Micah Yardley, a student of letters at Harvard, has only ever wanted one thing – to meet Jefferson Dering. Jefferson is a poet and his idol, and after hearing a speech he gave at Harvard, Micah travels by coach from Boston to Jefferson’s home in Wroxham a few hours away, in hopes of discussing poetry. Micah wishes that one day he could be a published poet like Jefferson, but his family does not feel that a scholarly career is a worthy pursuit. Luckily he is the fourth son so there is not a lot of pressure on him to fit into the family mold.
Jefferson exceeds all of Micah’s expectations. He is warm and welcoming and invites Micah into his home for poetry readings over dinner and drinks. Micah falls more and more under Jefferson’s spell every time they meet until the natural outlet of sex can no longer be restrained. Micah, who is a virgin, realizes that he loves more than Jefferson’s poetry – he is falling in love with the man as well, but when Jefferson kisses him he does not follow through with his sexual urges. Instead he returns to Boston immediately, upset at his feelings for another man.
After he returns home Micah carries on a long distance correspondence relationship with Jefferson. The letters, which take up almost one quarter of the book, reveal their feelings and everything else they cannot say in person. But Jefferson has secrets. Ten years earlier he had been caught in a compromising situation with another young man and this caused him to exile himself to Wroxham where he lives in obscurity. Jefferson does not wish to have a similar situation develop with Micah but he can’t give him up, although he seems to have difficulty moving on after what happened all those years ago.
The background for this book seems to be the nineteenth century but there are no real details of when the story actually takes place except for the mode of transportation, the language, clothing and supporting characters. The pace is very slow almost like a serene and peaceful stream and the setting is romantic and sensual.
There are paranormal influences in the story that affect Jefferson and his family but I found this to be quite distracting, especially at the end of the book.
A Hidden Beauty is beautifully written and the story is finely crafted. The language is “olde worlde” and is appropriate for the period in which the story appears to take place. I thought the pace of the love affair between the two characters was quite fitting given the era, but it seemed to me that Micah’s character was somewhat juvenile and ordinary and maybe this was intentional on the part of the author given his age. However, Jamie Craig does a great job on Jefferson in his role of seducer and experienced older lover.
I found this book to be a surprisingly good read and would recommend it to anyone who loves the genre.
This book was previously reviewed for Literary Nymphs Reviews