Blossom At The Mention of Your Name - Fiona Cooper

Ladymol's review:

How can you resist a book with a title like that? I couldnít.

This story is more than one book. It began with a perfect story, became another story, but that was perfect, too.

Gerth is a totally straight, up-and-coming twenty-seven year old executive who goes out one night with some mates for a spot of queer bashing. He ends up in a gay dance club where he sees Callum.† How can you describe Callum? Heís sunlight dancing on water. He is the water rippling in clear mountain streams. Heís fey, magical, whimsical, and beautiful, and Gerth crashes into love. To escape his feelings, Gerth gets plastered, but wakes up the next morning to find Callum has slipped his telephone number into his pocket.

The slow coming out of Gerth, with Callumís help is just a compulsive read. Calís magic slowly seeps over him, and the world opens up in a way heíd never imagined.

Iím a total sucker for romance, as any of my readers will attest. I didnít think I could wholly enjoy a book that had a different agenda. I can. This book is as magical at the end as it is at the beginning; itís just different. The book seems to shift from a story about finding yourself through someone else (Callum and Gerth) to being truly free and independent.† When Callum meets Gerth, heís been celibate for three years and living a make-believe world in his flat, which heís turned into a wonderland of paintings of nature and magical creatures. It seemed to me that his life had stopped, and he needed Gerth to bring him back to life. But you canít rely on other people to give you that inner spark. Through an eclectic cast of characters introduced at the end, Callum finds his own strength, and only then is he ripe for what life will throw at him. Iím desperate for a sequel to this novel, and hope that the author might consider one. Callum deserves it.

I highly recommend this book to you if you want to totally escape your own life for a while and dip into a touch of magic.†

Cerisaye's Review:

A gloriously titled novel (appropriately taken from the song ďMameĒ) thatís absolutely brilliant for about the first two thirds then it rather runs out of steam.† Donít let that put you off, however, as itís well worth reading for the better part.† The writing is wonderfully rich, with imagery that leaves you gasping.† You know exactly what the author wants you to understand about her characters, settings, etc.†

Itís all about love, relationships and lasting commitment.† Can the first rush of physical and emotional connection and sweet, sweaty passion withstand the unrelenting pressures of everyday life over the long term?

Gerth and Callum are polar opposites whose lives collide when Gerth and his mates visit a gay club for a spot of queer-baiting.† The book is set in Newcastle, which makes a refreshing change, and carries a local flavour that adds colour.† How will canny Geordie lads react to the news that one of their pals has fallen head-over-heels in love with a beautiful wispy waif whoís the epitome of camp?†

Gerth is a real man who wears denim, leather and clumpy boots, an ambitious young and upwardly mobile executive working for a local sportswear company.† He carries a chip on his shoulder about his humble council estate origins, and aspires to Armani and Versace to hide his working manís physique.

Callum is a New Age hippy, a self-confessed pansy, a fairy who dances as Queen Astarte of the Seven veils.† Callum doesnít give a toss about money, careers, or material possessions. Heís embraced an alternative lifestyle and manages quite well thank you very much.†† With no fixed employment or visible means of support, he lives happily in a tower block (his Ďeerie eyrieí) where he has created a haven of tranquillity in which he can flourish.† It wasnít always like that, however, as Callum has a troubled past, shared with best friend Wol.† Heís a survivor and surprisingly strong.

Gerth feels like Alice down the rabbit hole.† Heís always thought he was straight, and heís never met anyone quite like Callum before.† Now he pursues him, once he finds the card Callum inserted into his pocket when the two bump into each other in the toilets.† Callum is looking for Mr. Right, with whom he can settle down for a lifetime of ecstasy.

The chapter in which Callum introduces Gerth to the pleasures of gay sex is lyrical, intense and incredibly hot.† Unfortunately thatís the only remotely explicit part of the book. However its compelling and compassionate portrayal of two men trying to make a go of a monogamous relationship akin to heterosexual marriage makes an enjoyable read, a sweet gay romance.†

Thereís wit and humour aplenty.† Callum and Wol launch themselves as drag artistes and thatís lots of fun.† Callum does oddball things like putting a spell on his car rather than investing in an alarm.† He guides Gerth the Earthling through Fairyland, full of life and bubbling with happiness.† He loves his man enough to buy and cook him a T-bone steak even though heís vegetarian and enforces penance on himself to make amends.† Gerth struggles to hide his gay life from boss and work colleagues, increasingly under pressure as he climbs the corporate ladder.

The book has its flaws.† It races through years and fails to develop plot strands, like hints about Callumís unhappy love affair with Mr Heartbreak.†† To my great surprise, having loved the book so much I couldnít put it down, ultimately it was disappointing.† It goes off on a tangent I wasnít interested in, so I skimmed the final section.† For the most part itís stylish and clever, an effervescent cocktail, with a cast of likeable characters and sparkling dialogue. I wanted Gerth and Callum to make a go of it, and really cared what happened to them both.† I think you will too.

Published by Serpent's Tail. ISBN: 1852423994