Dana reviews The Shooting Season (Resurrectionist Book 1) by Isobel Starling (Published by Decent Fellows Press, November 22, 2019, 175 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
A brand new historical M/M novella from award-winning author Isobel Starling.
Monday 20th December 1897.
Mr. Benedict Hannan, the owner of Hannan’s Auction House in Fitzrovia, receives a letter inviting him to attend the sale of a private collection of Fine Art and antiquities belonging to the Late Lord Percival Ardmillan. Ardmillan is known to Benedict, or rather his son Euan is, and so, Benedict hurriedly travels to the West Highlands to fulfill his dream of owning a particular item from the Lord’s collection—something that he has coveted for thirty years.
In Scotland, Benedict meets the collectors who were invited to bid in the auction. He discovers that the auction of the private collection is not as straightforward as he had imagined.
Forced to come to terms with his past and present desires, Benedict finds himself in the thrall of a mysterious traveler and in turn, gets more than he bargained for this Christmas!
I am a big fan of this author’s Shatterproof Bond series so I’m always eager to read and review the author’s other works. The author definitely changes things up among her different series, and this is no exception. In this book we are taken back in time to the end of the 19th century. In a historical novel it is always so much harder for a character to be gay. Despite the strides we still need to make in the present, in most countries it is not a crime and more people accept it than not. In 1897, a man only has to see how Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for homosexuality to know they have to keep their true selves hidden.
This is true for the main character of this story, Benedict Hannan. In a romance, there are usually two main characters, but in this book, I feel like there is really only one. The story is told from Ben’s point of view and while there is a possibility for a romance, this story largely has to do with Ben’s acceptance of himself. The title “The Shooting Season” refers to a time when Ben stayed with Euan Ardmillan and the two young men gave into their desires for one another. Many years later, now, Euan’s father has passed away and Benedict is invited to an auction of his collection of art and artifacts. Only once there, Ben realizes that he has been quite misled.
Ever since his brief love affair with Euan, Ben has been very repressed. He turned to God to forget and pray away his homosexuality and avoids physical contact with others so his desires aren’t inflamed. He is afraid of breaking laws of country and religion by being himself. I do feel bad for him, to a certain extent. I know society has told him what he is is wrong, but to see him pull away from others and dislike himself, it is also frustrating. Ben is now 50 years old and has no one to care about.
After arriving at Ardmillan’s estate it seems that Euan might try to rekindle his boyhood romance with Ben but he is hiding things from Ben that one of the guests takes the liberty to reveal. Sebastian Cavell is a man of many names and disguises. He has watched Ben for awhile to measure his character and he seeks to free Ben from his self-imposed cage. While both Euan and Sebastian play a part in Ben’s shame of himself and his eventual acceptance, the story is left open-ended. There was a bit of mystery to the story, though it is subtle. And at the end, I was still left with questions. What is Sebastian’s end game and is there any magic to the staff that Ben had hoped to purchase from Euan? Will Ben and Sebastian find a HEA? Because he does seem to be a better fit for Ben than Euan is. It does say “to be continued” at the end, but I am hoping for the best and can’t wait to read the next book in this series(?) I’m not sure what to call it because there is no series name, but I can and do recommend this book.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Inspiration strikes at the strangest of times.
Born in Germany to British/Irish parents, I spent most of my childhood traveling. When I eventually found roots I went to art school and had a twenty-year professional career making art in Dublin, Ireland. I relocated to the UK in 2010 and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, I started to write and found I loved it more than making art. I now live in York, North Yorkshire.