Customer Reviews: The Master of Seacliff
Your Garage Summer Reading Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it Drowners Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer roadies roadies roadies  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Best Camping & Hiking Gear in Outdoors STEM

Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$15.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on March 25, 2007
Gothic mysteries have been around for years, but gay gothic mysteries are a rare breed. In the pantheon of queer literature these novels are few and far between. In fact, off the top of my head, I can think of only one other I've read, Vincent Virga's spellbinding GAYWYCK, originally published in 1980.

In THE MASTER OF SEACLIFF, Max Pierce delivers a classic piece of gothic fiction. All the prerequisites are in place. The large foreboding mansion overlooking the sea, the brooding darkly handsome lord of the manor who may or may not be a murderer, the newly hired fresh faced innocent, and the sinister servant determined to drive the newcomer from the premises.

The year is 1899 and twenty year old Andrew Wyndham travels 200 miles up the Atlantic coast, from his Manhattan home, to take up residence at Seacliff, the large estate of Duncan Stewart. Andrew has agreed to a position as tutor to Duncan's eight year old son, Tim, for the summer. The money he earns will be used to finance his dream of going to Paris to study art.

Duncan Stewart is a wealthy and powerful businessman with an infamous reputation. His father, Gordon, and his father's friend, Albert, were found shot to death at Seacliff eight years prior and prevailing gossip holds Duncan responsible. It's said that Duncan wanted control of the family business and murdered to have it. Officially the deaths are considered a murder-suicide between the two men, but most don't believe it.

This, however, is not the only mystery clouding the situation. Duncan's protégé and secret lover, pianist Steven Charles, disappeared a year before Andrew's arrival and his absence has, once again, brought suspicion upon Duncan.

As Andrew learns more of the rumors about Duncan, he is both fascinated and frightened. Duncan is a man who can be both charming and obnoxiously brash. Will the obvious attraction between the two men blossom into love, or will the mysteries surrounding Duncan doom their relationship to failure?

THE MASTER OF SEACLIFF is both a beautifully constructed mystery and a well told tale of forbidden love at the turn of the last century. The pace builds nicely and the conclusions are not easily guessed. This novel is gothic storytelling at its finest, and I highly recommend it.
0Comment|28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Max Pierce seems to be a writer to watch. He understands the fine art of mystery storytelling, finding that magic of the past great writers who doted on dark old mansions that held their secrets of murder and mayhem much like an old spinster creaking in her attic rocking chair. But Pierce introduces a taboo subject of the time in which he sets this intriguing tale (1899 in America) and in doing so refreshes his story for a new audience of Romance aficionados. He populates his engrossing yarn with handsome men (yes, and women) most of whom appear connected by their closeted sexuality!

Seacliff, the name of the elegant but darkly invested mansion somewhere along the coast above New York City, hides secrets of two significant murders that happened some eight years before the story begins. The narrator is a young artist Andrew who timidly accepts the role as tutor for the son of the wealthy Duncan Stewart, the virile and powerful scion of the estate whose wife has died without an heir for Duncan (a situation remedied by a quick trip to a gypsy in Paris), replacing a young pianist who left the estate under mysterious circumstances. Gossip and secrets suggest that the murders of Duncan's father and one Albert may have been at the hand of Duncan himself, but other mysteries cloud the mansion: the daughter of the housekeepers apparently committed suicide in a leap off the cliffs when she learned of her beloved's suspicious death; her mute son remains in the household tied to cemetery visits; the butler is inordinately dour and suspicious; the neighboring estate is owned by a brother and sister - the brother being gay and the sister a bit too compassionate. Pierce slowly unveils the fact that gay relationships existed between the murdered men, the neighbor and the pianist with Duncan, and that similar forces are at work to bring the new tutor Andrew into the murky trysts. And simultaneously the true stories of the many deaths that hang in the past gradually are uncovered. It is a lot of story to condense but Pierce writes with such uncanny attention to detail and to keeping the language and atmosphere of 1899 in place that he creates a page-turning thriller that keeps the reader guessing up to the final page.

