Dana reviews Oliver & Jack: At Lodgings in Lyme (Jack & Oliver book 2) by Christina E. Pilz (Published by Blue Rain Press, June 22, 2015, 448 pages)
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
To see the GRL guest post from Christina E. Pilz and participate in the giveaway click here
After Oliver Twist commits murder to protect Jack Dawkins (The Artful Dodger), both must flee London’s familiar but dangerous environs for safety elsewhere. Together they travel to Lyme Regis in the hopes of finding Oliver’s family. Along the way, Jack becomes gravely ill and Oliver is forced to perform manual labor to pay for the doctor’s bills.
While Oliver struggles to balance his need for respectability with his growing love for Jack, Jack becomes disenchanted with the staid nature of village life and his inability to practice his trade. But in spite of their personal struggles, and in the face of dire circumstances, they discover the depth of their love for each other.
Oliver & Jack is book 2 in a series and the first book, Fagin’s Boy: The Further Particulars of a Parish Boy’s Progress, should be read first. Fagin’s Boy takes place about 5 years or so after Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens ends. I have not read Oliver Twist or seen the movie, not even the musical. However, the author does do a very thorough job setting up the story so that you don’t feel lost reading this series. It did make the first book a little slow going, but a surprising ending leaves Oliver and Jack Dawkins, aka The Artful Dodger, on the run from the police and wanted for murder.
This book is a bit more exciting as they travel to the town where Oliver’s mom was born, looking for some connection and possibly somewhere to stay. Things do get a bit rougher when Jack becomes ill and they are forced to rely on the good Christian servants of a wealthy household outside the town of Lyme. The servants seem a bit judgmental and critical belying their Christian goodness, and Oliver has to work to pay back their hospitality.
Jack is a unapologetic character that I really liked because of his honesty about who he is. He knows he’s not a fine gentleman and he doesn’t believe in acting like one in order to fit in. Oliver who had been trying to have a simple, honest life is no longer a gentleman though he still carries the trappings of propriety and it gives him a bit of a superiority complex over Jack. It causes trouble between them, and Oliver’s desire to take care of Jack without telling him the truth of the so-called charity they receive doesn’t help them. The extreme bouts of temper that Oliver displayed in Fagin’s Boy, rear up in this book as well and we see how protective he feels about Jack.
This story is on the longer side at 448 pages and plenty happens while they stay on at the house in Lyme. Their relationship does grow, but to call their romance a slow burn is almost an understatement. It appears to me that Oliver has never really quite thought about anything sexual in his life regarding men or women. It might be a result of his own church-going upbringing or just all the troubles he has seen by the young age of 17 or 18. But he discovers how much he needs Jack, who appears to have traumatic experiences in his own past regarding sex. The pace of this story is slow and steady with characters that I really like. It also has a surprise ending that brings Oliver face to face with the worst parts of his past and I really want to read the next book of this series.