No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Thursday, November 24, 2016

2016/60: Wicked Gentlemen -- Ginn Hale

When I had been very young, I had snuck up from Hells Below to drift up into the open night. I had thought that it was my kingdom. For a few weeks I had thought that perhaps I was the secret child of an angel. I had floated up into the frigid mists of clouds and imagined that the moon, shining above me, was my promised halo.

It's three hundred years since the Covenant of Redemption, which pardoned Lucifer's angels and gave them the promise of salvation for themselves and their descendants. Belimai Sykes is one such descendant -- 'Prodigal', those with demon blood are termed -- and has achieved an uneasy equilibrium between his second-class status as a Prodigal and his (intermittent) career as an investigator. Mostly, he spends his time alone in his room, high on ophorium and regret. He is a person with a past.

Into his present comes Captain William Harper of the Inquisition, a quasi-religious order responsible for policing the city of Crowncross. He, and his brother-in-law Dr Talbott, have a case for Sykes: but Sykes' help does not come cheap.

Wicked Gentlemen comprises two linked novellas, one from Sykes' point of view and one from Harper's. Sykes' voice is the more appealing, because he has a richer sensorium and a darker past, but Harper's perception of him is intriguing.

Class, religion, the thin veneer of respectability: Ginn Hale has created a very interesting setting for this M/M romance. The characters are three-dimensional, and though the plot is full of romance tropes -- not least 'opposites attract!' -- the setting confers novelty on them.

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