Erryn and Dana review ‘The Gentleman’s Madness’ by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee. This book was released by the author on March 27, 2017, and is 246 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Mark James. It was released on March 27, 2019, and is 6 hrs and 16 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why Erryn read this book: I haven’t listened to a historical for a while.
Why Dana read this book: I have enjoyed listening to books by these two authors in the past and thought the blurb of this one was definitely intriguing.
Two men imprisoned. One in body, the other in mind.
Caught in the throes of passion with another man, scholar John Gilliam agrees to asylum treatment for perversion at the request of his worried parents. He intends to fake a cure then return to his normal life, but an attack on his person leads him down a darker path.
Transferred to another facility, he is denied any devices by which he might harm himself – even books and writing materials. Half crazed by isolation John finds an unexpected friend in his caretaker, Sam Tully.
Tully feels sorry for the patient everyone calls “the professor”, but he must keep his head down and perform his duties. His family relies on his earnings. He refuses to acknowledge the stirring of excitement inside him every time he is in Gilliam’s presence. Thirst for the knowledge the scholar offers wars with the carnal hunger he must deny.
In John’s small cell, learning and mental freedom blossom as the two forge a friendship. Forbidden attraction evolves into physical action. But in the asylum there is more than curative treatment taking place. The pair uncover a terrible secret and must fight not only for their freedom but their very lives.
A Rainbow Award winner.
I’m always reticent of tackling books that deal with mental illness. A little too close to home sometimes. As I embarked on the journey of reading this book, though, it quickly became apparent that the ‘madness’ was not anything that would qualify as a mental illness today. That reassured me. And left me wondering how does one cope being in a mental institution when one is not mentally ill?
John Gilliam has such a quandary. His family has sent him to a facility for his ‘illness’ to be treated. Perversions are all in the eye of the beholder and thank God we no longer ‘treat’ people who are gay. John understands he has no control over who he is attracted to and since his goal is to get out of the institution, all he has to do is stay away from other men. Or, more precisely, being attracted to other men.
Sam Tully believes himself a simple man. He used to work on the docks until an injury sidelined him. He’s managed to become an attendant at an asylum and, with his gentle nature, he is a favorite amongst the patients. He is a quiet man who keeps to himself until he meets John, known as The Professor. There is an interesting dynamic going on between the two men – Tully understands John is considered a deviant, but also sees a learned man. John sees a kind man who yearns to know more, despite believing himself simple. Their shared exploration of learning leads to an increased bond. Slowly, they let down their guard and begin to care for each other.
The path to love isn’t simple and every interaction is scrutinized. Yet still, they find ways of expressing their affection. Everything comes to a head and just when things could go very wrong, things take an unexpected turn. The ending gave me great hope.
I don’t listen to many historical novels and the premise of this one definitely had me intrigued. I mean, how are two men supposed to find a happy ending? But they did back then and they did in this story.
Mark James is a delightful narrator and he does a wonderful job with this story. This was a treasure of a book that I really enjoyed.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Even though we could be further in the fight for equality for LGBT people in the present day, we have made big strides in how gay and lesbian people are treated by society. Homosexuality was once a offence worthy of jail or the sanitarium. The fear of getting caught in that day in age has always added an element of nervousness to reading or listening to historical mm romance. Sometimes it seemed like there could only be HFN (Happy For Now) endings because there was always something hanging over the couple and the inability to have a public romance.
In The Gentleman’s Madness, the worst has already happened. John has been committed after being caught with another man. His first stint in a mental health facility was going well until he was attacked by a guard and was transferred to another hospital/prison. The “treatments” for his “affliction” obviously aren’t effective but John tries to pretend. The doctor in charge might have started off with good intentions but his need to learn and his greed for the patient’s money leads to keeping patients locked up for longer periods of time than necessary. John can’t even talk to his father without supervision to prevent him from contradicting the doctors orders for more time inside. It does seem rather hopeless, but thank goodness for Tully.
Tully is an amazing character who works at the hospital in order to support his father. Tully is rather large and used to work a more strenuous job on the docks until injury made him seek work elsewhere. He still has the strength to help take care of the patients in the mental hospital. It wouldn’t seem likely at first glance, but Tully is a caregiver at heart. He is able to calm those who really do have mental illness and he has empathy for the scholarly man who isn’t allowed to write or learn while being kept locked up. He has an amazing capacity for caring and even though he isn’t the most educated man, he knows what is right and wrong and he helps John feel just a little bit more human while he is in his care.
I found the first sentence in the blurb interesting. It is a fitting thought, but as I considered it when I sat down to write my review, I wondered which was which and thought I should mention it. At first, it seems clear that John is the one imprisoned bodily and therefore Tully must be imprisoned in his mind. With more consideration I think it might be opposite. Yes, John is physically captive, and yes, he has quite a bit of knowledge in his head. His upbringing afforded him the best education. However, his thirst for knowledge has kept him from finding someone he not only is attracted to, but who he can share thoughts with and meld minds with. There is a part of him that I consider trapped by his own mind. I don’t know if I consider Tully trapped by his mind. He hasn’t had the opportunity to learn as much or the kind of things John has, but that doesn’t necessarily makes him imprisoned. But he has held himself back bodily from being with someone he can care about. I don’t know if I am making sense, but it was a thought I needed to get out.
I do love a book that makes me think the way this book did. I loved the romance and the character development as the two learned different things from each other, making them equal even though there was an imbalance in power between them as patient and free man, and in social class as well. There is also a bit of action as the characters find out some secrets about the doctor and the facility. And with all the complications that tried to stop these two guys from having a relationship, there is still a really good ending and I was so happy I had the chance to listen to and review this book. On that note let me mention that the narration on this book was excellent. This is the first time I have listened to this narrator but it won’t be my last.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Summer Devon is the pen name writer Kate Rothwell often uses. Whether the characters are male or female, human or dragon, her books are always romance.
You can visit her facebook page, where there’s a sign up form for a newsletter (she’ll only send out newsletters when there’s a new Summer Devon or Kate Rothwell release and she will never ever sell your name to anyone).
Her blog is available here.
She also has a blog with Bonnie Dee, a frequent co-author. It’s mostly just announcements, but we might do good give-aways on occasion.
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.