Another Place in Time is a historical anthology featuring works by six fabulous authors and a forward by Alex Beecroft. The editor notes that the anthology came about as she was previously not a historical reader, but upon discovering some wonderful works she had a change of heart and now wanted to get the word out about the pleasure to be found in historical stories. I personally enjoy historicals, but have noted that many m/m readers aren’t big fans of this genre, so I am excited about this anthology and hope it changes some minds.
I found Beecroft’s introduction particularly interesting. She notes the importance of historical stories to the GBLT romance genre as they provide evidence that the GBLT community has been around for years and that it is part of our shared history. She notes:
If you read the stories and you think, “Yes, by God, we have been in this world forever. We belong here,” then you’ve put down a root that maybe you didn’t have before. And roots are essential if a plant is going to thrive.
All proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to AllOut.org. So a great cause and a really great anthology. I definitely recommend it.
Office Romance by Tamara Allen
Rating: 4 stars
Foster Wetherly has worked for three months at Manhattan Security Mutual, and he knows he is in trouble the day they bring in a new efficiency expert. As one of the last people hired, Foster figures he will be among the first to go as they company undergoes some restructuring. So he is pleased, if still wary, when instead of being fired he is matched up against Casey Gladwin, another recent hire. The men are told that they will be pitted against one another and their performances compared to decide which of them will keep his job.
Foster figures he should have it fairly easy as Casey seems to spend a lot of time flirting with the secretaries and is not nearly as dedicated as Foster himself. Yet as the days go by, Foster finds himself having trouble keeping up and getting increasingly worried about his job. After coming back from the war he suffered a debilitating flu, and this job is one he sorely needs to help his family. Foster is tempted to do whatever he can, even play a bit dirty, to ensure the victory. But as he gets to know Casey, he actually begins to like the man, and they find common ground as they both fight to keep their jobs. In fact, soon the men realize that their feelings for one another are growing, and they are less interested in beating each other. They must hope when things resolve they can have both their jobs and their budding relationship
I really liked the set up for this one and enjoyed the workplace battle story line. The post war years are not a common time for most historicals I read, so I particularly liked the setting and seeing how these two men are adapting to life after their military duty. I enjoyed seeing Foster and Casey make their transition from enemies of sorts (or at least at odds with one another) to realizing that they actually liked one another and could be friends. I found the jump to a relationship to be quite abrupt, however. I never saw anything beyond friendship and suddenly the two jump into a physical relationship. Given the time period, I am kind of surprised that one of the men would just kiss the other without any kind of build up to suggest returned inclination or affections. Then by basically the next day they are ready to move in together. I just never felt we really get to know these guys much individually or together, and found the jump to a relationship happened too quickly for me to really accept. Despite that, I did like this one and found it a nice start to the anthology.
Introducing Mr. Winterbourne by Joanna Chambers
Rating: 4.75 stars
Lysander Winterbourne is the third son of a family whose wealth has been squandered through his father’s gambling. His sister has recently become engaged to a man from a wealthy industrial family and Lysander has been asked to show the fiancé’s brother about town. Lysander’s father sees Adam Freeman as far beneath them, as he is in trade, but Adam is paying off the family debts, so they must be friendly. For his part, Lysander was hoping to spend time working on the family estate, but he reluctantly agrees to introduce Adam around.
The two men spend an unpleasant day visiting drawing rooms and meeting other members of society. Lysander is shocked by how rude his set is to Adam, treating him with disdain as he is a working man, not aristocracy like them. It is clear Adam resents every moment of being with these people and refuses to cater to them. Things seem to be destined to be tense and uncomfortable for the next few days until Adam and Lysander find some common ground and form an unlikely friendship. As it turns out, both men are feeling an attraction to one another as well, but they must take a risk to share their real feelings with each other.
Oh, I just loved this one! I am huge fan of Chamber’s writing and this story is so nicely done. It is such an interesting set up as these men come from totally different social classes and we see the prejudices on each side. While Lysander is open and welcoming, it is clear that most of his social group looks down upon Adam as working class. This despite the fact that he is bailing the Winterbournes out of debt. He will never be accepted or treated as an equal. For his part, Adam sees most of the gentry as rude and boorish and lazy. He has no patience for their behavior or for being treated as second class. So I really liked seeing these two men come together from these different worlds and find a friendship and affection for one another. Both of them are quite good men underneath, and we slowly see that connection build throughout the day. I also particularly liked the juxtaposition of experience between the men. Throughout the day, Lysander is serving as Adam’s guide to this aristocratic world. Then when the men ultimately get together physically, it is Adam with the experience who guides Lysander along.
I loved the way things wrap up here and Chambers manages to give us a really complete, well rounded story in just a short length. While we don’t reach an HEA in a day, it is clear that something is building between them and we can imagine very clearly how things might work out for them. I totally loved this story and adored both men. This was my favorite story of the anthology.
The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh by K.J. Charles
Rating: 4.25 stars
Gabriel Ashleigh has just lost everything in a drunken night of gambling. As a younger son, his father wants him to join the military and the only thing keeping Gabriel independent is some money he inherited. Now he has lost his home and his money gambling with Francis Webster and, at this point, he is facing nothing but ruin.
When Gabriel is asked to come by Francis’ house, he sees no choice but to go, but he isn’t expecting anything to change. Gabriel generally thinks of Francis as cool and callous, though the men do have a history. First Gabriel’s brother fought with Francis at school, and then he himself had a run in with the man. Gabriel feels bad for his behavior, but it didn’t stop him from getting drawn into wagers he couldn’t handle and now his future is bleak. Yet Francis surprises Gabriel with his request, and as the men spend some time together, they begin to learn more about each other and find a surprising connection. It may turn out that Gabriel’s life isn’t quite ruined after all.
