Equinox - Mel Keegan
This is the long-awaited sequel to Deathís Head, Mel Keeganís Science Fiction gay masterpiece. Itís a very necessary sequel, because youíll remember that at the end of Deathís Head, Stoney has been saved from Angel addiction by a mind-meld with his lover Jarret. The mind-meld gives them complete empathy which each other, something that is hardly explored before the first novel ends.
So, in Equinox, weíre back with the heroes, and their empathy is being put to the test by the NARC authorities: just how well can they read each other in dangerous situations? The boys put their empathy to the test in other and more fun ways at night. Keegan can write the most erotic, spine-tingling gay sex scenes, and when youíve got two gorgeous men joined physically and emotionally, you can imagine the impact!
This book is just about perfect for young men who want great space action, loads of explosions and technical detail, but who happens to want gay role models rather than the heterosexual norm. If only literature and film could be this generous all the time. Kevin and Stoney have no angst about their relationship, and neither does anyone else. This is a future world where who you choose to sleep with is the least of your worries.
With the newfound Hollywood interest in straight playing gay, I can really see this series making a fabulous movie.† Unlike Proulxís heroes, Ennis and Jack, Stone and Jarret are described as physically beautifulóturning heads, male and female, wherever they go. What a great opportunity for the young and beautiful of Hollywood to score a hit with a fast-paced action thriller with a gay theme. However, unlike Brokeback Mountain, these guys arenít unhappy and tragically doomed. Could Hollywood so readily accept happy and healthy, committed gay love?††
Do give this series a go, and if you have a young gay friend who isnít interested in the more soul-searching reads weíve reviewed, then this would make the perfect present.
Itís a dead cert if you liked Keeganís first NARC (Narcotics & Riot Control) novel youíll have to read this sequel- and you will love it, the same exciting brew of romance, adventure and eroticism set some 400 years in the future.† The story picks up where the last one left off, again centred on charismatic Captains Kevin Jarrat & Jerry Stone- joint commanders of spaceship Athena, and lovers.
Maybe there's none of the will they/won't they? tension that marked the earlier novel but EQUINOX more than compensates with its exploration of how two men combine romance and a demanding often dangerous job, committed professionals fighting the good fight and making love in snatched moments of bliss.
If you havenít read <a href="http://www.squashduck.com/ltd/reviews/death_head.htm">DEATHíS HEAD</a> you should do so before tackling this one because, though there is backstory you really need to read in sequence to get the most out of a story focused on the evolving relationship between Jarrat & Stone established in DEATH'S HEAD.†† NARC protocol is never to get involved, never fall in love; emotional ties cloud decision making and lead to errors of judgement.† Jarrat & Stone love each other but they also love what they do.†
*****Spoiler for DEATHíS HEAD*****
To save Stone from the fatal effects of addiction to hallugenogenic drug Angel given him on the job in DEATHíS HEAD, healer Harry Dell established an empathetic bond between the two.† Now department authorities are testing them to see if they are sufficiently stable to continue in command, and, perhaps more importantly, test the potential of such a connection in the field as a kind of weapon.†
Subjected to a gruelling round of tests and simulations by the project doctor who thinks empaths are unbalanced and dangerous, Jarrat & Stone are just about at breaking point when theyíre thrown back into the game they love: a dangerous assignment in the Zeus System to trace the connection that proves Equinox Industries is involved in the manufacture and sale of the Angel that is destroying the city of Elysium in a deadly corporate war and power grab.†
Itís an exciting and deliciously sexy Sci Fi action adventure/romance novel, written with Keeganís usual flair for narrative and characterisation.† I read the book voraciously unable to tear myself away from the world Keegan creates so well.† Sometimes the detail gets in the way when all you want is to find out what happens next but some readers enjoy all that technical stuff- and hey, Jarrat & Stone are together more in this story, finding plenty of time to deepen their bond on a physical level with all sensations heightened to mind-blowing degree by empathy.† I must say Keegan writes very satisfying sex scenes!
Itís the personal angle I liked best, more than battlefield engagements and spaceship dogfights.† We find out more about Jerry Stoneís past. By coincidence local Tac (paramilitary police) leader is Vic Duggan, an old teacher of Stoneís he is happy to work with because he is the best and they need all the help they can get.† Jarratt & Stone must work out their relationship on the job- itís very early days as a couple- under so much pressure itís not easy.†
Macho men Jarrat & Stone have a love so strong the prospect of loss is a serious threat to emotional stability.† Kevin is afraid Stone will get hurt when he goes undercover like HE did last time in DEATHíS HEAD, and Stone is having deeply disturbing dreams in a kind of post-traumatic shock after his nightmarish experiences with Angel.† Empathy makes great sex but not so good when they must share each otherís fears & anxieties, under scrutiny by the department.
Can they both hold it together?† The threat they face will take everything they have to beat.† In the end itís down to skill, luck and each other.† Equinox has compromised security so Jarratt & Stoneís unique bond is maybe their only hope to bring down the corporation.† With help from beautiful hustler Jesse they desperately search for proof to justify NARC involvement in the fight to save Elysium and defeat evil Equinox industries.† Itís page-turning heart-in-mouth action all the way.
Jarrat & Stone are just the kind of pairing I like best, tough macho men yet not afraid to love each other in a world where that love is regarded as perfectly natural even encouraged, like Theban Band warriors.†† I canít wait to read #3, SCORPIO!