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Frontiers
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful story, engaging characters, and a profound sense of life on the frontier! I'm hooked, Mr. Jensen. More, please!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Frontiers! Is an excelent novel. Its characters are believable and vibrant the story line spellbinding and captivating.
I started this book two days ago. From almost the first moment I could not put it down. There are so many elements that work together to create this stunning tale.
There is the western theme, and the baldly erotic scenes mixed in with an engaging tapestry of horror, all woven together by a master storyteller. I loved my visit to the old west.
Being a romantic I was a little disapointed with the ending, but I guess Mr. Jensen was leaving room for what is to come. Mr. Jensen says that he was trying to write about somewhere other than NY or SF well he did it and he did it quite well.
Over all I'd say this is a definte must buy. Do yourself a favor and try something new and refreshing. Read Frontiers!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In my opinion the perfect novel has two qualities. It grabs the reader and doesn't let go until well after the book has been read, and it makes use of language in a way that makes it a joy to read.
"Frontiers" has both of these qualities. From the moment I started the book, I literally could not put it down. The characters are wonderful, and the story itself is a wonderful blend of romance, erotica, adventure, and even horror. It is beautifully written, filled with passages that beg to be spoken out loud. It is so rare these days to find an author who can both write an enjoyable story and honor the sacredness of the written word. With "Frontiers," Michael Jensen has done both. I hope he writes another novel soon!
I cannot recommend this book enough. It should be read not only by gay men, but by everyone who appreciates good literature.
(P.S. - Thank you so much, Michael, for contacting me and asking me to check out your book!)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 1999
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I purchased this book mainly out of curiosity, to see how gay characters would be portrayed in a historical novel. But I was quickly drawn into the story of John Chapman, and found it difficult to abandon the book for very long over the course of a weekend. The author obviously put a lot of research and time into his novel, and I was especially impressed with his ability to describe antiquated terms without distracting the reader from the story. In the end, I enjoyed the banding together of the "misfits" into a real community of trust and mutual concern. It is doubtful there is much documentation of actual same-sex relationships from this part of history, and I think Michael Jensen did an outstanding job of weaving history, romance, and suspense in a page-turning tale.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Jensen's debut novel has been much maligned for its anachronistic dialogue and attitudes, and with much justification. The book's greater crime, to me anyway, seems to be the inconclusive characterizations and unconvincing relationships. The "affair" between Chapman and McQuay, for instance, seems a thing of contrivance rather than a relationship based on any genuine sentiment or need. And the fact that Chapman has, up to that point, been portrayed as rather passive if not meek is turned on its head when he takes the "lead" role, so to speak, in the big bathtub sex scene with McQuay. It is such an erotic, turbulent, and well-done "coupling" that the reader expects a new and more intimate dimension to their relationship to be explored. It never is. Instead they become instant adversaries, their relationship doing a complete 360. Other connections between characters have that same uneasy sense of start and stop, as though Jensen were not entirely sure which way he wanted his novel to go.
Another grievance would be the excessive gratuitous violence perpetrated upon animals. I know this is the frontier, where gentility was more often than not alien and the whole notion of humane treatment towards animals was nascent, but really some of the scenes (the early one with the captive rabbit especially) seem unnecessary and are upsetting. The novel would definitely never receive a citation from PETA.
Still FRONTIERS is pleasurably paced and easy to read. Jensen has done his homework with regard to customs, geography, topography, flora and fauna, and the day to day struggle of these people trying to make new lives for themselves; he is able to give us a fairly convincing portrait of this tumultuous time in American history. And who knows, perhaps he has ushered in a new pop literary genre that will result in better, more ingratiating novels.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
So, I just finished Frontiers by Michael Jensen. I didn't have high expectations when the best blurb on the back cover said that the book was "invigorated by hot sex scenes in bathtubs and amid thunderstorms..." Believe it or not, that doesn't make me want to buy a book. If I wanted to buy a book for the sex scenes, I'd go pick up a copy of one of the Friction series. (Oh look...there's a new one out...hmmmm...)

I picked Frontiers up, because frankly there hasn't been anything out in a while and I was still waiting for the new Alan Hollinghust novel.

