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Friday, July 15, 2011

House of Mirrors by Bonnie Dee, Summer Devon

House of Mirrors by Bonnie Dee, Summer Devon
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (170 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Driven from his family when his sexuality is exposed, Jonah discovers drama, passion, and intrigue in a traveling carnival--and in the enigmatic owner, Rafe Grimstone. The preacher’s son and the lord who’s rejected his former life in England feel the heat of attraction from the moment they meet. Open-hearted Jonah is willing to risk hellfire and damnation for brief moments of pleasure with Rafe, but the older man is frozen in a past he can’t escape no matter how far he runs.

As Rafe struggles to choose between responsibilities of his present and his past, mysterious accidents assail the close-knit community of the carnival. Will the perpetrator be revealed before the traveling show is ruined, and will Rafe finally reveal his true self to Jonah or continue to mask his identity like the changing images in a house of mirrors?

Running away to the circus may seem like an ideal escape but Jonah soon finds out it’s not all glamour and lights. In 1902, preacher’s son Jonah runs away to hopefully join the traveling carnival. With his old life ripped away Jonah seeks solace among the misfits and outcasts that make up the carnival. Little did he know that his attraction to the handsome and mysterious owner Rafe would end up changing both their lives forever.

House of Mirrors is a steamy hot historical romance set amidst the carnival backdrop. The characters fairly leap off the page with unique style and verve. The carnival setting is really the star here as both the glitz and the run down shame are shown. There have been TV shows and a plethora of books that talk about traveling carnivals back in the early 1900’s and this novel evokes those images from the beginning; the dusty trail, broken wagons, quick tricks of the eye or tongue that seem much more magical under the big top but seem almost tawdry in the light of day. The close family nature of the various members is also shown as transient and interchangeable.

While the setting was enough to catch and hold my attention, the various characters stole my heart. From the quiet gentle giant to the prickly animal trainer, the surly drunk and even the mysterious owner all of these combine to give a fully three dimensional picture. The romance between Jonah and Rafe is nice but mostly shown through the sex scenes. And there are a lot of sex scenes in the book. The development of the emotional part of the relationship is nicely shown in internal thoughts but they’re usually having sex almost all the time Rafe and Jonah are physically together in a scene. So you have to be willing to accept that their physical relationship is dynamic and hot enough to spark and emotional attachment.

The ending is a slight non-ending as it drags on a bit with an exaggerated ease to all their problems. It’s a tidy, neat ending but it’s perhaps the weakest part of the whole story. It’s too easy and takes too long to get to that point. Also it would have been nice to see more of Rafe and Jonah together outside of sex. However these are minor issues in a story filled with imagination and wonder. The eye catching setting is wonderful and the story is interesting. It may not be a story I’d read again but it’s an easy one to recommend.

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