Book Reviews — Autumn Reading: From Dark Fantasy to Gay & Lesbian Romance

book_velvet_tinyBy: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—

It’s time for stew and fresh baked rolls.  Enjoy your comfort food and curl up on your favorite reading chair, preferably by a sunny window or near a scented candle, with your dog or cat for these good reads.

Velvet by Xavier Axelson shows a gifted writer who gets to the point with fast moving, well-crafted dialogue of solidly developed main characters. King Killian is killed on the “fields of the north.” It’s a dark historical fantasy in a faraway kingdom with a strong Celtic, mystical feel.  The title refers to a special fabric the royal tailor, Virago, uses to make a garment for Prince Duir to wear at his coronation. The cloth is a metaphor for social and self-imposed barriers. The fabric represents one thing to Virago, another to Prince Duir, and another when the prince becomes the new sovereign. As the old saying goes, “power corrupts and it corrupts completely,” so suggests the king’s new garment. The friendship between Virago and Duir sours once the prince becomes sovereign. Virago takes comfort in the romantic friendship of Seton, “a musician in the court of an animal!” Seton, a self-described free man, forces the tailor into a life-changing awakening. Axelson’s work has the makings for a rich, enticing serial.

Lawfully Wedded Husband – How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family by Joel Derfner is a journey about getting book_lawfully_wedded_tinymarried in a world of social stigma and unsupportive cultural institutions. It’s also an individual perspective on life, love and family told with an understated Joan Rivers-like wit and sarcasm. It’s also a cerebral, very readable blend of politics, wisdom, personal journey, and social commentary. There is a romance here, but not one of the sappy, love at first sight kind. It involves growth, patience, persistence, and learning humility. It’s about discovery and defining and growing into the institution of marriage. Derfner suggests a possible way to change hearts and minds by having at least two positive interactions with a homophobe or someone opposed to marriage equality. With a voice a bit like a prophet, Derfner observes, “… we and the people we see as our enemies are the same, and that in this matter we all want exactly the same thing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s chocolate ice cream calling my name.”

The Indelible Heart by Marianne K. Martin continues from the author’s book Love in the Balance. This is a story of hate, love, anger, cultural ethics, and the difficulty in finding closure for Sharon when two lesbian book_heart_tinyfriends are murdered. She spirals into depression enhanced with alcohol abuse. Her relationship with partner Laura is derailed. Sharon finally rebuilds her life only to have personal demons resurface when the murderer, now dying, is considered for parole. Before she goes to a dark place of no return, a puppy named Abby keeps her from falling into the abyss. At the same time, Laura has moved back to the area to care for an aging parent. Sharon and Laura still have strong feelings for one another. Readers will find a powerful, sometimes raw, emotional depth in this book. The reader will empathize on different levels with the characters. Personally, I related to Laura and her challenges to forgive, find closure and move on while dealing with life’s other demands.

*Paul’s latest book,  The Vampire Benning Wentworth and the End of Times – the War Between Devils and Vampires is now available.

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