Thursday, October 24, 2013

W. A. Hoffman - Brethren

John Williams, the Viscount of Marsdale, libertine, duelist, dilettante, haphazard philanthropist and philosopher, is asked by his estranged father to start a plantation in Jamaica in 1667. He doesn't realize that he is going to the right island for the wrong reasons until he meets buccaneers and learns he has far more in common with the wild Brethren of the Coast than he does with the nobility of Christendom. Still, he questions joining them and leaving his title and the plantation behind, until he meets Gaston the Ghoul, a mysterious French buccaneer who is purportedly mad. He quickly decides that the freedom of the buccaneer life and even the mere chance of love that a man such as Gaston might offer are better than anything he could ever inherit. But even though Gaston seems intrigued by him, can the crazy Frenchman ever love him?

Comment: I got this book a long time ago. I thought it wouldn't be as interesting as that, although I did see many good reviews about it. Nevertheless, I left the poor book alone for a long time, always delaying its reading. This month I decided it was a long time coming and I had to read it.

This is the story of John William Marsdale, he's the heir to an earldom but something in his younger years sent him away from home, and he traveled the continent going to several places like Italy, Austria and France. He always knew he was fond of men more than women and in his travels he got to be all the characters he wouldn't be able to in his home country. Still, after 10 years away, he sees himself in trouble and decided it's time to go back, although his father might not want to see him anymore. However, as soon as he arrives he sees some changes to the life he knew and his father makes him an offer he actually accepts...

I really, absolutely loved this book! It's ore than 500 pages and I loved every minute I spent reading. This is a story of adventures and how people can grow up and see themselves for who they really are instead of just following conventions.

The story revolves around the buccaneers of the 17th century, a sort of pirates that had their own rules and goals. I thought the author's investigation was very complete and interesting and I enjoyed learning the many facts pertaining this group's existence. The author also leaves a lengthy list at the end of the book about her source of information.
Buccaneers were more than just pirates though. Many of those men had real relationships and for more than just handy excuses. I was very fascinated with all of this and how things happened in those days, specially in a part of the world I admit I don't have much knowledge of, except the most basic things, like it was the Caribbean islands in a century way, way distant from paradise vacations like it is nowadays. I liked the factual and history lessons quite a lot and as everything was included in the storyline and not dumped just because it made its reading much more interesting and thoughtful.

The fictional part is the history of John Marsdale, mostly known as Will, and how h travels to Jamaica to oversee his father new plantation. There he gets to meet several people and ways of life very different from the prim England society and he gets to develop his person with those people and with more freedom. He also meets Gaston, a French buccaneer he feels not only physically attracted to but also intellectually, because Gaston is intelligent and apparently shares Will's birthright and childhood experiences. The two guys have a lot in common and one of the most focal points in the story is how each one develops his own personality by being with the other and how together they manage to have a relationship based on trust, love, confidentiality, shared knowledge, philosophical thoughts and beliefs. I liked each one of them a lot and even more so when they act like a couple.
The guy's relationship isn't easy or carnal; it's more a meeting of minds and deep respect by what the other feels and thinks. I was very impressed with the level of character development in this story, the author was very smart and precise in depicting the most important facts to this story. I'm sure there's more to come, considering there are three more installments with a huge page count as well. By the way, I can't wait to have them!

This book was a constant source of emotions, of things happening which made possible for the reader to know those characters well and to want to see them have some happiness. There were many scenes to make us think, many ideas to wonder about and I can say this boo isn't basic. This is a thoughtful, well researched and intelligent story told with a purpose and to make the reader care and to think about what was happening and why the characters behaved in a way or said certain things.

I enjoyed this a lot and I wouldn't change much, just a little detail here and there more for personal taste than textual necessity. I do recommend this to anyone who enjoys historicals, interesting character development and of course, a romantic story full of special scenes to warm up your heart.
Grade: 9/10

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