Monday, November 23, 2015

Pre-Release Review: Unnatural by Joanna Chambers


Title: Unnatural

Author: Joanna Chambers

Publisher: Samhain

Release: 24th November 2105

Genre: M/M (historical)


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The heart breaks but does not change.

An Enlightenment Story

Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Warning: Contains a dashing military hero with one weakness—a scientist who feels their chemistry in every cell of his body. Kissing in the rain, skinny dipping, and emotional flashbacks. Huzzah!

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Mark’s Review

Oh my, if this wasn’t a study in contradiction then I don’t know what is? Captain Iain Sinclair is for me one of life’s mysteries, someone who would just drive me nuts, someone who blows hot and cold on what seems at first appearances on a whim. This is certainly the case with his childhood friend and lover, or is he, or isn’t he, or is he, or…….? Iain has been the centre of James’s world for a long time, but he is always left not knowing where Iain stands exactly.

And it was exactly this that I loved about this book so much. In a time where being openly gay would get you into deep trouble in Iain’s eyes the possibility of leading a relationship would not be possible. Compound this with the fact that he has spent most of his life trying to please his father after his older brother drowned, but he was never going to match up to his father’s expectations no matter what he did. Living in the shadow of a very nasty man. So Iain is torn inside, always struggling with himself, trying to deny what he really wants, trying to rationalise things with the thoughts and attitudes of the time. As I said a study in contradiction of ever there was one.

This is where James differs. James would be willing to have a relationship with Iain but all too often Iain comes onto him strong and then blows him away which shows what emotional turmoil is going on inside of Iain. Iain is so afraid of losing James’s friendship that he doesn’t see a possibility to be friends and lovers in one. To Iain you’re either friends or lovers and not both. He loves James dearly but can’t bring himself to think of being in love with him. Men just have sex and that’s it, especially in a time where this would be realistically the only way possible. So I could totally understand James it takes the last straw to break the Camel's back, you can only be hurt so many times before you say enough is enough. This is exactly what he did and they hadn't had contact for over two years. It's time for Iain to make amends.

The story begins when Iain is invited by James's sister to a party. As it was in those days these "parties" would go for days and everyone would be guests at some mansion for a few days or more. Iain has to make one last ditch attempt at begging forgiveness from James and mending their friendship, or is it that or still something else? Geez, you see what I mean? Well, James's reception of Iain is cool to say the very least and Iain has a lot of work and ground to cover to get back James in his life. He still wants to be friends but still can't stop his emotions from wanting more.

This story deals with flashbacks or the plot device is one where you are always taken back to James’s and Iain’s previous situation. You are in the present time, at the party and then you go back and learn about their shared history between James and Iain. Bit by bit the shared pasts of both men are gradually revealed along with all the trials and tribulations that got them to their current predicament when we first meet them. Their relationship hiatus so to speak. As a reader this is a format or plot device that may sit well with some and not others. I found it fine for me because it adds a steady stream of information in trying to understand where both men are coming from in the present setting. Everybody has a past, even in historicals, so as a reader I felt like I was plunged right in the middle of the present situation rather than reading or observing a past historical event. So when we first meet the MCs there are a lot of questions like, why the hell is he behaving like that? Or what ever happened to them to be in the situation they are now? Whatever happened must have been bad, so why are they not speaking to each other? Until in the end all the pieces of the puzzle are put together and we know exactly what has got them to this point. So then the way is clear for them to make amends and see if they have a chance at a future together.

I love my historicals and this one is most definitely recommended. What I really loved about this book is that it wasn’t a book that shoved history down your throat and showed off the author's research. Of course this was impeccably done but this was more a story that deals with realistic feelings, attitudes and emotions of the time between two turbulent characters who had been on a long journey. They now need to make a decision, or Iain most definitely does, whether they can get over their differences and carve out a future together.

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Meet Joanna Chambers

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write.  She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word.  In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children.  Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse.  Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

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