Carina Press, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-4268-9186-1
Historical Romance, 2011
It’s 1866, and there is a war going on in Bohemia. Ah, but for Captain Rudolph von Ratzlaff and First Lieutenant Mathias Hofmann, it is also a time for forbidden boinking. Actually, the words they use are “fucked like dogs”, but let’s be a little more refined here, for the sake of the children. Finally, unable to deny the fact that they need to be together always and seeking a safe environment to do the doggy without fear, they decide to do the unthinkable: resign their commissions and run away from everything together, maybe to America, the land of gay cowboys. Of course, they have to finish the battle first, and that’s when Rudolph gets thrown off his horse and suffers from amnesia. No, he doesn’t remember who Mathias is. Poor Mathias’s eyes fill with tears. Has he lost his virile hunky lover forever to some wonky brain cells? Meanwhile, a pretty boy with sinister motives works to get his hands on Rudolph’s big red… money stash.
Muffled Drum has me scratching my head because… Well, on one hand it is an entertaining story. Mathias can be quite passive early in the story, but he is written that way by design as he will experience some epiphany later on that will allow him to grow out of his defeatist shell. Rudolph is the far more interesting character here as he displays some intriguing shades of grey in his motivations and actions here.
What has me scratching my head is that, at the end of the day, the author neatly removes the obstacles in these two men’s relationship in a manner that results in a “What, is that it? That’s all?” kind of conclusion. The last few chapters of this story are anticlimactic because everything falls into place so easily for our two men. The set up promises a complicated love story, but the payoff is not good as this story merely peters off limply into a happy ending instead of delivering an interesting climax.