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Eleventh Hour Paperback – August 9, 2016
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About the Author
Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and works in a museum in a castle built on the edge of a Roman fort! She reckons that’s a pretty cool job. Elin usually writes on historical subjects, and enjoys weaving the weird and wonderful facts she comes across in her research into her plots. She likes her heroes hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Often they are in danger, frequently they have to make hard choices, but happy endings are always assured. Current works in progress include one set during the Great War, another in WW2, one set in the Dark Ages and a series of contemporary romances set in a small town on the Welsh border.
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Elin Gregory is another of those Brit authors who not only has a way with language, but manages to handle the past in a manner that is authoritative as well as captivating. She puts in just the right amount of detail without getting heavy-handed and showing off. We are back in the era of Lord Peter Wimsey, or Hercule Poirot, and it feels just right.
What I particularly like about the set-up here (London, 1928) is that both of the gay protagonists, Briers Allerdale and Miles Siward, are men who have made peace with who they are, and have established a way of living that is better than survival, even if it’s not quite ideal. What makes it even more compelling is that neither man knows this about the other when the Home Office sets them up together as a team to determine the whereabouts and purpose of an eastern European anarchist-for-hire. Briers is a James-Bondian type, masculine and tall, who knows how to deal with other spies, whether they be enemies or simply competitors. Miles, the younger brother of a famous spy and son of a great family, is tolerated as a small, delicate man because of his skill disguising himself as a woman for undercover work. It’s a premise that has titillated audiences in every kind of story from Shakespeare to “Some Like it Hot” (1959). Gregory, paying homage to (straight) detective fiction of the 1920s and 30s manages to make the genre her own, while creating a different perspective that, for someone like me, makes all the difference in the world.
Gregory’s writing is literate yet clean. Nothing florid, but still elegant. She manages to make the setting feel very modern—as it would have been in the eyes of, say, Dorothy L. Sayers—and yet still captures the sense of the place and people of nearly a century ago. She also gives her main characters sensibilities that are very much of their time—not 21st-century outlooks slapped onto the bodies of 1920s men. Briers and Miles make sense in this setting; they show the reader how this might have happened. They make the modern gay reader (i.e. me) believe that this is the way gay men coped in the past.
The plot is compelling and nicely paced, taking enough twists and turns that we are pulled along without quite knowing what will happen until (as it happens), the eleventh hour.
I wish this could be made into a BBC series. It would be brilliant. But of course Hollywood’s homophobia will assure that it never happens. I also wish that Gregory could write Briers and Miles another adventure…and maybe reviews like this will encourage her to think along those lines.
Briers Allerdale and Miles Siward are appealing characters whose relationship develops as they go about their mission to first discover and then foil an anarchist plot. They behave like Englishmen of their class and time; I found their understated emotions to be more affecting than if they had engaged in modern romantic excesses. The sex is neither erotic nor flowery but rather down to earth and sometimes awkward, but endearing. Miles' alter-ego Millie is a key part of the investigation, but Briers comes to appreciate how she fulfils a need for Miles. The mystery element of the book starts off slowly but gathers momentum towards a truly suspenseful ending.
I wish more writers would make use of the interwar period, and I wish more writers of historical romance had the unerring feel for the period that is displayed by Gregory in this book. I relaxed into a highly entertaining read instead of being jarred out of the story by annoying anachronisms. This book has mystery, danger, courage, tenderness and humour, and above all it feels authentically British in its tone. I loved it and will definitely read more from Elin Gregory.
And Miles? May I put him in my pocket and keep him? Please?? No spoilers, but there's a reason readers are loving Miles so much!! He is a complex, funny and fantastic character! How I would love to see this as a mini-series!
Please, Ms. Gregory, write a sequel to this story! I want to know what happens next with their German friend.
And while you are at it, PLEASE write a PREQUEL as well!! I MUST know more about Miles's early life!!! I'll keep checking back with you. . .
I found here absolutely everything I could hope for. There's is mystery, intrigue, danger and suspense. I've always found the inter-war years greatly interesting and the early stages of the British Secret Intelligence Service fascinating. The Great Game between the British Empire, Russia, Europe and Asia and all the political machinations going on at the time was like a very sinister and deadly game of chess. The author did a great job recreating this turbulent period and concocting a fabulous plot!
The two protagonists, Briers Allerdale & Miles Siward are truly very engaging. I absolutely love Miles's dual personality!
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I first came across this book as I was trying to find something new to read; I thought the blurb sounded interesting and I enjoy...Read more