Ian and Edward (ParisDude’s Review)


Title: Ian and Edward
Author: David McMullen-Sullivan
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: July 27, 2019
Genre(s): Historical Romance, Murder mystery
Page Count: 351
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.3 stars out of 5

Blurb:

If Jane Austen had written a gay romance with a murder mystery and time travel, this book would be it.

Edward Ford Westcott has accepted a position in a clandestine program that seeks to find answers to history’s greatest unknowns. He is sent back in time to 18th century England to investigate a woman’s murder and falls in love with Ian Gallihugh, the devote nephew of the soon-to-be victim, but when he and his partner, Angelica Law, are thrown into the upper echelons of English society, they soon discover that things are not what they appear to be. Edward’s relationship with Ian is soon in jeopardy, along with all their lives. Discovering the truth will leave the two men cornered, and they will be forced to make a terrible choice if they are to save their love.


When someone claims they have written a book “à la”—i.e. à la Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien, or Jane Austen, as in this case—, one should always be circumspect. Extremely circumspect. And any author should be just as circumspect to utter such a claim because expectations will be soaring high, and if they aren’t met, the readers will be all the more disappointed. So, let me tell you my subjective truth right away: this ain’t no effin’ Jane Austen. Not even remotely.

The storyline would have been promising. Two time-travellers from the 2020s (Edward and Angelica) go back to 1775 England. Their mission: to prepare the proper investigation of a murder the importance of which remains somewhat vague in the beginning (the reader is allowed to figure it out eventually). But due to a defect of their time-machine, they get stranded five weeks before their programmed arrival. They find a manor to let, but to stay under-cover and undetected by the locals as procedure would have it turns out nigh impossible. The village inhabitants, intrigued, knock on their door one after another, and soon, Edward discovers he’s falling head over heels in love with handsome Ian Gallihugh, son of the richest man in the county. Then, Edward and Angelica stumble upon a suspicious-looking suicide, and the time-travel agents they’re meant to liaise with are killed. It seems they have to investigate on their own, all the while trying to repair their time-machine. And winning Ian’s heart where Edward is concerned.

Properly handled, this could have been an entertaining read, and in parts, it was. But there were too many inconsistencies to make this even remotely believable. Angelica is forever repeating how important it is to stay off the radar and to have as little impact as possible on the (historical) goings-on, but both constantly do the reverse. This may help the plot, but this reader couldn’t help but shake his head more than once in disbelief. They mingle with the locals, they intervene, Edward even telling Ian at one point who he and Angelica really are. Worse, you’d think the secret agency that sent them would have chosen capable agents. Angelica seems to be just that, but Edward? He’s completely self-centred to the point of being reckless, oblivious to and impervious of what the mission requires and entails. You go back to 18th century England, for instance, you don’t get yourself a blow-job by another man mere minutes after having arrived; you’d wait until the late 1970s at least, your urges be damned! The murder mystery is interesting, but could have been explored more deeply, presenting us with several possible culprits to choose from—the deus ex machina-solution the author preferred is really not satisfying.

As I said, the plot idea is not bad per se. Imagine the contrast between two characters from the 21st century in the environment of the late 18th. How much wit, how much hilarious situations, how much thrill and tension you could have milked out of that. For instance, you could have had private dialogues between Angelica and Edward in modern language counter-balanced by public conversations in the manner of the time. In the manner of Jane Austen, as it were. But no, Edward and Angelica don’t make the least effort to speak differently with the (historical) locals, and those don’t speak like you would expect people of that time to speak, either. A missed opportunity. That’s what makes historical novels so difficult to write: you need to research the period of your setting very thoroughly so as to get the tone, the atmosphere, the colour, taste, and feel right. In this book, that wasn’t the case, alas. You could have set the story anywhere between now and the year 0.

The major flaw of this novel, however, is that it doesn’t seem to have been proofread at all. As if the author had written his piece and then published it immediately. Now, that doesn’t do. I can overlook the odd wrongly placed comma—I know I’m repeating myself, but as a rule, “but” and “and” are not followed by a comma. To add a comma to “a long, stone wall” is wrong, too, something which the author ignores consistently. The worst, however, wasn’t that, even if it is annoying in the long run. The author should have opened a Thesaurus, at least to check if he spelled the words correctly. You simply cannot write “boar” when it should be “bore”, “populous” instead of “populace”, “right” instead of “ride”, “speak your peace” instead of “speak your piece”. Not to forget the odd mistake “you’re”/”your”-“they’re”/”their”. And why in heaven would anyone write “he stood in solitary occupancy of the hall” to say “he stayed behind all by himself”? That’s horribly overwritten to the point of being ridiculous. Add some overlooked present tense verbs, some missing prepositions, and you’ll understand why I was rolling my eyes by the time I had finished the book (note that I always finish my books, even if “I’m not amused”, as the current Queen would say).

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Ian and Edward provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.

Author

Dieter, born and raised in Austria, studied Political Sciences in Vienna in the early 90s. He's living in Paris, France, with his boyfriend and working as a graphic designer. In his spare time, he loves to write, read, cook, take photos, and travel as often as possible. He’s already published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. His first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” featuring Damien Drechsler and the dashing Greek student Nikos has been released on Jan. 6, 2019, and is available in English, French, and soon German. Dieter is also writing reviews for Gay Book Reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude.