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Book Review: Roses in December by Fiona Glass

January 7, 2008

To the newbie in the world of m/m ebooks, there is a bewildering amount of choice, and to be very frank – rather like fanfiction – about 90% of what’s out there is awful. It makes wading into it in search of the gems a risky and expensive business. But every so often you come across a book which makes it all worth while, and ‘Roses in December’ is one of those for me.

Nat is a soldier recovering from Post Traumatic Stress after being trapped in a bombed nightclub in Northern Ireland. Sent to convalesce at Partington Towers, an out of the way nursing home in the depths of the country he struggles with his ill health, depression, and fear of being found out as a gay man, in an army where that would spell the end of his career. But Partington Towers is a more magical place than he suspects, and as he begins to explore its sumptuous but strangely confusing gardens he finds himself never wanting to leave. Of course, Richie, the gorgeous but enigmatic young man he meets in the gardens has a great deal to do with that. Both the gardens and the man tease Nat with mystery. But if he is going out of his mind, it’s a lot better than reality.

This is a beautiful, beautiful book. In fact, as I got to about three quarters of the way through I put it down for days and rationed my reading to a couple of pages a time because I simply didn’t want it to end. Fiona Glass’s writing is as sumptuous and enchanting as the gardens she describes so well. Her characters are living people, who aren’t always easy to like, but are always good company. Though having said that, I found myself head over heels in love with Richie. I can’t blame Nat for wanting to stay with him, though perhaps – for reasons which will become plain if you read the book – I should!

If I wanted to nitpick, I would say that possibly the National Trust parts of the book did not have the same energy or grip as the earlier parts, and perhaps it might have suited me better had things been wrapped up sooner once the mystery was solved. But that would be being ungrateful for a wonderful week spent immersed in a delicious and magical world. This deserves to be read and read, and I can’t recommend it enough.

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