The book wasn't horrible, but the characters were all just types, not real people. There's the stereotypical gay greenhorn who is helped by the stereotypical knowing frontiersman, and who then has to escape the knowing frontiersman but is helped by the stereotypical wise Native American woman. There are the stereotypical pushy settlers who try to get the stereotypical greenhorn to marry their stereotypically ugly daughter. And, the stereotypical, young, nubile gay iconoclast. This is a romance novel. It should have Fabio on the cover in a coon-skin cap. Some of the other reviewers discuss the "historical accuracy" of this novel. I'm afraid they haven't done much research themselves. Yes, there was indeed a person named John Chapman who was the basis for the American Myth of Johnny Appleseed. But that's where the accuracy ends.

Frankly I was surprised that the western frontier of Pennsylvania was such a cornucopia of hot man-on-man action in 1797. Pennsylvania isn't much like that now, I'm afraid. I also learned that frontier people are made of sterner stuff than us wusses today. You can throw them off a cliff, shoot them, bash them in the head several times with cast iron skillets, but they keep coming back to try to kill your young, naked, gay lover. Only a cabin filled with gunpowder seems to really kill them. (But no one mentioned finding a body...uh oh, I smell sequel!)

Was there anything good about this book? Yes. It wasn't set in LA or NY, didn't involve a single screenwriter, and absolutely no crystal meth was snorted by any character. A pleasant change of pace from most of the gay books I've read recently.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found this book frustrating. I had hoped it would fulfill its premise that John Chapman (the historical "Johnny Appleseed") was gay. While Jensen's John Chapman is gay and does plant a grove of apple trees, the book turns into a (albeit sweet and even credible) romantic novel about Chapman's (sexual and other) adventures in western Pennsylvania in the 1790s. The characters are a bit one-dimensional and I did find myself wondering at some possibly anachronistic usages ("truck farm"?). I do agree with the reviewer who expressed pleasure at the availability of gay romantic charcters and plots, but this book left me wishing for more substance. Maybe Mr. Jensen plans a sequel, in which Johnny Appleseed heads out to fulfill his folkloric destiny, accompanied by the man of his dreams. The conclusion of this book does allow that option, by the way....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It seemed to me this book was written by three people: a literate writing an well-thought and interesting introduction, an 10th-grade wannabe, awkward and stumbling in dialogue, plot and character development, and then a tabloid writer rushing to an implausible, depressing and ultimately tragic ending. I admire anyone that can write a book, and must respect the author for also having scored such a well-known publisher. But really now, every chapter either begins, furthers or ends in a tragedy. I appreciated the historical context and in that regard, I think life on the frontier is fairly well represented. However, the main character whines his way through the book, much as you'd assume he has through his entire life, and there is little or nothing to make you care - it would have been a relief if a bear had taken the protaganist early (like, first chapter) in the book, relieving us of every tragic detail that follows, and then the book could be enjoyed as an reasonably accurate historical adventure. The only thing to pity then would be the plight of the native americans. As it is, you get just too dang annoyed at the main character to care!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I grew up reading westerns. Some of my favorite series were "Buckskin" and "Spur" I always replaced the women in the books with myself. I tired to write a western using only men some years ago with no luck. I learned about Michael Jensen's novel "Frontiers" on the back flap of Brent Harbingers' novel "Geography Club". I had just finished reading both "Geography Club" and "The Order of The Poison Oak" the last part of 2005 and bought both "Frontiers" and "Firelands" to read later. My first book of 2006 was "Frontiers" and I couldn't wait to read "Firelands" the second book of the year. The characters were real. The violence was believable and the love between John and Palmer was real. I finished "Frontiers" on a Friday night and started "Firelands" finishing it the following Monday. What a way to start the New Year with two of the best novels I've read in a long time. I will be checking the name Michael Jensen on Amazon most often waiting for the next novel from this brilliant man. - Joe - TX
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Warning - Don't pick up this book unless you have some time on your hands, because you won't want to put it down! An outstanding first novel by Michael Jensen set in the 1790's. His hero is John Chapman, a kind, gentle, caring man who we easily understand, identify with and root for. John has been ridiculed and pushed down all his life. Now he's tired of running away. All of Mr. Jensen's characters are three dimensional, well-defined and real. His dialogue is always believable and often humorous. He has a great talent for making us feel we are right there within the action of the book. And there is A LOT of action! I also learned a great deal about what living on the frontier must have been like. There are some great messages also - tolerance and respect of others and their differences, the danger of violent relationships, environmental issues, not blaming ourselves for fate's whims, but most of all through John Chapman, that we deserve to be in happy, loving relationships regardless of how others may feel. I give this book my highest recommendation. Don't miss it! I'm hoping for a sequel!
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