Author ~ Alex Beecroft
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 21st November 2016
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Historical, Ancient
Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.
Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?
The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.
It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.
Ever since I read Mary Renault’s The King Must Die (I was about 8, the ‘rents didn’t care what I read as long as I was quiet) I’ve been fascinated by the civilisation that flourished on Crete but have had to make do with reading archaeological texts. Fiction is rare but this – oh this is fantastic. There is so much going on here that I could do some embarrassing and random gushing. Instead I’ll take a moment to get my thoughts in order – deep breath!
Okay. Who doesn’t like a well described ancient world setting? Especially one for which we have such amazing images, courtesy of the 19th century archaeologists, and amazing mental images courtesy of the story of Theseus, hero of Athens.
Well in this case the beautifully described settings are very much from the point of view of the Cretans, who are very egalitarian in their relationships, unlike the misogynistic, opportunistic Greeks. There’s no problem at all if Kikeru decides he wants to be a woman – he can gain huge status by joining the priestesses in the temple – or a man – he can learn a craft, become a trader. The world is his, as long he makes his mind up. A lot of the relationship angst is derived from Kikeru’s unwillingness to commit to one or the other and his disbelief that his friends and family are so blind. How can they not see that he is both?
Additional angst is piled on when he meets Rusa, who makes it plain that he fancies Kikeru something rotten until he discovers that he’s from the temple, and even more in that he overheard two Greeks apparently plotting an attack on the town.
There are so many interesting ideas explored here. How Kikeru’s bi-gender presentation was fine as a child but that as an adult he is expected to choose. That on Crete is is the women who have spiritual and a lot of secular power. That a civilised society can be left in disarray when another society that plays by different rules refuses to take them seriously. That the myths may have a basis in fact and a brand new interpretation that explains them.
I found the book huge fun and read it, letting out little whoops of delight when I spotted things I recognised. Kikeru is a delight and my heart was won by big sensible Rusa, who can’t quite believe his luck in getting a lover who is just so unusual and inventive. And not in the usual way, either. I wouldn’t have described the book as erotic, though the relationships are very touching.
So, lovely descriptions, nicely paced plots and characters I’d love to meet. Great fun.
Connect with Alex Beecroft
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.