Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Phoenix

Title: The Phoenix
Author: Ruth Sims
Genre: Historical, Romance, Gay Fiction
Publisher: Lethe Press; New Edition February 2009
ISBN-10 1590210468: ISBN-13: 978-1590210468

As someone who is not a fan of historical fiction, I’ll be the first to say that I’m glad that I put aside my dislike for the genre, and read The Phoenix. This was one of the best love stories that I’ve read in a long time.

The Phoenix is a complex love story between Kit St. Denys, the rich, artistic actor with a troubled past, and Nick Stuart, the chaste, conservative, religious physician. Kit St. Denys, born Jack Rourke, and twin to Michael, flees his brutally abusive father after his father kills Michael. Dirt poor, injured and frightened out of his wits, the teenaged Jack escapes to the local theatre where he works and encounters his friend, Lizbet. Lizbet takes him to stay with her wealthy cousin, Xavier St. Denys. It is there, with Xavier, that Jack Rourke rises like the Phoenix and becomes Kit St. Denys. As he enters manhood, handsome, amiable and rich, he encounters the Puritanical Nick Stuart, who grew up in an extremely oppressive religious household. There is an instant attraction, and the two begin an intimate, but forbidden, love affair. Nick is the only man who can keep Kit’s nightmares about his troubled past at bay. The big problem that Kit battles in his love for Nick is his unwillingness to share Nick with God. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings abound, and the “couple” go their separate ways, only to find one another later in New York, with Nick married with a baby on the way.

The hellish nightmares continue to haunt Kit, culminating with a bloody battle with his past. Will Nick be able to save the love of his life from himself? Will Kit ever be able to bury his troubled past? Will Nick’s wife see through his fa├žade and realize that Nick and Kit are in love? A roller coaster ride of emotions ensues, and multiple lives will never be the same. Not until the last chapter will you find out if the Phoenix rises yet again.

The Phoenix is a well-constructed love story with a solid plot. The main characters are so well-defined that you will get a clear, indelible picture of both Kit and Nick, and the minor characters advance the plot exceptionally well. The author did an excellent job of weaving a tightly knit plot and bringing everything to a final resolution.

From the first page to the last paragraph, I was hooked on this novel. I wasn’t exactly a fan of Kit’s until he faced his demons in New York, but after that he had me in his corner. I lost a few hours sleep reading this book because I didn’t want to put it down, but it was well worth it. Definitely one of the better books I’ve read this year. I give The Phoenix my highest recommendation.

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