Gothic horror, interrelated murders and suicides, past and present gay relationships, and exploration of a time when a staff of servants underlined the intrigue of the old mansions all make THE MASTER OF SEACLIFF and absorbing new novel. Pierce's elegant prose puts it all into perspective, keeping the sensual aspects alive but related in the tenor of the times. By the end of the novel, closing the covers, the reader satisfyingly reflects on the forbidden love affairs the walls of Seacliff had seen and how those gay trysts opened such strange events that made the discoveries of perpetrators so fascinating. Grady Harp, December 06
22 comments|12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 27, 2016
Such a great read and a new author for me. Very Jane Eyre-ish, not better after all Jane Eyre is a classic, but similar and in my opinion nearly as good. Duncan definitely has Mr. Rochester's brooding down and Andrew certainly shares Jane's curiosity. Did Duncan really kill his father & Albert then make it look like murder/suicide? For that you'll have to read and you really won't know until near the end, I will say that my suspicions changed a few times. Very rarely does a story come together where every single character has a true purpose and effect on both the tale and the reader. There is a little something for everyone and just because I have made comparisons to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, don't think this is just a M/M genre retelling of the gothic classic, aspects are remnant but not a copy. The Master of Seacliff is a story all its own and I am so glad that luck or fate brought it to my eye.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 9, 2011
I was so pleased come across this gay gothic---I enjoy the genre so much, and most particularly those titles that feature a gay twist.

Now, some readers of this novel have complained that it borrows excessively from Victoria Holt's (straight) gothic novel Mistress of Mellyn, as well as Vincent Virga's Gaywyck. This is true enough. I've read both books, and this is particularly similar to Holt's book in several ways. I'll also add that it adds a dash of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca to the mix. And so perhaps I do wish that the plot of "Master of Seacliff" displayed a bit more originality.

But you know what? In the end, I didn't mind all that much that it was derivative. I've come across so few gay gothic titles, that I'm quite happy to add another to my very short list of such books. And let's face it, the gothic novel has been around for over 200 years; take, for example, 1794's The Mysteries of Udolpho (Penguin Classics). Part of the fun of the genre is the way these books trade on hoary old clichés: the young innocent arriving at a palatial mansion shrouded in mystery and gloom, complete with screams in the night, figures half-glimpsed in the mist, unsolved murders from the past casting a pall upon the present... What fun!

Now, the book isn't perfect. Apart from the derivative story-line, there are a few plot points that didn't exactly make sense to me. And I really do wish that the characters of the two protagonists had been a developed a bit further, a bit more delineated. I'm not asking for the obsessive detail of "Gaywyck," but I wouldn't have minded seeing the growing relationship explored in a bit more depth. But man---that Duncan Stewart---now there's an attractive bear of a fellow!

Still, despite a few flaws, I enjoyed the book very much and will happily recommend it.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 3, 2013
This book was a surprise to me. Being a reader of the classics and gothic books, I read everything I can get my hands on. It reminded me of many of the great gothic/romantic fictions- Rebecca, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights... but with a gay twist. What a hoot! While some of the plot devices and characters may not be wholly new to readers, I loved the way they were mixed and blended into this intoxicating gay fiction. In some ways it reminded me of Charles Busch novels which do a similar thing, mixing hollywood cliches and making a new story that lives on its own but also is an homage to those old classics. If you are a reader, gay and wanting to take a fun ride, get this book. Lots of fun. Thanks Max for a real gem.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 11, 2016
Review written for Love Bytes Reviews.

