Hello all! I’d like to thank Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews for having me today as I continue to celebrate the release of my roaring twenties M/M Historical Romance, A Rose by Any Other Name. And thank you to everyone following the tour.
Folks often comment on how reading one of my historicals is like watching an old classic Hollywood movie. To me, that’s a fabulous compliment as it’s exactly how I set out to write these stories. I adore classic Hollywood movies, and my love for those films of days gone by has greatly influenced my style of storytelling for these books. Because of this, my historicals often verge on the fanciful.
When I think about my favorite classics, I see Cary Grant looking handsome in a three-piece suit and neatly parted hair with his charming smile and razor sharp wit. I see James Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, and Gary Cooper. I envision snappy dialogue, sweeping music, slightly over the top drama, and glamorous sets. These movies always manage to suck me in and sweep me off to another time and place, which is what I set out to do with my historicals.
Although I don’t ignore the struggles of gay men of the decades I write in--primarily the 1920s and 1930s-- it’s not what the stories are about. They’re about how these men find love (a challenge in itself), and how they fight to keep it, considering the time period they live. Some characters do struggle with their homosexuality, like Detective John Flynn in Roses in the Devil’s Garden, but you’ll find that most of my fellas have already come to terms with it. By no means does that simplify their lives or vanquish their inner demons. The world is still very much a dangerous place for them to be who they are.
A Rose by Any Other Name centers around cabaret dancer and high end prostitute Julius Knight, and high-society heir Edward Joseph Clarence Jr. Although Julius and Edward have accepted their sexuality, they struggle with the how the world sees them and are each forced to present a certain image to society. Which is where the title of the book comes into play. Society has many names for men like Julius and Edward, but no matter what they’re called, the bond they form and the love they find in each other is no less sweet.
A Rose By Any Other Name (Fallen Rose #2) by Charlie Cochet
Genre: M/M historical romance, 1920s
Length: Novel 270 Pgs
Published: Sept 12, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Nights in the roaring city remind bright young things that life’s too short to take for granted. Tucked away in Times Square hides the Pantheon: a secret cabaret for wealthy gay men. Pretty young men in elaborate costumes and rouged lips are eager to please, and the champagne flows all night long. It’s a world of frivolity, fantasy, and debauchery. As Eros, the most sought after performer at the Pantheon, Julius uses his beauty and charm on enthusiastic patrons, but growing weary of superficial love, he longs to make a better life for himself.
Five years after being declared mentally unfit after surviving the trenches of No Man’s Land, Edward Joseph Clarence Junior pieced his shattered life back together. Now he’s ready to take on the family empire. To celebrate his thirtieth birthday, Edward’s cousin takes him to the most posh nightclub in town, the Pantheon. Falling under the sway of Eros, Edward and Julius find a love they’ve never imagined and the chance for a future they had only dared to dream about. But as Ares, a notorious gangster and Julius’s most important—and dangerous— client watches them, the threat to their love and their lives grows by the day.
I thought I'd be starting my review by saying that although this was my first full length Charlie Cochet historical, it certainly wouldn't be my last (which is actually the case) but that would have been a bit of a fib because it kept ringing far away bells, as I was getting a feeling of déjà vu about certain aspects of the story all the time I was reading so as soon as I put it down, I did a bit of investigating on my Kindle, and found that I actually owned, and had read, the first in the series, 'Roses In The Devils Garden' which I now remember downloading about 18 months ago (hence the brain fog). It was a freebie in Goodreads: Love Is Always Write event ...and guess what? Whoop! It's still free; so don't hang around...go get it (see link below) and even though I don't think you really need to read it first...as I would say this works okay as a standalone...I still wholeheartedly recommend you pick it up, because it was a really great free short and it will give you some insight into the relationships between a couple of the characters.
But back to this story. I have to be honest, this era of history isn't normally a favourite of mine, I usually prefer my historicals pre Victorian but, if I am going to choose a book set in the early twentieth century, the Roaring Twenties is the one I'm most likely to gravitate towards, especially if it's based in the US and it has mobsters, prohibition, speakeasy's and flappers. So I was really looking forward to this, as Charlie has included the majority of the above, except for the flappers, which in this instance can be swapped for beautiful boys who 'cater' to the needs of rich dapper daddy's, in private clubs. Now that definitely made this story even more of a delicious draw for me and I wasn't disappointed.
I thought Charlie Cochet got the feel and the atmosphere of the age perfectly, right down to the slang of the time and it's music, which adds to the authenticity and charm of the book. I could just imagine the thrill of drinking illegal alcohol out of a cup of saucer during prohibition and dancing the Charleston in Gin joints that you had to knock on the door to enter, usually run by notorious gangsters who would kill as soon as look at you, only here we have private clubs that pull in the rich and the decadent.
