Author: Lucius Parhelion
Length: 3,500 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m historical romance
Jack returned from Korea as a young renegade who might love his cheap paperbacks but who also loves showing off his leather jacket in the lavender bars. He never would have predicted that dealing with the boys from Vice would depend more on Mr. Cooley the bookseller, and their unexpected binding, than playing the tough guy.
I love Lucius Parhelion’s historical stories and was delighted to see that he had produced a new story for the charity sips at TQ this year. This story is set in 1954. Jack has two loves, cheap books and visiting a certain gentleman’s club. Fortunately for him they are next door to each other. When the vice cops raid the club, Jack is rescued by the shop owner, Mr Cooley.
All the things I love about this author are present in this book too. He has a great eye for period detail without overwhelming the reader and so the speech and clothes of the characters set the scene, whilst the cagey behaviour of both men show of a time when men cannot be too clear about their feelings for fear of prison.
I’ve been interested to see how the theme of leather can be incorporated into each story and with this story it’s the leather bindings of the rare and used books which allows the bond between the men to form. Jack’s knowledge of books and the way that the two men band together to foil the vice police, make this an emotional but also amusing story. It’s only a snapshot with room for more, but it’s well worth reading. As with many of this author’s stories the sexual references are oblique, but again that fit with the time period and I really enjoyed reading how Jack describes the encounter between him and Mr Cooley without any graphic references. It made me smile.
My only niggle centred on the fact that we never find out much about Mr Cooley. This is mainly because the story is from the closed third person view of Jack and they are almost strangers, even by the end of the story. We get snippets of Jack’s life, his love of books and his thoughts about Mr Cooley but nothing except a vague reference to him being older and a generally nice guy.
That niggle wasn’t enough to spoil the story for me, rather it left me wishing I could find out more. If you like historicals then this could be the book for you. If you like this author then this will definitely be a book to buy.