Mtsnow reviews The Affair of the Porcelain Dog (Ida Adler Book 1) written by Jess Faraday. Originally published by Bold Stroke Books. on June 14th, 2011. Released on Audible November 16th, 2012. Length is 9 hrs 6 min.
Why MtSnow reviewed this book: This audiobook has been in my library for awhile, but RGR is doing Award winning books this week. And, low and behold, I learned this one was a LAMBDA award winner. Well, geez. What took me so long!
Note: a copy of this audiobook was purchased at reviewer’s expense, having been in her library for months, but hidden in all the others that keep showing up. Glad I finally got to it! it was definitely worth every minute.
For Ira Adler, former rent-boy and present plaything of crime lord Cain Goddard, stealing back the statue from Goddard’s blackmailer should have been a doddle. But inside the statue is evidence that could put Goddard away for a long time under the sodomy laws, and everyone’s after it, including Ira’s bitter ex, Dr. Timothy Lazarus. No sooner does Ira have the porcelain dog in his hot little hands, than he loses it to a nimble-fingered prostitute.
As Ira’s search for the dog drags him back to the mean East End streets where he grew up, he discovers secrets about his own past, and about Goddard’s present business dealings, which make him question everything he thought he knew. An old friend turns up dead, and an old enemy proves himself a friend. Goddard is pressing Ira for a commitment, but every new discovery casts doubt on whether Ira can, in good conscience, remain with him.
In the end, Ira must choose between his hard-won life of luxury and standing against a grievous wrong.
Okay. So first things first. I am a hopeless romantic. And my first introduction into romance back in the day was with Victorian historical romance, so this one hit a soft spot with me. In saying that, by the time I finished this story, I came to realize it is much more in-depth and on the side of a historical story that follows our protagonist’s ambiguous choices. It is a suspenseful historical that only just so happens to have gay characters in it. Which means the romance? Not so much.
BUT. It is an EXCELLENT story. Very well written, and wonderfully engrossing to listen to. The narrator did a fantastic job of pulling me in, and differentiating everyone’s voices and personalities quite well. The writer, she definitely did her research. Nothing felt glossed over or token. Every detail just added to the overall story, and, well, let’s say it was very easy to feel the moodiness and dreariness of the environment that London seemed to be, back then.
There were many shady dealings and many times I was concerned about the moral character of many of the characters, INCLUDING Ira himself. Sometimes he felt quite shallow to me, and yet, at others I was able to see a glimmer of depth that surprised me.
This story was not black and white. There were many gray areas to be honest. But this is what made the story interesting. It made me kind of think ‘hmm. What would I do if…’. The only thing that kept it from being a perfect 10 for me was in fact, the lack of romance, even though I felt at least two different scenarios were setting up for it. The one resolution COMPLETELY disappointed me, and the other, when I thought there might be hope, even though I wasn’t too excited about it? Well it fell flat, too.
With the lack of a fulfilling romance, the most redeeming factor for me was that I was very much taken into this emotional journey with Ida. And I was even brought to tears at the bittersweetness of the ending of this one. I was forced to look up the story on Goodreads to see if there was another book, and thank goodness, I found out there are at least two more. I’m hoping they come out on audio!
Highly recommended for lovers of fantastic writing, a love of well-written AND researched historicals, and those that don’t mind a series that rides the thin line of moral ambiguity, heavy on the mystery, and light on the romance. This is a suspense series with a protagonist that goes on to other adventures, without necessarily having an HEA or even an HFN.
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About the Author
Jess Faraday is the author of the award-winning Ira Adler historical mysteries , the standalone steampunk adventure The Left Hand of Justice and a number of historical adventures in short story and novella form.
Her novel Fool’s Gold won a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Historical, and was a runner-up for Best Gay Novel. The previous year, Turnbull House was a runner-up for Best Gay Historical, and The Affair of the Porcelain Dog was both a Lambda Awards finalist, and won Honorable Mention for Best Novel of the Year from Speak Its Name.
She has edited several award-winning short story collections for Elm Books, including Death and a Cup of Tea (one of Foreword Review’s top Indie mysteries of 2015), Undeath and the Detective (Finalist for a Silver Falchion Award for Best Multi-Author Anthology), and Fae Love, which won an Aspen Gold Reader’s Choice Award.
You can read more about Jess and her books at http://www.jessfaraday.com