Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped has long been considered a masterpiece of high adventure. In The Low Road, James Lear reinvents this classic as a satirical, queer, coming-of-age story.
In 1750 Scotland, young Charles Gordon reaches adulthood ignorant of his family's heroic past in the Jacobite Rebellion. He sets out to discover the truth about his father, but instead is kidnapped by mercenaries and sold into slavery as the plaything of a group of corrupt military officials. But Charlie's talents, in and out of bed, win him powerful friends as well as dangerous foes. The false priest, Lebecque, violent Captain Robert, depraved General Wilmott all contribute to Charlie's 'education'. Eventually leading a makeshift army of sex-crazed layabouts, Charlie faces the might of the English forces. Will he triumph, or is it better to retreat to the safety of his sybaritic lifestyle?
James Lear expertly interweaves spies and counterspies, scheming servants and sadistic captains, tavern trysts and prison orgies, into this delightfully erotic work that can take its place alongside his acclaimed novels The Back Passage and Hot Valley.
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Rollicking Riotous Adventure-Comedy of Profligacy
No! It is a idle down time amusement thing. The M/M sense are frequent and a bit repetitive. It is easy to put down and pick back up again.
The audio version of this book has the charm of a gifted narrator, Mark Bachman. He successfully mimics a Scottish brogue and well as French and English accents. The material is a bit farcical, and Mark keeps the tone light and playful. His voice has that deep rich resonance and with this material; it will melt you socks off. James Lear was fortunate to get this narrator.
The Low Road is the first James Lear M/M genre novels I have reviewed. It has solid structure, solid plot, and devices used (the love letters come to mind) are clever. It made me wonder; who is James Lear?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Lear was born with the name Rupert Smith in 1960 in Washington DC [Not to be confused with General Sir Rupert Anthony Smith, the noted military author, born in 1943]; Lear grew up in Surrey and moved to London in 1978 where he still lives. After a few years in an academic career, which really wasn’t his cup of tea, he got into journalism where he stayed for over 20 years, writing for a wide variety of dailies, weeklies and monthlies in the UK and elsewhere. He still does bits and pieces, but now fiction is his full-time job. He also writes under the name James Lear (M/M erotica) and Rupert James (blockbuster chick type, bodice ripper, stuff like “Fly on the Wall”, “Silk” and “Step Sisters”).
BACK TO THE BOOK:
Getting back to this offering by Mr. Lear; for my tastes, the M/M action is a bit over the top like any good farce. It is more like a sporting marathon where the characters collapse after being stuffed, stretched, poked, prodded, abused, and humiliated only to pop up, fresh as a daisy, and be ready for more within hours of a maximum assault on his person. With this much exposure the innocent good-hearted Charlie Gordon will be left with no more sensitivity then the inside of an old leather army boot; if he lives at all. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fun M/M karma sutra like variety exorcise of the imagination. However, no one but a masochist could endure these scenes and crave more. It tends to coarsen the character and make him a little less likeable then his good nature and open heart world normally warrant. Another strike against the chief character Charlie was the fact a Scottish highlander, of that time period, not knowing how to make a fire from scratch in the wild is totally unconvincing. The rabbit scene and its aftermath were unnecessary. Any good Scotchman of that period would know how to live off the land. The coincidental meeting of the escape prisoner was also a bit farfetched and unnecessary. However, the cat and mouse “courtship" with young master Jonathan Lee was much more persuasive. The master spy Captain Robert character is one of the more interesting of the characters. The mock military recruiting exam is a riot. The foe army mock Theban sacred band from petticoat junction assault force is silly but fun. The triumphant rescue of Le Beck is great. The main characters Charlie Gorgon and Benoit La Beck represent the ideals of love to contrast against the more earthly profane adventures the two engage in on their jerky path back, to find and end the story with each other.
Recommendation: Sorry the plot was predictable in the direction it will resolve. Overall the book has the rollicking riotous effect of the 1963 adventure comedy movie Tom Jones. The movie itself was homage to the book “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling” by writer Henry Fielding published in 1749. Le Beck is the Sophia Western character whose pure love rescues Charlie (the Tom Jones character) from his reckless sexual profligacy ways for domestic happiness of pure committed lovemaking; and that is a wrap up; with a happy ever after ending. Three words to sum it up? Light, Funny, & Trashy. A good summer beach read or listen.
Not What I Expected
I think the books description should have been more clear about the X-rated material. I thought this was going to be an historical novel, but was shocked to find out it was basically all about the sexual exploits between two men. I would never have bought this book had I known. This is not the type of thing I was to listen to back and forth to work.
I didn't listen further than the first three chapters and gave up.