This is a short and sweet story with a light dose of enemies to lovers thrown in. Gabriel and Francis have been at odds for years, though Gabriel regrets his rude behavior. He knows he was an idiot to gamble with Francis and now he is paying the price. I liked that despite some stupid mistakes, we see Gabriel own up to what he has done and apologize sincerely, not just to get Francis to change his mind. I enjoyed the interplay between the men and the heat as they ultimately get together. I did wish to get to know Francis a bit more. We learn about what is motivating his behavior on this day, but I wanted to get to know him more in general. But overall, I thought this was a lot of fun and I enjoyed seeing these men move past their initial conflicts and find a connection together.
Unfair in Love and War by Kaje Harper
Rating: 4.75 stars
Warren Burch has been living and working in Philadelphia, but after losing his job, he has moved home to be closer to his family. After his brother was killed in the war, he knows his mother could use the help and the company. With a limp from polio, he can’t fight himself, but he is determined to do what he can for the war effort.
When Warren sees some kids vandalizing his neighbor’s home, he meets Stefan Koehler. Stefan moved into the house next door with his great aunt, but after her death he has been living alone. Blond, Teutonic, and with a heavy accent, Stefan has been the subject of much hostility as America fights the Germans. Despite the fact that he is Swiss, his windows are repeatedly broken and his house is painted with swastikas.
The two men become friends and quickly recognize a mutual attraction. Warren figures that the gorgeous, young Stefan will move on once he gets his bearings in America, but he is happy to enjoy their affair while it lasts. The two men grow closer and feelings are growing between them, but the continued vandalism and Stefan’s past may get in the way.
I just loved this story and really enjoyed the war time setting. Harper does a great job of really immersing us in life during WWII. Between the rationing and the home front war effort, we learn a lot about what life was like during these years. And of course, we see the prejudices that poor Stefan faces as people see him as the enemy in this small town. My heart broke for him as he comes home time and again to see windows broken and his home defaced. I loved how supportive Warren is, ready to fight for Stefan and do whatever it takes to help him. Right from the start Warren opens his heart to Stefan, even before he knows there might be hope for more between them. This is the longest story in the anthology and it is quite well developed. Harper gives us a really fascinating look at life in the early 1940s and creates two very endearing characters in Warren and Francis.
Carousel by Jordan L. Hawk
Rating: 4.5 stars
When detective Griffin Flaherty is approached by a man whose son has gone missing, he quickly agrees to help. From hearing the story, it sounds like some kind of sorcery is at play, and Griffin knows his partner Percival Endicott Whyborne is a good person to bring along as well. It turns out the boy was drawn by a blue light to a carousel that is closed for the winter. When Whyborne and Griffin arrive, they encounter the true horrors of what is really going on. With the help of some sorcery and lots of bravery, the two men fight to stop the evil and save the boy.
Carousel is part of Hawk’s larger Whyborne & Griffin series, a series I am embarrassed to say I have not yet read. I have heard nothing but the most excellent things about it, and I intend to remedy that omission right away. But in the meantime, I had no trouble following along with this excellent short. It takes place between Stormhaven and Necropolis, and does touch on some personal issues with relation to Griffin’s family and things he is dealing with surrounding his parents and his siblings. However, the personal details just fill out the story, and I could easily jump in to the relationship between these two men and the mystery they face without having read the other books.
The story is a nice mix of mystery and suspense with magic thrown in. We get a good feel for these men as a couple, as well as the world Hawk has created. This mystery part is kind of dark with some scary elements, which I really enjoyed, and overall it is quite exciting. For new readers like me, this story was the perfect little taste to reinforce my desire to read the larger series. And for fans of Whyborne & Griffin, this little interlude is a great addition to the series.
Deliverance by Aleksandr Voinov
Rating: 3.75 stars
Brother William Raven is a Templar Knight, fighting for Christianity. When he and his fellow Templars come to the aid of some Christian pilgrims being attacked by the Saracens, William unexpectedly encounters a man from his past. William joined the Templars to put his past behind him, but seeing Guy de Metz again stirs up old feelings. The men had been lovers and got into all kinds of wild things together, but for the past six years William has dedicated himself to his vows. But William had made promises to Guy as well, and he knows he can not have both Guy and the Templars. Now that Guy wants him back, William must figure out what his future holds.
I am a big fan of Voinov’s writing and I really enjoyed the addition of a story set in this more distant time period. I liked the conflict William faces as he looks to his past with Guy and his more recent vows with the Templars. Voinov does a nice job with the setting and atmosphere and really develops the time period nicely.
I ran into a little trouble here just because I didn’t feel like I fully grasped everything in the story. I understood that William joined the Templars to put his past behind him, but I was never really clear what motivated him to leave Guy in the first place. I found the shared history between them a little hard to follow. Then the story ends with no real resolution to the conflict (at least that I could understand) between the two men and so I’m unclear which path William chooses to take. Given that the plot for this story is fairly simple — the guys are reunited and must figure out if they are going to be together — I feel like I needed more clarity into their past problems and what their future will hold. Deliverance is a revised version of a previously published story by the same name, and William is featured in Voinov’s book Lion of Kent. So I am wondering if perhaps this story isn’t mean to be a fully stand alone. But either way I was left feeling like things were somewhat unfinished.
All that said, I enjoyed the story and think it was a nice ending to the anthology.