Title: Loving Peter
Author: Bonnie Dee
Publisher: Amber Allure
Characters: Peter Woods, Wendell Rhodes
POV: Third Person, alternating POV
Sub-Genre: mm romance/historical
Peter Woods is a young man who’s content to live a gadfly life, darting from one experience to the next with no thought of the future. But his father has cut the purse strings and soon Peter may have to make a drastic change.
Wendell Rhodes is a stable, sober banker who has only recently discovered the underground gay nightlife in turn-of-the-century London. At a secret club, Ever Lads, Wendell meets Peter and flint meets tinder.
But the journey from lust to love is never easy. Peter’s father is determined to make a man of his son at last. When Wendell is threatened, will Peter sacrifice his freedom to save the man for whom he’s grown to care deeply, or is there another way clever Peter can save the day?
It’s the dawn of the 20th Century in London, England, and homosexuality is regarded not only as an unthinkable perversion but also a criminal activity. Men who love men meet in secret and congregate in clandestine private clubs such as Ever Lads, the fictional locale where Peter Woods and Wendell Rhodes first encounter one another.
Peter is the impudent, spoiled little rich boy who refuses to grow up. Living off his father’s money, Peter has no interest in pursuing a career or supporting himself. He’s nearly thirty years old but behaves like a schoolboy. Having dropped out of college and carelessly squandered his father’s generous financial endowment, Peter now faces his father’s wrath. His allowance has been slashed, and his father is threatening to cut him off completely unless he enlists in the military. Peter refuses to take such threats seriously, though. To do so would be require that he face the realities of life like a man, and Peter is committed to ever remaining a boy–carefree and blissfully irresponsible.
Wendell is quite the opposite of Peter in nearly every imaginable way. He epitomizes stability and personal responsibility. Wendell is the pride and joy of his parents, and has a deep and abiding connection to his family, particularly his two brothers, one of whom is is away at university and the other in boarding school. Wendell is pursuing a career in the banking industry, following in his father’s footsteps, and is in line for a promotion.
Everything about Wendell is transparent. He is innocent and sincere, and he has very deep emotions which he quite stoically conceals beneath his professional demeanor. When he and Peter initially encounter each other, Wendell is mesmerized by Peter’s charm, but he’s cautious. He wants more than just a frivolous romp. He desires to learn who Peter really is and connect with him emotionally.
To Peter’s chagrin–and astonishment–Wendell is able to open something inside of his heart. He finds himself confiding his deepest feelings, things he’s never before confronted. He discovers that much of his behavior stems from unexpressed grief he has harbored for years over the loss of his mother and sister. He’s felt unloved by his father and realizes he’s a terrible disappointment to the man who raised him. Peter at first is uncomfortable with these realizations. He rationalizes that his relationship with Wendell means nothing to him–it’s just another of many affairs. But in his heart, he knows he’s been affected. He knows he will never be the same.
Devastating events transpire that threaten to permanently separate Peter and Wendell, and Peter eventually must confront his father. Wendell also must face his own demons and figure out a way to maintain the familial bonds he so cherishes while remaining true to his own identity. Peter and Wendell are stricken by each other, deeply and madly in love, but they live in a time and place where such feelings are forbidden What, other than tragedy, can ever become of them?
This story touched my heart in a way few other love stories ever have. I was able to connect with both central characters, and I cared for each of them immensely. The setting was portrayed so beautifully that I felt as if I’d been transported back in time. I felt anger and frustration toward the establishment, and my heart broke for the gay men who were so cruelly ostracized and denied even a semblance of respect and dignity.
Though generally not a fan of historicals, I was captivated by this story, and it was cover-to-cover read for me. I couldn’t put it down. I laughed and wept and at times cheered. This beautifully-written tale of romance and forced-separation is most definitely a must-read. I highly recommend it
Reviewed By: Jeff