Title: Desmond and Garrick (book 2)
Author: Hayden Thorne
Publisher: Queerteen Press
Amazon: Buy Link Desmond and Garrick Book Two
Genre: LGBTQ Young Adult/Historical/Paranormal
Length: 276 pages/75000 words
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: The adventures of mortal Garrick Mortimer and his vampire students continue in the second part of this delightful story.
As the vain and self-absorbed poets continue their campaign of destruction via awful verse and catastrophic romantic advice in Dryden Abbey, tutor Garrick finds himself struggling in the classroom, with increasingly distracted and agitated pupils eroding all of his hard work and reducing him to using all things dead and decaying in order to keep Desmond and Lavinia’s minds on their lessons. As if that isn’t enough, his parents embark on a mad countryside ramble, their ultimate destination being Dryden Abbey and a face-to-face meeting with their son’s unholy employers.
Meanwhile, with Phillip Priestley’s unexpected appearance, Desmond’s world slowly unravels as infatuation, lust, confusion, and revulsion drive him into wilder mood swings and an overwhelming desire to play with his father’s antique executioner’s axe. Mr. Sherbourne’s coldly distant yet attractive presence in Dryden Abbey further complicates things, prompting Desmond to do something he never thought he’ll ever do: reach out to unlikely allies for help.
In the midst of the wild goings on around them, Garrick and Desmond will realize that the chasm that separates them as distinct species will not only teach them important lessons on understanding and acceptance, but also forge a stronger bond of friendship than they expected.
Let me start with a few warnings: if you are planning to start reading this series with the second book — don’t. The first book was reviewed by Cole here http://gaybook.reviews/2011/01/15/desmond-and-garrick-book-1/ and I cannot urge you strongly enough to start with that book. While we are treated to rather extensive summary of what happened in the beginning, this is literally part two of the same story. Additionally, two more things: Cole gives us other warnings as well that we should heed, and if you are considering reading the books, I urge you very strongly to read the excerpt, because the style alone may turn you off if this is not your cup of tea.
The style attempts to imitate some novels written in the nineteenth century. I happen to like a vast variety of writing styles, and I loved how fun and different this book was, while still familiar because of so many books I have read outside of m/m genre, but here is the little taste for you. If you don’t like it, you are unlikely to enjoy these books.
“Garrick was determined to be a true natural philosopher in that day’s form of entertainment, for it was not only a very good thing for his own intellectual advancement as a perpetual student of science, but it was also a most effective – at least Garrick had hoped so – shield against the bitter disappointment of having to cheapen his private curriculum to encompass the undead world and its sordid contents. Such was the tragic destiny of scholars who were employed to shape vampire students’ intellect.”
A lot of story is still about teenage angst and while I may have wanted to smack Desmond a couple of times, I also wanted to hug him and more than once, because as much as I know about teenage boys’ behavior when they are stuck with the romantic troubles (not ever being a teenage boy of course), it was all so very recognizable and familiar.
I also really appreciated what Hayden Thorne did with the character of Lavinia and how she went ahead about the romantic and otherwise troubles of teenage girls, which was even more recognizable and delightful for me. Of course recognizing Lavinia’s true talents was not likely to happen in the nineteenth century, but I think the author cleverly used the fact that she is writing an alternative history. And as much as her settings sound like nineteenth century England, it is an England with vampires and for me, she got away with writing Lavinia the way she did.
While the pacing picked up a little bit, it was still mostly quite slow and I thought it suited the story very well. The characters definitely mature and grow and learn stuff about themselves, especially Desmond and Garrick and someone else, although of course Desmond does not suddenly become a mature gentleman, he is still a sixteen year old teenager. The humor was still dark and understated, but so funny for me. I feel like I am repeating a lot of things that Cole already stated in his review, but I cannot help it if he dissected the main themes of the story so well. 🙂
I also really enjoyed the romantic angle of the story even if it was so clearly a teenager’s romantic angle, but as much as I wanted to smack Desmond sometimes as I mentioned above, I also found it sweet. I also have to confess that as much as I enjoyed the first book, I was worried a little bit about where the romance (if any) would go, and I think the basis of this issue is the title of the books themselves. I enjoyed the interactions between Garrick and Desmond as reluctant but caring tutor and his student, but I saw zero romantic chemistry and was so hoping that the author would not go there. I was worried not because they have seven years of difference between them (Desmond is sixteen and Garrick is twenty three), and not because they were student and teacher, but because I actually often have very little patience with historical/fantasy novels where the author comes up with artificial tricks to make sure that God forbid the younger character would not have sex before they are eighteen. I always am tempted to ask whether these authors remember Romeo and Juliette’s ages, and at what age Natasha Rostova was engaged to be married, and at what age Natasha Rostova’s mother was married. Anyway, sorry for a little rant about one of my pet peeves, just wanted to explain why I was worried, only because I have not noticed a grain of interest they would have had for each other as romantic couple. Well, of course I will not tell you how author resolved the romantic storyline and who ended up being Desmond’s permanent romantic interest — at the moment anyway— but I will just tell you that I was completely satisfied with the resolution of that angle. 🙂
Lastly, I wanted to briefly touch upon a niggle I had and what stopped the book from being a perfect read for me. It is not even a niggle exactly, just something that did not work for me as perfectly as it could have. One of the themes of the book is learning to accept those who are different from yourself in appearance, behavior and finding what is great and wonderful about them. I just felt that as metaphors go, it was done with a little less subtlety that I saw in other books by this writer. Again, I know that it is marked for the ages 14 and up, so maybe it is not fair for me to even raise this issue, but I guess I feel that young people could handle a bit more sophistication in the development of this theme. It was not bad, but I do feel it could have been a bit better.