Dana reviews the audiobook of The Tutor by Bonnie Dee (Published July 21, 2015,185 pages. Audiobook released October 16, 2016, 7 hrs 30 min length. Narrated by Ruri Carter.)
Why I read this: I picked up this audiobook on my own, without the intent of reviewing. However, aspects of this book seem perfect for the month of October and the Halloween theme.
Gothic romance with a twist.
Elements of The Sound of Music, The Enchanted Garden, Jane Eyre, and “true” ghost hunting shows make this story feel familiar. Gay love makes it unique.
Seeing an ad for a position at a Yorkshire estate, typesetter Graham Cowrie decides to make an upward career move by passing himself off as a tutor. How hard can it be to teach a few subjects to a pair of nine-year-old boys? But on his arrival at the ancient house, he finds the staff creepy, the twins odd, and the widowed master temporarily absent.
His first meeting with brooding, stern, but oh-so-attractive Sir Richard doesn’t go well, but with no other prospects vying for the teaching position, Graham manages to keep it. His mission soon becomes clear: break down the walls of reserve both father and sons have erected, and attempt to bridge the gap between them.
But strange sounds, sights, and experiences keep Graham on edge until he finally admits the Hall is haunted by two entities with very different agendas. Graham works to appease one and combat the other, while protecting the broken family he’s grown to care for.
The narrator – Ruri Carter is a new narrator for me. I thought the tone of his voice was very pleasant and his accent was perfect for this novel set in historical England. I would definitely listen to more from him.
The story – I did read the blurb before getting this book, but somehow my mind must have skipped over the part about haunting, because I was surprised when ghosts came into play. I was surprised in a good way. What drew me to the book was the historical aspect of the story. Even though the world still has ways to go on total acceptance of LGBT people and rights, it is a lot better than in the past when you might be jailed, hung, or sent to a sanitarium for being gay. At least in most countries. So for me, there is even more of a forbidden love story when m/m romance is set in the past. I must admit to being a big fan of forbidden/starcrossed love.
The story starts out with deception as Graham takes a job as a tutor on false pretenses. I’d say the boys are typical boys. Playing pranks and being disobedient to try and drive off this stranger in their home. But they have some darkness and sadness in their past. One of the boys doesn’t speak because of what happened. As time goes by, Graham’s unique way of teaching gets through to them and as they defrost a bit, he begins to care about them a lot. I was quite impressed by his techniques since he wasn’t working from experience.
Sir Richard, the boys’ father, was not an immediately appealing character. He is more affected by the events in their past. The pain over his wife’s death, hiding his true inclinations, and travelling for business have left him closed off. He is practically a stranger to his children. Not that they are yearning to be close to him. They seem to fear him. But that doesn’t stop Graham from being attracted to him. Sir Richard seems to feel an attraction too. It does seem like there are very many obstacles in the way, though. The children, the staff, Sir Richard’s guilt, and ghosts.
I really enjoyed the ghostly part of the story. There is definitely an evil force working on the inhabitants of the manor. It creates anger, sadness, and complete desolation. Graham experiences it but he’s not the only one. In the present and in the past, it has affected others. There is a particularly creepy part that I don’t want to ruin. But it felt like an “Exorcist” moment. I was chilled and thrilled by what happens in this book. There is also another presence. This one much lighter and only Graham seems to sense it. I loved this spirit and what she meant to the story as well.
I definitely recommend this audiobook/book. If you aren’t a big fan of horror or ghost stories, this one isn’t terribly scary just chilling enough to be exciting. It’s romance is sweet and it has a perfect ending.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
I began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, I was the designated ghost tale teller. I still have a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.
I enjoy dabbling in many genres. Whether you’re a fan of contemporary historical or fantasy romance, you’ll find something to enjoy among my books. I’m interested in flawed, often damaged, people who find the fulfillment they seek in one another. To stay informed about new releases, please sign up for my newsletter. You can join my street team at FB. Learn more about my backlist at http://bonniedee.com and find me on FB and Twitter @Bonnie_Dee.