Sam reviews ‘I Knew Him’ by Erastes. Published August 5th, 2014 by Lethe Press, 252 pages
This book was provided free of charge for an honest review by the author.
Why I read this book: I hadn’t had the opportunity to read a historical book before and wanted to see if it was something I would enjoy.
Synopsis: Harry George Alexander Bircham: Not necessarily an infamous name in the annals of gay fictional characters…yet. But readers of Erastes’ newest historical novel should prepare themselves for many pages of suspenseful intrigue as the miscreant Bircham, a man of Wildean excesses and humours, will do anything it takes to bend Fate to his will. And that sinister will is to keep the affections and attentions of another young English lad. If accidents, if murder, are necessary, then Bircham is just the villain. Or anti-hero, as he is quite the early twentieth century charmer.
This story takes place in England in the early 1900’s. Harry Bircham and Charles Holland attend Cambridge University. They have been roommates for several years and are also in an intimate relationship with each other. Harry is charming and intelligent but has a dark side that he keeps hidden. Charles is more of the quiet, brooding type. His mental stability is questionable.
With only a few days in the term left, both Charles and Harry are anxious to leave the university and go explore Paris during their summer vacation. At the last-minute Charles’s mother summons him home and Charles asks Harry to accompany him. Since their relationship isn’t out in the open, Harry has never met Charles’s family. But having such a strong compulsion to be with Charles he agrees to spend the summer in Somerset at Hellingers, Charles’s Family home. This is where the majority of the story takes place.
Eventually Charles learns that when he gave his consent to return home he wasn’t told the real reason his mother summoned him, once he does it makes their already strained relationship even more so. When this happens Harry goes into protective mode. He will do anything he has to in order to shield Charles from more heartache and betrayal even that means being manipulative and callous.
This Historical novel isn’t the typical M/M Romance, the intimate details of Charles and Harry’s relationship are extremely vague. The majority of the storyline is focused on what lengths Harry will go to keep Charles happy and a part of his life verses building the relationship they have togther. ‘I Knew Him’ is a suspenseful mystery that includes aspects of betrayal, violence and jealousy. As I was reading the first part of the book I felt like it was dragging on but it still left me intrigued enough to need find out where the author was taking it. About halfway through the book is where it started getting really good and more things were happening. The ending was not what I expected, it leaves the reader drawing their own conclusion of what may happen to Charles and Harry in the future. This is a standalone but leaves it open to if the author ever wanted to write more.
8/10 Pots of Gold
Erastes is the penname of a female author who lives in Norfolk, UK. She drew her inspiration to write historical fiction from works such as Gaywyck by Vincent Virga and the novels of Mary Renault. Erastes was the Director of the Erotic Authors Association for two years and is an active member of the Historical Novel Society. She is the moderator of Speak Its Name, an influential blog dedicated to gay historical fiction.
Erastes has been writing since 2003, and details of all her books and short stories can be found on her website.
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