And now for the second part of my contribution to Man Love Monday...(if you still haven't checked out the awesomeness on lisabea's blog, make sure you do!)
Now we move to a more somber and serious story. I’m a longtime reader and fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. When Lord John Grey showed up, I must admit that I wasn’t very fond of him. Mainly because he carried a torch for Jamie and I’m irrationally protective of Jamie. He’s Claire’s (and mine of course, but that doesn’t count), and I don’t want anyone else lusting after him. Like, I said…irrational. But since Lord John has started starring in his own series of mystery stories, my views on him have taken a complete turn.
I “read” Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade as an audiobook. There is something to be said about curling up in bed, in the darkness of the night and falling asleep gently to the sound of a story. Each night as I got further into the story and got to know Lord John better, the more I was intrigued by him. He’s a man of intense honor. A soldier who knows how to lead men and how to inspire loyalty. And yet, he must keep the most essential part of him a secret. I found it fascinating how LJ is both completely comfortable with his sexuality (in a conversation with a lover, he says that he’s never wished he was not gay) but yet completely in the closet. He HAS to be for the sake of his career, his family, and his very life. Being a gay man in 18th century England was not accepted. Indeed, there were repercussions far worse than simply being looked down upon. Dishonor, ruin, even prison and death.
This book is not a romance novel but does contain romantic elements. As far as the actual plot of the story is concerned, it is like any good Gabaldon tale. Long and seemingly meandering but everything falls together in the end. Long ago, the death of Lord John’s father cast a shadow of scandal over the entire family. Although it was accepted a suicide, LJ is certain that it was in fact murder and new information prompts him to undertake a quiet investigation. In the meantime, his regiment is preparing to reenter the war in mainland Europe, he embarks on a new love affair and all the while manages to balance everything with his trademark wit, grace and dry sense of humor that makes him such a memorable character. Something that I particularly enjoyed was the delicate and unspoken dance of words, gestures and double meanings that serve to convey meaning between himself and other gay men right in plain view of everyone. For an excellent example, check out the following excerpt.
As it happened, I was listening to this book at the same time I was reading My Fair Captain. The juxtaposition of gay men in an open society vs. gay men in a closeted society was really quite interesting. It made me very sad that Lord John would never be able to openly experience a loving relationship with a partner of his choice. By the end of the book, I was aching for him and what seemed to be a lonely future stretching before him. I know that Gabaldon isn't finished with him yet and he still has a role to play in the Outlander books, so I'll continue to hope that he finds some measure of happiness. And I'll continue to have a little crush on him.