Author ~ Mann Ramblings
Publisher ~ Wayward Ink Publishing
Published ~ 27th November 2015
Genre ~ Science Fiction M/M Romance
Ship Logs of the Santa Claus: Book Two
The trials and tribulations of the crew and passengers of interplanetary transport vessel, The Santa Claus continues in A Cook’s Tale.
After a horrific breakup, Erron Murfin is bitter, homeless, and friendless. When the cook’s position on the Santa Claus presents itself, Erron decides to escape his current circumstances and join the crew. On board he reconnects with family friend Gamin Wells, whose own secrets and issues begin to surface upon Erron's arrival. The least of which is the reason the pair haven't laid eyes on one another in over twelve years.
As Erron settles into his new duties, the men on board take an interest in their newest crew member. Among those intrigued by Erron are polyamorous couple, Barrus and James. Despite Erron's cautious nature, he’s drawn into a triad relationship with the pair.
But there’s something about Gamin…
Is Erron too damaged to confront his own feelings?
Will his past prevent him from finding what he needs?
So picture this – the metallic bulk of a spaceship against the star-studded deeps of space, speeding across the galaxy, carrying essential cargo and facing danger with gallantry.
Yeah, me too.
I have to admit that I hadn’t read the first book in the series but I plan to remedy that after reading this cheerful relationship driven sci fi adventure from Mann Ramblings. This is a post war story, set in a period where hurts are still raw and military men, bereft of their purpose and too uneasy to settle back into their pre-war activities have to find something to do and a safe place to do it.
The good ship Santa Claus is one such safe place. The Captain selects the best, most expert candidates for his crew but every man of them has to be gay. It saves trouble, he explains to newest potential recruit, Erron. Erron is pretty, slight, has the latest accessory – bright green hair – and is an expert chef though lately he has been unemployed and homeless. Erron made the mistake of becoming completely dependent on a man who had no qualms about sacking him and throwing him out of their shared home when he tired of him.
The illustration of Erron on the cover of the book is a pretty good depiction of his attitude – unhappy uneasy and giving the side-eye to the world. A billet on Santa Claus is just what Erron needs to give him some stability and a increase to his self esteem, even more so when he discovers that in his new position of cook’s assistant he’ll be subordinate to Gamin Wells, the only father figure he ever knew. Gamin, an impressive figure still despite being in his 50s, has his own problems which become apparent as their voyage progresses, but his care for and support of Erron is unwavering as he makes his place amongst the crew, endures the necessary hazing and finds love. It goes both ways too, as Erron soothes Gamin’s wounds and allows him to find peace.
In addition to Gamin, there are several important secondary characters – Security Officer Jacks and his beautiful partner Hadrian, Medical officer Carson, the lovers Barrus and James who welcome Erron to their bed, the predatory pilot Priest – whose interactions deepen the complexity of the plot. Because basically it is quite a simple romance plot about how people who have been deeply hurt can learn to trust and to love again.
The setting has all the trappings one might expect of a shipboard sci fi romance, but the plot is so sound it could be moved to virtually any confined all male setting. In fact there a moment where Erron approaches the Santa Claus for the first time where I was reminded of Ishmael boarding the Pequod, right down to the weathered navy blue peaked cap. With that image in mind I could imagine this plot on a square rigger with the enigmatic Captain Danvers as Ahab, or for that matter on an Antarctic scientific research station or Camp Bastion. The atmosphere on board ship is pretty much as one might expect when populated entirely by gay romance heroes, there are minor scenes of purely recreational sex and of violence as tempers run high, but there’s caring and tenderness too.
It was a fun read and I think even people who might have been put off by the sci fi tag would probably enjoy this story of incredibly manly men.