Monday, May 22, 2017

Farlough by Xavier Mayne

Newly turned thirty, Cameron North is preparing himself to spend his life alone. When he inherits his great-aunt's teashop on the remote island of Farlough, he returns for the first time in more than a dozen years to a place where memories—and demons—flit close to the surface of his mind. There he meets Gwyneth, a sassy barista who becomes his instant best friend—until Cam discovers she’s the wife of his first love, Matthias. She has only the best of intentions when she arranges a reunion between the two men, and it forces them to finally discuss why Cam left the island so long ago.

With his heart broken anew, Cam retreats to his great-aunt’s house—where he learns he is not alone. Someone—or something—has pledged an oath to look out for Cam, and as he investigates the presence, he uncovers wounds that both he and his mysterious guardian sought to escape by coming to Farlough. Now Cam must figure out how to heal them—and himself.

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Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This story of a selfish, aging New York club kid who travels to a remote Scottish Island to secure his inheritance is the most conventional book I’ve read by Xavier Mayne. This is a gentle rural romance set in a timeless island community. As a longtime fan of the author, I was expecting high camp dramatics, slapstick humour, and steamy, smutty sex scenes. Instead, this is the quiet story of a thirty-year-old man reflecting on the life he has lived and the life he wants to live.

At the start of this book, Cameron is a very difficult character to like. He comes across as shallow and materialistic. As he settles into life on Farlough, he becomes more sincere and his relationships slowly start to feel more genuine. His growth as a character is slow, but I enjoyed watching him get more comfortable in his own skin.

There are almost two romance stories in this book. Cameron spends a great deal of time reflecting on his childhood first love – a story which is wonderfully sweet and sad. At the same time, the adult Cameron finds himself in a mysterious relationship laced with a hint of the supernatural. In a long, slow novel, the adult romance feels somewhat hurried. I enjoyed the two characters, but I wanted more tension and more of a build up to their relationship.

The island’s residents give this story colour and warmth. This is an idyllic view of village life. The islanders are quirky and eccentric and they are quick to welcome Cameron into their community.

So, this isn’t at all what I was expecting when I requested the book, but this story has a gentle charm that captured my imagination.

XAVIER MAYNE is the pen name of a writer who has been both a university professor of English and a marketing professional for software companies. He currently manages a team of writers for a large technology company based in the US Pacific Northwest. Versed in academic theories of sexual identity, he is passionate about writing stories in which men experience a love that pushes them beyond the boundaries they thought defined their sexuality. He believes that romance can be hot, funny, and sweet in equal measure.

The name Xavier Mayne is a tribute to the pioneering gay author Edward Prime-Stevenson, who also used it as a pen name. He wrote the first openly gay novel by an American, 1906’s Imre: A Memorandum. Unique among early gay novels, it tells the story of two main characters who are straight until they meet each other.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Farlough by Xavier Mayne to read and review.

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