October 10, 2016 by kitmoss
An M/M Romance by Erastes
David and Jonathan come together at a time in history when Englishmen struggled for the very rulership of the country. The land of the Wars of the Roses and earlier contention was not unfamiliar with rival claimants to the throne, but this time it was an entire overturn of tradition. The followers of Oliver Cromwell’s Puritans and the cavaliers under King Charles I duked it out over the “divine right of kings” and a new severe religious dominance. On opposite sides of this conflict our young lovers play their personal drama as they struggle simply to survive.
David is the angel-faced son of a blacksmith who prefers to while his way walking through the meadows or resting by the river. Jonathan is apprenticed to David’s father and exemplifies every virtue David lacks. David starts to refer to Jonathan as “my Puritan” in reference to the latter’s family’s beliefs. Puritan or not, Jonathan takes very little convincing when the gorgeous David, introduced to “the love that dare not speak its name” by a dashing royalist soldier, Tobias, turns his newfound sexuality on him. David, an inveterate liar, has no leg to stand on when he is falsely accused of getting a girl pregnant. Jonathan does not believe his denials, and David angrily leaves to join the King’s army.
The stories of the two boys’ lives diverge. David runs across Tobias’s sometime lover and finds out what it is like to be on the wrong end of a faithless relationship. When the royalist forces take a terrible defeat, Tobias, who has appeared seemingly out of nowhere, helps David escape to London where they can live incognito. Their sexual attachment blossoms into more as they fight to avoid detection by the new government. In the meantime Jonathan has been pressed into service with Cromwell’s forces. He and David have a fateful encounter after which Jonathan is convinced his former lover tried to kill him. Bitter, he hits the road and gets mixed up with a sadistic religious fanatic who tries to make him see David as a tool of the devil while brutally using Jonathan sexually himself. Will these two, David and Jonathan, find each other again someday and understand the reality of their lives?
The history in this M/M romance is fascinating. Unlike too many sweeping historical dramas that try to encompass every aspect of the events of the day, Transgressions focuses on the immediate for two compelling but not exalted characters. We watch the two boys grow into men during a period where they cannot avoid taking sides more profound than Englishmen have had to in their history. One king or another may have had little impact on most people’s daily lives, but the new government under Cromwell restricts personal freedom with an iron hand. At the heart of the relationship, David and Jonathan must try to live their lives in a climate of severe and fanatical sexual repression. How they manage or don’t manage is a theme of this compelling novel.
The characters in general are neither complex nor subtle. They have their strengths and weaknesses, but it is hard to identify the nature of their struggles to come to balance. Perhaps the major deficit in Transgressions is that the resolution comes along abruptly without much development. After reading of intense and often brutal struggles for each of the young men, in only a few pages everything comes to an end, though arguably not a completely satisfying end. I wanted to see more of how Jonathan in particular resolved his conflicts and how David played a part in that. Instead a poem had to suffice.
Erastes is a skilled novelist, telling a story quite enjoyably. It was nice, this being the third of her books I have read, to see a relationship not of men separated by class, age and wealth. Her sexually explicit scenes are both hot and appropriate in revealing aspects of individual characters. The history alone makes this novel great to read, but the personal love story will keep a reader glued to the pages as well.