To have kept you as my beloved was both my greatest joy and my deepest sorrow.
Henri has been alive for centuries. His current role is that of a courier of souls and Henri deals with the most difficult deaths and the most resistant souls. It’s not what he is supposed to be doing, but he’s been working off penance that seems to be never ending, especially since he has not been allowed to regain his “bloodborn” body. There are rules that Henri must follow and he cannot interfere with the lives of humans and he cannot bond with one. But when he sees Orlando, the young boy shines like no other, and Orlando can see Henri as well.
Years pass and Orlando can never forget Henri and looks for him around every corner. When Henri saves Orlando from those that wish to cause him harm, a bond is formed and Henri watches over Orlando and keeps him safe. As Orlando becomes an adult, Henri is the only one that can satisfy Orlando’s desires and the two begin an erotic relationship that defies reason and the men cannot stay away from each other. But relationships between mortals and immortals are forbidden and when Orlando gets in way over his head, the gods will not rest until the most precious thing of all is sacrificed.
Self Published Book Week is often a good week for me and I was fortunate to find this book. Creative and erotic, emotional and heartbreaking, Book of Orlando is a book that delivers. With an intriguing plot and a unique opening, we meet Henri first. The year is 1986. The book alternates between first and second person, which sounds impossible, but Lascarso makes it work. It seems at first that Henri is telling Orlando about their first meeting and then their subsequent relationship: It was on that particular bleak day in the summer of 1986, when I encountered you on an empty playground…. The book then pulls in and out of time with scenes of the men directly together and then moments where they are subtly recounting events. There is a reason, there is most definitely a reason, and that reason is what might possibly break your heart.
It’s not possible to simply break this complex story down, but I can offer a little background. Henri is immortal. He is half human and, for the other half, he is sometimes referred to as half angel and sometimes as half demon. He currently works for Azrael collecting souls, which greatly distresses his demon mother. Henri does not have his own body any longer; it’s being kept from him, and in order for the men to be together, Henri needs a host and this is attempted or accomplished in several ways throughout the book.
Orlando grew up with his single mother and trauma found him often. From sexual abuse to bullying, the streets of Miami were harsh for a young gay dancer. Henri wasn’t looking for Orlando, but Orlando found him and then it seemed destined that Henri would always be with him. But a relationship between a mortal and the divine is forbidden and Henri has been warned. Orlando refuses to give up on Henri and if any line sums up Orlando’s feelings it’s when he tells Henri, “You helped me find myself and lose myself at once” and that one line could encapsulate this entire story.
There are parts of this book that are violent and abusive and morally ambiguous. Henri and Orlando have a jealous, possessive, and obsessive claim to each other, but their love for each other shatters boundaries. There are also parts to this book that are erotic as Henri shows virginal Orlando all the pleasures that his body can provide. Henri is patient and kind and ensures Orlando is protected and taken care of as his desires rise up.
This is the start of a trilogy and the ending here could leave you breathless. It’s amazing to find a book that has an innovative storyline that at times edges darker and at others plunges deep into those darkest parts of man and immortal. There is no HEA at this point, but there is hope. The second book, which has already been released, may build on that hope as Orlando has put all of his faith in Henri.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of ten HUGE prize bundles donated by some fabulous self published authors (you can see the full prize list here)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on Self Published Book Week here.