A guest review by Kassa
Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster secretly watched stable master Patrick Callahan mastering the groundskeeper, he’s longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death, Colin speaks up in his defense, announcing that he, too, is guilty of “the love that dare not speak its name.” Soon they’re both condemned as convicts and shipped off to the faraway prison colony of Australia.
Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale and is determined that no one will scale the wall he’s built around his heart. Yet he’s inexorably drawn to the charismatic Colin despite his best efforts to keep him at bay. As their journey extends from the cramped and miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must build new lives for themselves. They’ll have to tame each other to find happiness in this wild new land.
The Station is a lovely, easy to read historical. It’s not historically accurate though and is very much a storytelling narrative, almost all tell and virtually no show. The characters are decent and the plot is a charming tale of love between unlikely men moving at a slower pace. If you can suspend disbelief enough to buy into the story or inaccuracies don’t bother you (I personally don’t care) then this could be a satisfying romance read.
The story is told in third person from Colin’s point of view. He’s a young, rather spoiled son of a wealthy family. He’s not the typical spoiled rotten brat but he is used to a certain level of living and servants. When he’s sixteen he comes across the stable master having sex with another man, which sends Colin into a confused tailspin. For years Colin avoids Patrick and slowly comes to the realization that he desires men as well. When Patrick is discovered with another man and the crowd threatens to hang him, Colin confesses his own sexuality in hopes of sparing Patrick’s life. This sends both men off to Australia as criminals where life is unexpected, but potentially incredible.
The story unfolds slowly with a languid pace. I never got bored or wanted to put the book down but the slower pace never quite makes this that exciting or a must read. The beginning takes a while to get going as the set up for Colin’s wealthy, privileged life is given great detail and importance. This helps develop Colin’s character in some ways as you see he’s not a brat so much as simply doesn’t know any other life. However Colin’s characterization never quite rang true for me. The sharp contrast of his home schooling to the radical change that takes place once he confesses and becomes a prisoner doesn’t really change Colin at all. He realizes how much he took his easy life for granted and never appreciated his good fortune but these are mild thoughts at best.
At the same time Colin also never really experiences any great regret or hardship, even while a prisoner. He never experiences any big anguish or emotion from his significant change in life. He reaffirms repeatedly that he’s happy he was honest about himself, regardless of the severe consequences. I found some of this hard to believe. I mean a young man from a wealthy, protected home that finds himself in with criminals that would abuse, rape, and harm him and aside from some mild fear, he never regrets his decisions…ever. I think I would have been more invested in Colin as a character if he showed more range of emotion. He clearly has to mature quickly once at sea and in Australia but he comes across as mature, intelligent, and level headed from beginning to end with the same limited emotional range.
What I like about Colin is that he’s determined to think positively. He doesn’t have much emotional depth but he is a positive influence in an otherwise dreary and depressing world. Patrick is often an enigma and Colin never quite understands Patrick’s thoughts, emotions, motivations, or feelings so the narrative is always tempered through Colin’s bias. This keeps Patrick less well developed and often Patrick’s motives are a mystery. However, Colin is intelligent and hard working and keeps a lighter feel during the darker moments.
The really great descriptive quality is what helps keeps the story going during the repetitive, slower moments. Colin’s upbringing feels rich and familiar with the upper class wealthy family and the descriptions of the ship to Australia are nicely brought to life. The best is when the group heads to the Australian outback and the desert heat sink in. From England to the ocean crossing and finally Australia, the backdrops are the most vivid and exciting aspect of the story. Although the action is often repetitive, the descriptions are interesting and keep you reading.
Overall this is a decent historical that while not accurate offers enough descriptive quality and decent characterization to make a satisfying romance for those that don’t mind. The pace is slower, more languid but Colin definitely has charm and strength which is surprising given his age and background. If you can suspend your disbelief, then this may entertain the right reader with the lovely romance, hot sex scenes, and adventure feel to the story.