Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-009-7
Paranormal Romance, 2008
Jamie Craig’s A Hidden Beauty is really lacking in details when it comes to the setting. I have no idea when this story is set in. The mention of the hero Micah Yardley using a coach to travel from Boston to the sleepy village of Wroxham early on has me guessing that this is a historical romance. The way the characters speak and the general feel of the story leave me with little doubt of that, but I have no idea when this story takes place. Late 19th century? Early 20th century? I have no idea.
Having said that, this one would have been a much more enjoyable story if it has ended 50 or so pages earlier, at that part where Micah returns to Wroxham to the angst-ridden poet Jefferson Dering. The story is simple: Micah travels to Wroxham to meet Jefferson, his idol, and to his delight, Jefferson actually agrees to look over some over Micah’s own scribbling. An attraction that could very well turn into a more intimate relationship develops between the two men, but Jefferson is still unable to move on from his blues about a boy in his past that led to his current exile from Boston.
Micah is bland and rather uninteresting as a pretty earnest fellow who worships every word that Jefferson puts on paper. He has some family issues especially when it comes to figuring out who he is as a person and how to step out of his father’s shadow, but he’s still a rather bland if nice fellow. On the other, Jefferson has that nice tortured artist vibe about him that is most attractive. He doesn’t overdo his whining or self-pity, in fact, he’s an adorable woobie who is hurt and in need of some TLC.
The scene where Micah returns to Jefferson is very nicely done and if the story ends there and then, it would have gone out on a romantic high note. But no, it has to go on and on involving some drama about a haunted church – yes, you’ve read that right – and I have to scratch my head and say, “Wait a minute – rewind, rewind!”
Until that bizarre turn when the story decides to move from the author’s personal Maurice to a The Amityville Horror wannabe, A Hidden Beauty is a simple but romantic gay story. I really wish the story has ended where I feel it should have ended, because the last few dozens of pages really diluted the effect of the reconciliation where I am concerned.