Last week I was enthusing abut Mongrel by K Z Snow [and its sequel, Merman, which is just as good and follows some of the same characters]. This week I would like to recommend a historical novel set in a place I don’t think I’ve ever seen depicted in a LGBT themed romance unless there are vampires – Wallachia – with a cover that’s just to die for. I think it’s inspired by Ivan Bilibin, a favourite artist.
The Crimson Outlaw by Alex Beecroft, concerns a teenaged nobleman, Vali Florescu, who disrupts his sister’s arranged wedding in the hope that he’ll be able to help her to escape. Vali’s naive idealism doesn’t sit well with his hard headed father, Wadim, and he can see nothing to do but flee into the forest. He’s barely out of sight of the castle before he’s in trouble again, this time falling into the arms of the Crimson Outlaw, who ticks all the boxes on Vali’s fantasy list. The outlaw, red-headed Mihai Roscat,is delighted to get his hands on Vali because he has long had a hatred of the Florescu family and intends to hold him hostage and get his revenge on Vali’s father. However, very little in this story goes as planned.
This is a much sexier story than Ms Beecroft normally pens, but it works very well in the context of a horny and frustrated teenager finally getting off the leash. But the romance content complements the plot rather than overwhelming it, as happens so often in M/M romance. I really enjoyed that nobody was too good or too bad – lots of shades of grey – the action was exciting and the depiction of the period and location were cinematically satisfying.