Title: Safe Harbor
Author: Elizabeth L. Brooks
Publisher: Torquere Press
Characters: Rafe Rysin,Tyver
Sub-Genre: Historical, Romance,
Rafe’s first dozen years were brutal, defined by privation in the slums of the free city Haven. When Maestro Servio, Haven’s finest shipwright, offers the boy a position as an apprentice, Rafe finds himself bewildered and confused by a world he’s never hoped to enter, and suffering nightmares, memories of the past he only wants to leave behind. In order to survive, he relies desperately on his fellow apprentice, Tyver.
As they enter adulthood together, Rafe realizes that his friendship with Tyver has grown into something deeper. He dreams of making Tyver his lover, but before that dream can come true, Rafe must set aside lessons of pain and fear that he’s learned all too well, and instead learn to trust not only Tyver, but himself.
Safe Harbor is the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth L. Brooks and it definitely won’t be my last! I loved the descriptive and highly addictive way Ms. Brooks writes. I picked up this book thinking I would read a few chapters tonight and finish it later, not realizing I would become immediately caught up in the interesting lives of her characters, and not be able to put the book down until I finished it hours later.
Ever since he can remember, Rafe has been peddling for his caretaker, Keffya. No matter how hard Rafe tries, he cannot please Keffya. For years, Rafe has endured both physical and mental abuse by him, and no matter what he does, nothing ever seems to please the older man. One day when Keffya is approached by a well-to-do, fat man and offers to give Keffya and Rafe room and board for sexual favors from Rafe, and unfortunately the young boy soon discovers another way he can be used and abused by others.
As time wears on, Rafe learns to carve beautiful things out of wood. This is his escape from his life of now being used by many men. One night, an older man, Maestro Servio, stops Rafe from being abused in the streets and takes the twelve year old Rafe in as his apprentice. To Rafe’s amazement, he’s given a roof over his head, food in his belly, clean clothes to wear and will learn to read and write for the most popular shipwrights. Rafe is also quickly introduced to Tyver, another one of Maestro’s apprentices. Both Rafe and Tyver are the close to the same age, and they quickly fall into a fast friendship.
As the weeks, months and years go on, Rafe learns the tricks of the trade from Maestro, and what it means to have a true friend from Tyver. Rafe and Tyver are practically inseparable, and Tyver has always been there for Rafe when he suffers from the many nightmares he has almost every night, where he relives the horrors of his past again and again. As the young boys grow into men, the feelings between them deepen as well as an attraction between them that will not be denied. But will Rafe be able to push past the horrors of his past, so he can have a loving, happy life with his best friend?
I loved this book! Both Rafe and Tyver are very well-written characters that I found myself liking immediately. Rafe is truly a survivor. He’s worked hard to make something of himself, yet still he’s haunted by the nightmare of his past. Only with Tyver does Rafe feel safe. Even when Rafe confesses his past to Tyver, Tyver still gives him unconditional love, friendship and acceptance that truly humble the troubled Rafe. I loved the way Tyver was patient with Rafe and never once threw his past up in Rafe’s face. Rafe in turn is always there for Tyver and gives him unconditional support and love throughout the novel. Watching both of them grow from boys to men was very enjoyable for me and I adored how deep the love and friendship they had for each other.
I’m afraid that some readers will be turned off from this book because of Rafe’s forced prostitution and abuse from Keffya. Because of this, I know this will not be for everyone, but I do urge you to give this book a try. Although, we’re very aware of what’s going on with Rafe, it’s just mentioned while Rafe is telling the story. Rafe does experience some PTSD trauma because of it, but with a wonderful mentor like the Maestro and because of Tyver’s unconditional love, Rafe is able to work through his demons and become a very strong and a quite remarkable hero. Highly Recommended!
Reviewed By: Gabbi