Review: Smokescreen by Stevie Woods

Lord Richard Douglas (known as Chard to his best friend Julian) has just returned from the continent with a new wife. Sir Julian – seeing them together realises he loves his friend in a way that would not be acceptable to law or society.

Review by Erastes

This is a very simplistic story which way overstayed its 12,000 words by at least half.

Quite readable, but no more than a PWP and very little porn to reward you for wading through the previous 11,500 words. It’s reminiscent of one of those Harry Potter fics where Sirius and Remus struggle with the realisation that they are gay and then end up boinking at the end.

And I couldn’t find anyone called after a type of spinach arousing… I’m not Popeye.

There’s far far too much angst. Six thousand words of repetitive angst where both men wankst on internally about how much they love each other and how the other one must never know and how it can never be when this could be dealt with quite swiftly, and have the story move along to some substance.

Another problem for me was that the author sets “Chekov’s gun” up in the first couple of paragraphs with a reference that Lord Douglas’ new wife is no better than she should be, but the gun never really goes off – so there was a promise that the plot could have been – well, a plot – but I was left feeling let down that there wasn’t any to speak of.

As to historical accuracy, I lost my eyebrows to my fringe a couple of times; there’s no mention at all of the fact that Europe is plunged in a bloody war for a start. Then there’s this quote which nearly had me ripping the thing in half

Softly interrupting, Richard asked, “Are you afraid?”

Julian frowned, puzzled. “Afraid?”

“The sentence is still death. I know it hasn’t been carried out in decades, but still, it would mean prison…Is that what’s worrying you?”

Julian was concerned, though. “Conviction is very difficult, but just an accusation…I just don’t want to ruin your life.”

Um – No. Sorry, Stevie Woods, but During the first thirty-five years of the nineteenth century more than fifty men were hanged for sodomy in England. The law had to prove BOTH penetration and ejaculation to make it a hanging offence – but a lot of accusations were reduced to assault with a sodomitical intent, which meant at least six months in prison, sometimes with the pillory and a very hefty fine.

I suppose part of the reason that I do point this kind of inaccuracy out is that I don’t want gay regency to follow the leader in the way that some heterosexual regencies do – where Heyer is considered canon. It was illegal, it was a death sentence, to say nothing of queer bashing, and a complete loss of reputation.

Talking of penetration… When we get to the sex I found it more textbook than arousing, and found it a little bit strange that Julian, who had never done anything with men was (from what he’d learned in books – and I’d have liked to know which books?) more knowledgeable about what to do than Richard who admitted that he had had sex with men at least a couple of times before, and really, the men were a little too girly for my taste.

So all in all, I was disappointed. I’m always excited to find a gay Regency, but this just didn’t do it for me. But if you are a fan of angsty feminine men, and don’t give a stuff about period feel, then you’ll probably like it more than I did.

Author’s website

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One Response

  1. […] August 18 Smokescreen by Stevie Woods “This is a very simplistic story which way overstayed its 12,000 words by at least half.” […]

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