Thursday, June 11, 2015

W.A. Hoffman - Matelots

Wherein, we follow the continuing adventures of the buccaneer Will and his beloved matelot Gaston as they contend with unexpected brides, the need for an heir, misunderstandings with the French, and Henry Morgan’s ambitions against the Spanish.
Conflicts arise, as Will, former libertine and duelist, haphazard philanthropist and philosopher, negotiates an ever-trickier path betwixt the requirements of his remaining the Viscount of Marsdale and his commitment to his matelot.
Amidst this, Gaston, exiled French nobleman, physician, renowned buccaneer and madman, must learn to control his madness before it destroys them both.
Together, they discover how to nurture love and passion in the face of war, tradition, and the demons of their pasts.

Buccaneer adventure/romance. The second of a series chronicling the relationship between an emotionally wounded and disenchanted English lord and an insane and lonely French exile, set among the buccaneers of Port Royal, Jamaica, in 1667.

Comment: Following my huge appreciation of the first volume in this epic story, I couldn't wait to keep reading about Will and Gaston and their adventures in the 17th century and how their relationship progressed at the same time they had to face new challenges and personal issues.

In this second volume, Will and Gaston have to deal with the problems in their relationship, not only those that happen because of their own personal issues, but also the fact they have duties to fulfill. They also have to plan for the future and face new people coming into their lives and what that means for them and their life in Jamaica.
After setting a powerful relationship in the first volume that was well respected by their fellow buccaneers, Will and Gaston still have their heritages to deal with and the fact they want a family. But things aren't simple and if not for the help of good friends all the surprises in this story wouldn't be easy to overcome...

Once more I dazzled by the amount of research the author certainly did to provide a strong and well structured story. Of course, the fictional part keeps as well engineered as I expected and here's a good example of talent leading the work.
Although this volume has some situations in terms of plot I think weren't as successfully introduced, I still liked the story a lot.

This story keeps up right after what happened in the first book. In fact, this is an epic story divided into four volumes and like the author said, it's not a series exactly.
There are several things Will and Gaston have to deal, from houses to furnish, to people to take care of and even other duties as planter owners concerning slaves and servants. Will is against this, but there's not much he can do if he wants to keep control of things. Just to give a reminder, Will the heir to a title in England and what he can do comes from that family line and the significance of what that means in terms of money, influence and power. So Will does things in a way to still be free but being able to help others as well.

In this book, we see Gaston and Will talking about a wife, because they consider themselves a family - and they are one! - but marrying and having children is the safest way to secure his title and what comes with it, and despite Will's reluctance, Gaston sees the need of a wife in order for them to also have children. This situation doesn't come without setbacks and challenges though. I think this whole aspect of the story is a necessity because this isn't a conventional romance. This is a love story set in a time where society was very different. 
Nevertheless, for plot purposes it's a necessity as well as a realistic way of portraying what surely happened in those days for people like Gaston and Will who saw themselves in that situation. For me, as reader, this means facing things I think are annoying for Will and Gaston's relationship. I feared how this would affect them, but they keep steady and sure of what they mean for each other, so, as long as this remains true, everything else I think was cleverly done and allowed the story to move forward.

There are more situations that are addressed and valuable for the feelings it evokes and makes possible to see and think about. I'm thinking about Will's challenges to the things he has in his charge, both the people and the assets.
But the the main issue that certainly made more readers think and (maybe) be disappointed in was a certain relationship that seemed settled and now something happened to disturb the peace. I'm talking about a matelot couple who also considers a wife in their middle. Things aren't as simple as this but I don't want to ruin the story. Let it just be said that one of the elements isn't much in favor and angst arises because of this. Things work out in the end though. But I don't think the way it worked out in the end is consensual to all readers based on the premise of what a matelot relationship is. Personally I'll keep waiting to see what happens and how things are really affected by this.

A lot of the beauty and strength of these books are set on the gay/matelot relationships. But I think it's important to keep in mind that many of those relationships weren't between two gay people, that circumstances made things that way an despite this not erasing the validity of such relationships and the feelings involved, there's also the need to say sometimes the couples were together first for safety and "working" reasons and emotional later on.

 I was really impressed by this novel. I think some aspects weren't as well conductive to make this perfect, but I can understand where this is all going and how, romance apart, the author tried to maintain a healthy dose of reality to the surroundings of everything.
Will and Gaston and the wife make a strange relationship. Hopefully things will change in the following book. Although, I do confess, as they aren't as deeply involved in the relationship, I also didn't feel that way. I foresee changes for them on this level.

All in all, this wonderfully set story has a lot to offer. I think the author must feel very happy with the way her work has come together. I can't wait to read the next volumes and see how Will and Gaston's story ends.
Grade: 8/10

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