Author ~ Vanessa Mulberry
Publisher ~ Brasyer Press
Published ~ 9 May 2016
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance
Hector has been a dutiful son and prince his whole life until his father orders him to marry. The Trojan was meant for no woman, and when he meets a handsome youth named Anatolius, he is more determined than ever to rule one day with a man at his side. However, after he is betrayed by his brother Paris his fate seems unavoidable. Hector needs all the courage he has learned in battle, and the assistance of a goddess, to win the hand of the man he loves.
This is a gay (MM) romance novel set prior to the events of the Trojan War. It depicts romantic and sexual love between two men in a broadly tolerant society.
Hector and Anatolius is the debut novel of British author, Vanessa Mulberry.
Paying a visit to the archaeological site of Troy has always been on my bucket list, and quite close to the top at that. Homer’s Iliad, an account of how a young couple’s inability to keep their clothes on led to the destruction of a civilisation, has to class as the first ever historical novel. It’s got everything – passion, lust, revenge and humour – including an ensemble cast of heroes that has rarely been bettered. I’ve mentioned my competence kink before so it’s probably a given that my favourite should be Hector – oldest, most sensible and most sympathetic of the sons of Priam. I suspect that Vanessa Mulberry has a soft spot for him as well because he comes over very well in her novella Hector and Anatolius, the first part of a new series entitled Trojan Men.
The premise is a familiar one – son and heir is under pressure to choose a wife but really prefers the company of men – but factor in the historical fantasy setting and add a sprinkling of Greek pantheon interference and the story can take quite a different path to the norm. Hector has given his word to make a choice from the pool of suitable spouses despite preferring to take big hairy manly soldiers to bed. Out on patrol he and his men are almost attacked by a mixed group of goat herds and artisans then Hector sets eyes on the leader of the attackers, a beautiful youth called Anatolius, and he is lost. Anatolius has been blessed, or cursed, by the gods [who seem to have all the emotional maturity of toddlers] with the fate that he will marry a prince of Troy and has been kept carefully virginal by his hopeful father. Now 21, and probably desperate for some action, Anatolius is absolutely fine with the arrangement Hector offers – to come back to Troy and be his live in lover while he looks for an apprenticeship in some manly trade and for as long after as they can swing it.
But things are never that simple where the gods are involved. Family on both sides interferes – I adored the little cameos from poor Cassandra, speaking her cryptic truths and being ignored, and doting old Priam – and soon the lovers are separated with a good deal of hurt on both sides.
On the whole this was a fun story – about the right length to read between waking up and having to get up to go to work – and there was a lot about it that I enjoyed. The author had done her research on Ancient Greek domestic life, though the settings felt more to me like Troy the film that what I’d imagine might be in the genuine Bronze Age site, and I also enjoyed the depiction of familiar characters. It’s by no means a simple romance either – boy meets boy but they have to weather a lot of storms and separations before they can achieve bliss.There is a Big Misunderstanding but it’s not contrived, being rather the natural product of the characters, human and divine, involved.
I did have a few moments when I wanted to give them a smack, particularly Anatolius, and others where I was having to suspend my disbelief really HARD, but that’s probably more to do with me reading as an ancient crumbly reviewer and not being in tune with the anguish and passion of the youths depicted in this novella. And for that matter depicted in the Iliad where even great military leaders behave like thwarted teenagers. So it’s a good call actually.
It’s a fun story with a nicely drawn setting, sympathetic characters and a plot that’s far more complex than the page count might suggest. I enjoyed it very much and have made a note of the author to follow future releases.
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