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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Year Without a Summer by GS Wiley

The Year Without a Summer by GS Wiley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (60 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Lieutenant Robert Pierce of the Royal Navy was raised in the shadow of his father, a great admiral, and has spent his life on the high seas fighting the ships of Napoelon Bonaparte. When he loses a leg in battle and is confined to land, Robert is devastated. Taken in by his sister Maria, Robert faces the infamously cold, wet summer of 1816 trying to adjust to his new life. It's made all the gloomier by his worry for his best friend and lover, Lieutenant John Burgess, who is still at sea... until a visitor brings a bright ray of sunshine into Robert's overcast life.

When life seems at its bleakest, a sudden visit gives Robert hope. Robert is struggling with the constant rain and chilly weather that seem to be endless. Recovering from an injury that took Robert’s left leg and his military career, he wonders what possible life he can have. Although his kind sister attempts to bring him back to life, Robert longs for the best friend and lover still at sea and an unexpected visit gives Robert some much-needed hope.

This beautifully written and moving story is as romantic as it is bittersweet. Robert is a haunting character as he struggles to find his place in the world without his military career and no longer able to indulge his love of the sea. Robert’s struggle is incredibly touching as he remembers how he and John first met, became physical, and ultimately fell in love. Now Robert wonders what will become of their love, if John will move on or remember Robert at all. Likewise the reader is left to wonder what will happen between the two even as their love story is given piece by piece.

Mostly told in flashbacks, Robert remembers his past and wonders about his future. The tone is sweet but with an air of tragedy. The characters are truly wonderful and show a side of romance that is often overlooked or ignored. Here the story is not afraid to show despair, unhappiness, and above all an uncertain future. Robert is given no clear cut happy ending nor does he get to ride off into the sunset with the love of his life. Instead he wonders what will happen to his love with John, if it can survive and more importantly if Robert can survive without it. The questions are honest and deeply emotional, poignant in an incredibly romantic way.

Although the story doesn’t have a traditional happy ending, there is a thread of hope wound through the entire story. It’s not always obvious and the author gives glimpses only to hide them again but the ending is hopeful. For those readers that enjoy romance stories off the beaten path and a little bittersweet, The Year Without a Summer completely delivers. It may not have a happy ever after right now, but it is filled with romance, love, and hope.

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