Author: Alex Beecroft
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Standalone Novel
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Michael May is losing it. Long ago, he joined the Metropolitan Police to escape his father’s tyranny and protect people like himself. Now his father is dead, and he’s been fired for punching a suspect. Afraid of his own rage, he returns to Trowchester—and to his childhood home, with all its old fears and memories. When he meets a charming, bohemian bookshop owner who seems to like him, he clings tight.
Review: Ahh, Alex Beecroft I acknowledge up front that her lovely age of sail books, “Captain’s Surrender” and “False Colors”, were my “gateway to M/M romance.” Noticing a while back that she had an entire “Blues” series coming out… I was salivating. Suffice to say, that after reading the exquisitely written contemporary Trowchester Blues, my appetite was satisfied, yet I’m hungry for more!
This story begins with a harsh, gruesome crime. Don’t let it put you off reading, it’s important as to setting the tone for Michael’s frame of mind. While the story does not continue in a dark vein, there are moody moments, and times when harsh realities come front and center. This is a story of triumphing over one’s past and current demons. It is ultimately a story of healing, acceptance, personal growth, vulnerability and trust for all the characters- none of which comes easily. It revolves around the relationship between Michael and Finn, but the secondary characters, and the village of Trowchester itself, are of utmost importance.
Michael May is a 40 year old veteran of the Metro police in London. Divorced from his wife and burned out on his job, he finds himself heading to his home village of Trowchester following the death of his father. He is hoping to discover some peace and calm there, even though his childhood memories are light years away from rosy. Michael has a quiet, gruff demeanor and a somewhat tough guy exterior, but underneath is a gentle soul and a heart of gold. I found myself immediately liking Michael, and was rooting for him to find his happiness.
Jenny, his partner on the force says this to him: “You’re a lamb in wolf’s clothing.”
Fintan Hulme. Finn. I love this name. There’s such implied depth of character in that name alone, and this man lives up to it! The enigmatic Finn owns an eclectic bookstore full of antiquarian goodies.. I swoon. Finn swooned over Michael at their first meeting at the bookstore. Michael was immediately intrigued with the bookstore, and with Finn. Like Michael, Finn had come to Trowchester to start life anew. Only problem was, his past escapades as a high end antique fence are about to catch up with him. Ex- thief, meet ex- cop. What could go wrong? When they first meet, neither man is aware of the other’s past. When Finn realizes Michael’s, he’s already hooked on the man, and of course he’s not going to divulge his own sordid history. Ah, big mistake. Michael needed to ease into his relationship with Finn. It’s certainly not something he was looking for, and being with a man was not something he’d ever acted upon. Michael was cautiously letting his guard down.
The themes and subplots in this story are many and varied. It’s clear that the author is exploring many and varied social issues. If listed singularly, they may seem like overkill, as if there is too much going on in one story. The beauty of it is – there is no over the top feeling at all. As well as the obvious juxtaposition of Michael and Finn’s backgrounds, Michael is bi-sexual. The story also features a loyal ex-partner, a genderqueer ethnic youth, a homeless girl, the spectre of dead parents, and a corrupt constable. The subplots all coalesce with perfect symbiosis. By another’s pen, everything going on in this book could have been too much. Not here. It’s a flowing and mesmerizing story.
I love how Michael discovered the narrowboat on the river behind his family home. This afforded him a space to live while stripping the inside of the house of tangible items as well as memories to achieve a clean slate. The boat and neighboring boatyard also spurred him to discovering what he might like to do for a living, how he might be of help to others again. Helping people was such a crucial part of his nature, and one of the reasons he felt caught between a rock and hard place by his job as police officer. He began to see how he could be happy again. In Finn, he began to see a man at his side for the first time.
Finn, while slighter of build with a forward and bright personality, is harboring some heartache of his own. Despite this, he meets life head on. I wasn’t quite sure how to take Finn at first, but his colorful forward approach and inner strength won me over. He made some spectacularly wrong judgment calls, and paid dearly for them, but never backed into a corner, never gave up. Not when it came to his honor, not when it came to his new relationship with Michael. When Finn’s past catches up with him, he can no longer hide it from Michael. It’s time for the two men to buckle up and be completely honest with each other. Michael is thrown for a loop – he had allowed himself to trust and be vulnerable, only to realize he didn’t know Finn at all. Or…did he? The author does a great job with the plausibility of how the men work through all of this. And they do… like the adults that they are. And with a fair amount of cloak and dagger, and James Bond type scenes thrown in to add to the mix! The chemistry between Michael and Finn is palpable. Their explorations with intimacy, as well as sex itself, are poignant and raw. There is a light BDSM flavor to some of the sex, all tastefully dealt with as an integral component of Finn’s nature.
This is not a fantasy story…yet it certainly exudes a magical charm. The village of Trowchester definitely has a glowing “second chances happen here” aura.
“But maybe Trowchester was a place where God listened.”
Beecroft’s writing style gets right to the guts of her character’s feelings and issues. Her prose is perfection. I don’t believe I skimmed over a single word in this story, to do so would be to risk missing something profound. I’m highly anticipating her next Trowchester story.