Title: Herc & Pyotr
Author: Atom Yang
Publisher: MLR Press
Release: 24th March 2016
Genre: M/M (Contemporary / Science-Fiction)
Herc thought he had the perfect life: a great partner and a meaningful career as a psychotherapist--until his partner left him a week ago and Herc became too depressed to see his clients. When a random meteorite punched a tidy hole in his car's engine, it seemed like the world had it in for him, but bumping into Pyotr, the handsome older man who's moved in a couple of doors down and happens to study things like falling stars, things might be looking up for Herc--and more may be falling than the skies in this light-hearted, apocalyptic romance.
The end of the world is nigh! No, I’m not going all religious on you but what would you do if you met the love of your life under these circumstances? Well, this is the fate facing Herc and Pyotr.
I did something with this book that I don’t normally do and that is I dove in blind not knowing what to really expect. I was delighted how this story turned out for me personally. Under any other circumstances the romance between Herc and Pyotr would have been a sweet, angst free romance but put them into circumstances that no one would like to imagine you have the angst, not for their romance but for their very lives.
I loved the way that this story builds up gradually and kept me guessing as to how it’s all going to pan out. Herc is still having a bad case of blues and heartaches after his ex walked out and left him high and dry. You would normally think a psychotherapist would then use some of his own medicine and advice he would readily hand out to others. But no, whether you look at these emotions from a clinical point or not, the fact is a break-up still hurts like hell. This made Herc for me totally sympathetic as a character, someone who is trying to get himself back on track emotionally, evening the keel of his boat that has just been violently rocked. However, he still manages to keep his humour which had me smiling too at times. He meets Pyotr one evening after the whole neighbourhood is woken up by a meteorite hitting Herc’s prized possession, his car.
Pytor is totally unassuming and this for me at the beginning gave him a curious man-of-mystery air. Who is the new neighbour? Where does he come from? What does he do? Well, these questions are soon answered and Herc finds himself becoming evermore attracted to this stranger. However, I could feel the hurt and turmoil going on in Herc. He has recently just been dumped by the ex, so is this too soon or is it going to be your typical case of caught on the rebound? The way the romance between these two developed was so sweet, sensitively handled and with copious amounts of tea. No, Pytor is not British but from another nation that regards drinking tea almost as a ritual. I found the whole cultural difference thing a wonderful treat to read, how these two could find love through the exchange of sharing their very different cultural backgrounds. So I just loved reading about these two getting to know each other bit-by-bit, a gentle romance which kept me interested in itself, lulling me into a false sense of security and totally oblivious as to what is about to happen to the world around them.
The story also contains wonderfully vivid secondary characters in the form of Herc’s best friend and the neighbour they would make fun of together who also turns out to have more layers and depth than first meets the eye. So what do you do when you fall madly in love with someone, but you are being too cautious in getting hurt again and the whole world is about to go to hell around you? Yes, you take that chance, that leap of faith and don’t question anything. For a book that took me a little under two hours to read, there is a lot of ground covered and a plot that is well paced and builds up very nicely. I found it a totally enthralling read from beginning to end. Do romances that form under stressful situations have a chance of staying together? Well, in Herc’s and Pyotr’s case I would truly like to think so. On a side note, I am curious as to how much of the author himself can be found in Herc though? I think this is part of the reason the characters in this book felt so real. I new author to me and after reading this book then I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more.