ErastesMere MortalsLethe Press, March 23, 2011
Links: Author’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here
Orphaned Crispin Thorne has been taken as ward by Philip Smallwood, a man he's never met, and is transplanted from his private school to Smallwood’s house on an island on the beautiful but coldly remote, Horsey Mere in Norfolk. Upon his arrival, he finds that he's not the only young man given a fresh start. Myles Graham, and Jude Middleton are there before him, and as their benefactor is away, they soon form alliances and friendships, as they speculate on why they’ve been given this new life. Who is Philip Smallwood? Why has he given them such a fabulous new life? What secrets does the house hold and what is it that the Doctor seems to know?
Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Historical, England, 1847, Guardian/Ward, Secrets, Mystery/Suspense
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1.5 out of 3
After reading the backblurb of Mere Mortals I had no clue of what to expect from this historical romance. Especially not in the romance department. Well, it actually stays unsure until far into the story who will ‘hook up’ with who. And I can tell you that it’s not the couple I was expecting at first. Now, after finishing the book, I can see why the blurb has been kept this vague. Great part of the allure of this excellent story lays in the uncertainty of the romantic and dramatic developments. Its build-up is slow but suspenseful and in my opinion brilliantly done.
Mere Mortals is actually the first book by Erastes I’ve read and I’m glad that she asked me – a long, long time ago – to review it, because I tend to steer away from historical romances most of the time. It’s probably why it took me so long to finally pick this book up. But now more than ever I have to admit that my subconscious reluctance to read this particular genre is really unfounded. With authors as Ava March and Erastes and their skillfully applied pens it’s impossible to not like the genre.
What I probably loved most about Mere Mortals is how it’s a character driven plot with layered and three-dimensional characters. The story is told from Crispin’s point of view throughout the book, but yet we get a good deal of character development on the part of the other protagonists as well. Crispin and his two fellow wards, Myles and Jude, are all three very differentiated young men with each their own way of talking and acting.
Although it’s a character driven story there’s still plenty of plot development too. But especially in the beginning not much is happening. When the suspense is building and building we get a few more action scenes, which are highly dramatic. By that time I was turning the pages as fast as I could and I refused to put the book down no matter what. Unfortunately I can’t tell much about the plot developments, or it will take away the thrill of your own reading experience.
Another aspect I truly enjoyed in Mere Mortals is how vivid and detailed the surroundings are described. The three boys are transplanted from their schools to their benefactor’s, Philip Smallwood’s, house on an island on the beautiful but remote, Horsey Mere in Norfolk. It’s midwinter, snowy and cold, which only underlines the isolation they are in and the grisly desolation of their situation. The descriptions of the mansion and the area are beautiful and lifelike, and they made me feel as if I was there. I could see myself wandering from room to room in that big house, together with Crispin. And I loved the historical references and idiom. The vivid portrayal of the setting made this novel in the end even more breathtaking for me.
There’s actually not much that I didn’t like about this story. It has great characters, has plenty of suspense and drama (but not too much), it’s well written with a vivid setting and the plot surprised me (in a good way) more than once. One thing I haven’t spoken about yet is the romantic arc. I don’t want to spoil anything about the possible relationship(s) in this story, so it’s not easy to discuss this aspect. But I can say that it was satisfying to see which characters found their HEA together. Their relationship isn’t very much on the foreground, only towards the end a bit more. And if you expect a lot of hot and elaborate sex scenes you will be disappointed. It’s not that there isn’t any on-page sex at all however. For me the balance between the romantic, dramatic and suspense elements in Mere Mortals worked really well. It is a memorable, compelling novel that definitely goes on my Favorite Reads shelf.