A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: In the aftermath of World War II and in an exotic location, an unexpected and seemingly impossible romance tests the strength and love of one privileged family.
The Philippines, 1946
After being discharged from the Marines, John Buchanan takes a position as overseer for plantation owner Ignacio Saenz. The work is good, but the real draw for John is Mount Mayon, the active volcano looming in the island’s horizon. Finally he has a chance to put his interrupted studies in vulcanology into practice.
Gregorio Delgado, the current overseer, isn’t thrilled at being replaced. However, he can’t ignore his attraction to John, who appears to be a kindred spirit. But John throws mixed signals—and more importantly, he pays too much attention to Margarita, one of Ignacio’s marriageable daughters.
As John and Gregorio begin a tour of the haciendas, John discovers he has far more in common with his new acquaintance than he thought possible. Torn between honor and desire, John struggles to define who he is and what Gregorio could mean to him. Like the unpredictable volcano, equal parts beauty and danger, Gregorio becomes an obsession that could erupt at any minute and destroy them both.
I’m ready for a trip to the Philippines 🙂
I’ve described a lot of books as being well-written. Mayon is more than that, it’s great writing. The descriptions and imagery were fantastic. The natural beauty and generosity of the people was depicted so well that I was able to quickly connect and feel immersed in a foreign country and culture as they emerged from a devastating war.
John Buchanan is a newly discharged US Marine trying to figure out what to do with his life. He has been offered the position of plantation manager by a very wealthy man. He is also expected to marry one of the wealthy plantation owner’s daughters if he decides to take the job. John isn’t thrilled with the job or the daughters but the proximity to Mount Mayon may make it all worthwhile. He had been studying vulcanology before the war began and interrupted his studies, so for him this is the chance of a lifetime.
Gregorio Delgado (Greg) has grown up on the outskirts of the Saenz family. He has been a constant companion and friend to the Saenz girls all his life. Their father, Ignacio Saenz, took a special interest in Greg which has allowed him a lifestyle and education he would never have achieved otherwise. Greg has been managing the plantation on his own since the war broke out and is surprised by John’s sudden appearance. Greg is hurt and angry when he is told to give John, his replacement, a tour of the plantation and explain how the operation works.
What makes this book stand out is the development of every aspect of the story. It starts with the location and time. After that are all the different characters. There are complicated relationships within the Saenz family and some extend to Greg and his mother. The web of lies and mistrust amongst them runs just as deep as the love in some cases. John is thrown into the mess and given only a couple weeks to decide if these people are his future. I’m sure it sounds confusing but I promise you it all makes sense. The writing and character development are excellent!
As much as I enjoyed the family dynamics, they pale in comparison to the romance between Greg and John. They rightfully had a lot of fear and turmoil over loving another man in a time and place where that type of relationship would never be acceptable. It was the type of romance I love. They had to work, compromise, and sacrifice to get their dream. My only complaint is that all the pieces fell into place a little too perfectly and too predictably. I knew where everything was leading but I still enjoyed getting there. It’s a great book and I recommend it.