Tavish MacIntyre and Iain Munro have been lovers for years, but now they no longer have the excuse of ‘boyish fancy’ if they are caught; for loving another man in 16th century Scotland is considered a sin against God. Tavish is being groomed as the next Laird of Creachann-Dubh, but when it comes to modest, farm-boy Iain, he has no concern for obstacles of rank or religion. Iain, on the other hand, is more practical. He worries constantly about being caught, and despite the pain it causes them both, tries to stay away. Therein lays the best part of the story – Tavish’s determination to be with Iain and keep him close.
The narrative is peppered with flashbacks from when they first fell in love, their stolen moments, and their relationship up until the present day. This sounds potentially jarring but the flow between tenses was seamless. It also switches perspective between the two men, so we as readers get a deeper understanding of their different backgrounds, and the expectations placed on both by their families.
When I first started reading, I was immediately distracted by the Scottish brogue and turn of phrase that the characters spoke with. This kind of thing can be jarring and usually stops me from getting into the story. Luckily though, Gormley did a good job with it. After my initial distaste, the lingo just became a means by which the reader could become involved in the time period.
Though I liked their romance, and appreciated the struggles they faced down in order to be together, the couple’s intimate scenes were a huge turn off. The whole bent over a bale of hay thing doesn’t really do it for me, and when they were together, it just seemed like a couple of guys blowing their loads all over the place. I get that the whole finding your sexuality thing can be sweet, especially since they’re each other’s firsts, but the author didn’t exactly capitalize on that. It just came across as awkward – not something I was expecting in a story which promises ‘romance’. That aside, there were some beautiful moments. I especially loved Tavish’s anguish when he thinks that Iain has been unfaithful. His reaction really speaks for the depth of his love.
What draws me to historical m/m romance is that there is such a stigma about two men being involved – it’s a ready-made obstacle that the characters need to overcome to be together. This story is a great example of this – the way that the situation is resolved is not perfect but it was satisfying. Don’t let the vernacular distract you, this story is worth the read. It’s a short one, so you really have nothing to lose.
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