a whole lot of time together. But anyone who wants a book that draws them into another world and keeps them there for the duration, this is it. A-.