Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: The British Devil by Greg Hogben

Reviewed by Hannah
The British Devil by Greg Hogben
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 290pgs
5 Pants Off

British national Greg Stephens knew there would be challenges in his new relationship with handsome American Navy officer Danny Taylor: long distance; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the Defense of Marriage Act; US immigration….

But he didn’t anticipate his greatest obstacle: Danny’s born-again Christian mother, Vivien. A secretary in a small-town Southern Baptist church in Texas, she bristles at Greg’s secular beliefs. Through passive-aggressive manipulation, subtle deceit, or outright battle, Vivien resolves to banish Greg and return Danny to the fold, come hell or high water. Greg’s hold on Danny’s heart is pitted against Vivien’s crusade for Danny’s soul.

All the while, Greg devotes himself to keeping Danny happy while negotiating the cultural differences of his life in America. Danny’s new career as a lawyer takes them from his native Texas to New York. But with Vivien testing Greg’s stiff upper lip at every turn, something has to give.

The British Devil is a semiautobiographical novel exploring culture, religion, and love in a bi-national relationship.

This semi-autobiographical novel by Hogben is such a refreshing addition to the M/M genre (plus my personal collection).

This story has the foundations of many M/M romance novels; there is rejection, conflict, love and the ever over-bearing presence of the Christian faith. However what ‘The British Devil’ brings to the table is the ever loved English wit (yes I’m English, yes I’m bias, lets all move on and enjoy the book shall we). Hogben’s writing is sharp and funny throughout this book making it a truly enjoyable read, one that I tore through in a mere four hours.

The story of Greg and Danny is something of an underdog tale, the underdog being their relationship and the chance for a happy ever after. If it is isn’t enough that they are kept apart by the Atlantic ocean they have a right wing, bible bashing, Southern Baptist nut of a mother getting in their way.

Greg and Danny meet on a Military site and their ‘lust’ for each other is almost instant. The way that Hogben has written this book allows the reader to get right into their relationship. You are brought into their lives six months in, and then with some clever narration you are taken through the passages of how their love developed and you are lead along the bitter path they have to travel to get to their increasingly unattainable happy ending.

This had the undertones of what could be a truly heartbreaking story of rejection, however this particular tale of the Christian faith getting in the way of a ‘gay romance’ is slightly different, and Hogben writes it in such a way, that even the moments of highest tension are soon released with quick wit and humour making it a light relief after so many M/M that leave your heart barely beating.

Danny’s mother has never rejected him for being gay, but as you come to see, that doesn’t stop his mother resenting Greg for taking her son right down to ‘Hell’.

It is the interactions between Greg and Vivien, Danny’s strict Baptist mother, that provide so much of the quick wit in this book, the sparks really fly whenever these two characters meet on the page. The best way I can describe this book is it has charisma. Greg’s quick responses to his over-baring ‘mother-in-law’ will have you cracking up whilst also trying to figure out if Danny and him can ever overcome such intolerance.

This book is filled with loud and loveable side characters that provide so much of its appeal, as Greg’s friends fill the pages with comical antidotes that bring welcome relief from all the tension created by the underlying worry that the happiness can’t last for Greg.

This book isn’t filled with sex (I know, BOO!) but in its place you have pure chemistry between Danny and Greg. These characters are a true example of love and companionship as they interact with adorable mocking and tenderness…and lust. It is a relationship that the reader can invest in and picture a future for them, which keeps you desperately reading as you pray this GOD FORSAKEN women will be taken down.

Greg Hogben has written a truly great book. One that you will enjoy over and over again as you read through a relationship that faces the common pitfalls of trying to protect each other, doing the right thing, putting the other person before yourself and above all, finding a way to make love work in a world that doesn’t always give you a chance.

Read, laugh, and enjoy.

~you may want to hold onto the fact this is semiautobiographical as you read through some of this story…bloody hell.~

5 Pants Off

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