Oh man, SO MUCH happened in this book and every bit of it was fantastic! When I started reading, I knew I’d be dealing with a mystery taking place in a darker setting but what I wasn’t prepared for was how many twists and turns in the story there would be on the way towards the ending. At the beginning of the book you have Andrew who has taken the position as tutor to Duncan Stewart’s son only to learn of the murder that took place eight years ago AFTER he’s arrived. It seems that while the entire place is rife with speculation about what actually happened, no one actually has the entire picture or truth. The mystery surrounding the events of years past is only confounded by rumors, know it all neighbors, and the enigma that is Duncan Stewart himself.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: this book was fantastic! I spent the entire novel trying to figure out what really happened and by the end I’d had so many different theories that I was losing track of them all. As Andrew moved through the various tales and accusations while trying to find the truth out for himself, I was right there with him and every surprise to him was a surprise to me, too. I just loved this! I NEVER saw the truth coming and just when I thought the book had no more surprises in store, I was proved wrong yet again. This was an intricately put together historical mystery that kept me interested and engaged the entire way through and I will happily read it over and over again. Even if you aren’t a fan of historical fiction, I recommend this one for the mystery alone; it was totally worth it and the final reveal was one of the more satisfying I’ve had.

0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 6, 2015
4.0 of 5 stars –
I've been wanting to read this for a while, and it did not disappoint.

Of course, you have to approach it with a gothic romance, versus hi-lit, mindset. With that in mind, this was mostly what this genre should be – an innocent but spirited young tutor newly employed by a brooding tormented master of a foreboding estate, haunted by mysterious deaths and disappearances and populated by peculiar servants and guests hiding dark secrets, as well as by classic gothic symbolism such as peering portraits, chiming clock, black horses, gloomy fog, all underlaid by a slow-burn romantic attraction, this one with a lovely gay twist. You get the picture, and it was absorbing.

Max Pierce’s style made for an appropriately dark, yet easy read, with a nice pace that flowed well and easy-to-follow dialogue. I enjoyed the description of the times, although the remote setting prevented as much immersion as I would have liked into the culture, people and places. It had some good tension stemming from mysteries combined with the illicitness of an underlying gay attraction. The mysteries of a murder, suicides, and a missing former lover were told pretty well, sprinkling in enough true clues amongst a slew of red herrings that could lead to a number of suspects and possibilities.

I particularly liked the diverse cast of "gothic" characters. The two MCs are well drawn, likable partly because of their flaws; but, maybe because of the genre, a bit stereotypical at times. The secondaries are fairly well developed as well, and I could even excuse the more-than-usual gay guys around (the natural social phenomenon of associating with people like you). Even so, I felt that being gay was accepted a little too readily and casually given the repression of the times.

I enjoyed watching the slow build of the sexual attraction between the two MCs. In fact, it was such a slow build that I was yearning for more, to the point where I thought they were more reticent than those around them were accepting of the issue, again, given the times. So as a consequence, for those interested, the sex is mostly PG with glimpses of R. The suggestiveness was fine by me; no need to be X-rated in this gothic romance.

It may be the case, as one reviewer thought, that this took a lot from Victoria Holt's Mistress of Mellyn. Even if that is the case, since I haven't read it, I enjoyed this one, especially with the gay twist. I also wonder that with this having so much of those traditional gothic romance elements that I mentioned, it might seem like it borrowed when it was just being true to the genre.

Overall, even as a gay romance it was good; as a gay gothic romance, it was indeed a joy to read.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 24, 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Master of Seacliff. It has many similarities to - perhaps even imitates - Vincent Virga's classic Gaywyck, but with a lesser degree of the supernatural. Still, a fine, atmospheric setting, well drawn characters and a rewarding love story that is a very pleasant read.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 24, 2012
This is truly a fun read. I started it on Saturday morning and didn't put it down until I finished it that same evening. The story had all the elements one expects from this genre with one unique switch - gay characters. I did figure out some of what was going on about half way through the book but the twist at the very end was unexpected; keeping me at the edge of my seat and very satisfying. This took me back to my days in Jr. High when I would rush home from school and watch Dark Shadows with my mother and sisters while we all kept pillows on our laps so we could hide our faces during the scary parts. To this day - anything that takes place in a mosoleum creeps me right out. Well done, Max Pierce! I will now be on the hunt for other published works you have written.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 31, 2014
Good read for a stormy night. The suspense is skillfully built up and the resolution is surprising and disturbing, will be appreciated by lovers of the gay gothic genre.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.