The Phoenix by Ruth Sims
The Writer’s Collective
Gay Historical Romance
ISBN: 1-932133-40-2
Reviewed by Cheryl

   

 

Born into poverty and violence in late nineteenth century London, Jack Rourke and his twin brother barely eke out an existence.  Abused by their father and neglected by their mother, Jack dreams of escaping with his softer brother.  When the teenager finally breaks free, it is not without the tragic death of his twin, a lethal encounter with his father, and ultimately the loss of his identity.  With the help of friend and theater owner, Lizbet, Jack finds a wealthy patron willing to take him in and raise him.  Adopted by Xavier St. Denys, Jack is reborn as Kit St. Denys.  With a new world open to him, Kit develops his acting talents and eventually becomes a renowned actor with his own repertory company.

Raised in the country, there was never any doubt that Nick Stuart would take over his strict religious father's medical practice.  Assisting his father from a very young age, he learns medicine without a formal education.  As Nick gets older, he is eager for proper schooling and freedom from his father's dominate rule.  He flees to London and a university education.  Once he becomes a doctor, he can't leave his good heart and Christian upbringing behind.  Nick devotes himself to providing healthcare to those in need.

A chance meeting at the theater throw these two unlikely men together.  Their attraction is instantaneous, and love is not long to follow.  Falling in love might be easy, but making their relationship work is a whole other story. Kit is not open and honest about his past, while Nick is conflicted over the morality of their overpowering attraction.  Can these two find their way in a society where their love is forbidden?

A sweeping tale overflowing with rich detail and emotion, The Phoenix is a grand historical romance.  Ruth Sims crafts a lush world full of well developed characters.  Introduced to Kit and Nick in their youth, I truly came to know them both.  Neither is perfect, but each are engaging men that had me rooting for a happy ending.  Ms. Sims's vivid storytelling left me breathless at both the horrors and triumphs of these two men.  Deftly handling the realities of a gay relationship at that point in history, she gives Kit and Nick's romance a true authenticity.  After beginning with dramatic flare, the melodrama does become almost too much toward the ending.  However, it's hard to find fault as the mesmerizing drama kept me reading late into the night.  Ms. Sims has penned a powerful epic romance.  Lovers of historical romances, gay or straight, will want to pick up The Phoenix.

     

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