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January 27, 2016 by kitmoss

25Irish Winter

John Simpson

I like M/M romance and the history of Irish rebellion, so as I noted in Goodreads, what’s not to love?

Iam meets Devlin when an act of British brutality drives him to join the IRA.  Devlin is a street smart experienced fellow, and though at first neither knows the other is attracted to him, Devlin takes the initiative and they begin their sexual relationship, of course on the sly.  Iam does not know that Dev has turned tricks to survive.  Ian, the more sensitive, takes a role as a medic with the local IRA brigade, which helps him accept the violence of his involvement.  At the same time, the British take one action after another that further alienates him.  The story runs along two tracks, the evolution of the 1919-1924 fight for Irish independence and the developing relationship between the two young men.  Will they be able to survive the violence and commit to a lifelong love?

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this otherwise pretty average M/M erotic romance is how much actual history made it into the sex story.  The events in which Ian and Dev become involved are all real events, culminating in the assassinations of British intelligence officers in Dublin and the massacre of attendees at a major Irish football game the same day.  The young men’s lives are fraught with poverty, hunger and danger in this very black time in Irish history.

Ian and Dev are remarkably sanguine about being gay in a time and place where exposure could be fatal, officially or through vigilante action.  They do not seem to worry about sinning, and there are a couple love scenes where I felt like hissing “Quiet down!” Ultimately this is quite possible, so I may be imposing my own beliefs on the fictional situation. Where I feel justified in expressing doubt is in the abruptness of the ending which leaves the reader wondering what happened when the young men achieved their ultimate goal.

As characters Dev and Ian are mostly unremarkable, tend to wisecrack a great deal, but the love scenes are intense and sincere.  They are, at the very least, likable.

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