Edward Joseph Clarence junior and Julius Knight, or Eros, the persona he adopts at The Pantheon Cabaret, were fabulous as a couple. The sweet, honourable but slightly naive department store heir; carrying his own demons from the war and the beautiful, sought after, male courtesan and darling of that particular stage, made for some wonderful scenes at the beginning of the story, when Edwards wayward cousin Maxfield and his more serious, solid best friend Albert decided, as a birthday treat, to take him to The Parisian to see The Pantheon Cabaret, a show based on ancient greek gods. A cabaret for men whose needs lean toward the male persuasion, filled with a cast of gorgeous boys, all looking for rich patrons who will pay for their services. Eros being the most wanted of all...
'Those men were waiting to shower him with adoration and, more importantly, lots of dough. A fantasy is what they came for; a fantasy is what he would offer. No matter who he faced in the club, he always had the upper hand. He was Eros, and they would all bow before him. Poor mere mortals.'
The moment he sets his sights on Eros, Edward is more than enchanted but getting close to the heavenly creature isn't that easy, as his services are desired by everyone, especially one particular man who monopolises him; a nasty piece of work only known as Ares. A real creep and bad guy who obviously has his fingers in some unsavourable pies and who roughly treats Eros as his own property. Ugh! I was dying to see him get what he deserved!
Through more luck than judgement, Edward does end up in Eros's dressing room and their first meeting leaves the wary white winged 'God of love' totally bothered, bewildered but also slightly bewitched by this odd, courteous man who is obviously highly attracted to him but who shows him respect and a gentleness that's completely the opposite of what he gets from the other men he's paid to entertain... men who usually just fawn all over him, control him or just pounce! He's wary of his intentions because he's never been treated like this before. Edward in the meantime is left wanting more of this exquisite young man, who brings out his protective nature and a need to not only be with him sexually one day but to cherish him and if the only way to be with him is to pay, then that's what he'll have to do...and he does...he pays a huge amount of money for a whole three weeks, where he gets Eros or Julius—as he finds out his true name—all to himself. Three weeks, not to rush him into anything but to get to know, court and break down all Julius's objections to them entering into a proper relationship, as they begin to fall for each other, and there's no doubt the stumbling blocks are there, some physical as they find themselves encountering an angry, jealous Ares, and some emotional as Julius constantly tries to points out...
"Edward you're a sweet and wonderful man. You deserve someone who can love you, take care of you, who can give you everything you deserve. Not pieces but a whole. How can I give you my heart while I gave my body to other men? It would crush us both, so it's best we get such notions out of our heads from the start before someone gets hurt."
....but Edward doesn't give up that easily as both Julius and the horrible Ares find out.
It's not just a love story, there's a lot more going on in the background and a fantastic set of supporting characters boosting the enjoyment factor. Characters like Julius's best friends and fellow performers, Pothos and Himerus, or Terry and Lawry as they're respectively known, plus Maxfield and Albert... all four really loveable in their own rights, even though Maxfield does tend to put a few backs up during the course of the story. In fact, there's some really great subplots involving the four of them and another thread surrounding a not so nice member of The Pantheons boys, called Anteros; a scheming, green eyed employee of the club who has been knocked off his pedestal by Julius. A real troublemaker whose spitefulness puts the two budding lovers in danger. There's jealousy, dirty dealings and secrets being held by more than one of the cast, bubbling in the background, all leading up to the books quite nail biting finish. Bring in the two agents Harlan McKay and Nathan Reilly from the first book and it's even more appealing because these two characters are just as endearing as they were before. You definitely have to read their story... I love those two.
It's sexy and sensual without being overly graphic but more importantly, it's lip smackingly romantic. I adored the two MC's as a couple, and I loved what was happening between certain people in the background. The more I look back on it the more I realise how good it was and I am so looking forward to more from Charlie in the historical field. She has such an easy style of writing that I just found myself floating through the whole story. A definite keeper and a must read if you're a fan. As they would have said in the twenties...that was the Bee's Knee's!!
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Roses In The Devils Garden (Fallen Rose #1) by Charlie Cochet
In a city overrun by lawlessness and corruption, best friends and lovers- Prohibition Agents Harlan Mackay and Nathan Reilly, are fighting a losing battle. With bootleggers running amuck and countless speakeasies materializing every day, how can two men possibly hope to make a difference? Especially when they can't even trust their own bureau?
If dealing with hoodlums wasn't enough, a ghost from Nathan's past threatens to destroy everything Harlan and Nathan hold dear.
About the Author
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
Charlie Cochet is gifting one very lucky reader a SIGNED PAPERBACK copy of A Rose by Any Other Name. All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.
*open internationally*Blog Tour Hosts 11th Sept - The Novel Approach 12th Sept - Dreamspinner Press Blog Release Day Party 13th Sept - Hearts on Fire 15th Sept - Joyfully Jay (Exclusive excerpt) 16th Sept - Attention is Arbitrary 17th Sept - Prism Book Alliance 19th Sept - Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews (Exclusive giveaway) 20th Sept - The Blogger Girls 22nd Sept - Bookwinked