Title: The Long Past & Other Stories
Author: Ginn Hale
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Genre(s): Historical Romance, Dystopian, Fantasy
Page Count: 317 pages
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
1858 – Warring mages open up a vast inland sea that splits the United States in two. With the floodwaters come creatures from a long distant past. What seems like the End Times forges a new era of heroes and heroines who challenge tradition, law, and even death as they transform the old west into a new world.
In the heart of dinosaur country a laconic trapper and a veteran mage risk treason to undertake a secret mission.
A brilliant magician and her beautiful assistant light up stages with the latest automaton, but the secrets both of them are hiding test their trust in each other and pit them against one of the most powerful men in the world.
At the wild edge of the Inland Sea, amidst crocodiles and triceratops, an impoverished young man and a Pinkerton Detective must join forces to outmaneuver a corrupt judge and his gunmen.
When I read the blurb for this book, I expected a dystopian steampunk mash-up of movies like Wild, Wild West, Jurassic Park, and an adult-ish version of The Last Airbender. I was not disappointed. While a lot of the themes were familiar, they were also mind-warpingly skewed, but in a good way.
You’ve got a throwback to America in the mid- to late-1800s with all the societal crap that came along with it: racism, prejudice, and classism along with a paranormal/fantasy type twist thrown in with Armageddon-like panache. This was a series of three short stories—though the first one was the longest—that spanned a few decades of time in this crazy world that Ginn Hale constructed. Incidentally, after reading Hale’s Cadeleonian Series beginning with Lord of the White Hell (my review), I’m beginning to get the urge to bow down as unworthy in the face of this author’s world-building skills. They are pretty spectacular, at least in the m/m genre.
There was one common thread throughout, namely a very rich someone named Mr. Moreau, who affected the MCs lives in each story either substantially or tangentially. It harkened my thoughts back to the mad scientist in another movie, The Island of Dr. Moreau. It made me wonder if that character wasn’t an inspiration for the author in some way, despite the fact that the Mr. Moreau in these stories wasn’t some evil bastard, just a rich tycoon with his fingers in a lot of pies. But I digress.
I won’t say this was the steamiest read because it wasn’t. There was plenty of chemistry, just not a whole lot of explicit follow through. For the most part, that was okay since I’m not sure if it would have added or subtracted from the realism. I’d like to think that even in puritanical America, people got freaky behind closed doors, but I don’t know that exploring that here would have done this title any favors. So … I was a little disappointed by the lack of heat, but not terribly surprised. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of these stories.
I don’t know if this was a one-off or not, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this world in Hale’s future titles, although I will confess, once again, to a marked dislike of short stories! I hope, if anything more is forthcoming, we get a full-length read next time.
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