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Mere Mortals Paperback – March 23, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Mere Mortals" is a compelling story...the end result is an impressive combination of mystery and intrigue that is disturbing yet ultimately moving"

--Edge New York

"...storytelling that is not only fascinating, but so cleanly put together that any writer will, perhaps, be envious." 

--George Seaton - "Out in Print"

"... It's a great story, written in true gothic style which keeps you guessing until the end."

--Queer Magazine Online

"...Erastes has hit the mark with this piece of historical fiction. Read it and love it. You won't be able to put it down until you discover the fate of Myles, Jude, and especially Crispin as they grapple with their forbidden longings and dreams..." -- Damien Serbu, Lambda Literary Foundation.

''An unsettling tale of loss, obsession and mystery, set on the bleak Norfolk Broads. Definitely one I'd recommend.'' --Donald Hardy, author of Lovers' Knot

About the Author

Erastes was born in Essex in 1959, and has lived in too many places to count since.

She writes gay historical fiction and short stories which have been published in over 20 anthologies. Her novels Standish and Transgressions have brought gay historical romance to mainstream readers.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lethe Press (March 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590210433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590210437
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,439,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gerry A. Burnie on March 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
When it comes to man-on-man, historical romance and adventure, the name Erastes invariably comes to the fore, and her latest creation, Mere Mortals [Lethe Press, March 23, 2011] is perhaps her best effort yet. It is in my mind, anyhow, and I've read and reviewed many of her novels and short stories in the past.

The first thing one notices about this novel is the subtlety with which the story unfolds, and the leisurely, measured pace that is so in keeping with a nineteenth-century theme. For example, the story opens with a coach ride through the countryside setting, and with this clever device the reader is invited aboard to see it for him/herself, i.e:

"There was nothing here to write about, or so it seemed. After so many years spent at school in the well manicured quadrangle and playing fields of Barton Hall, this new landscape seemed empty, untidy and bleak. A light mist covered the land as far as the horizon, little more than a thin vapour, but it was enough to drain all colour from the scene passing by the carriage window. I gave a wry smile. Colour that mainly consists of bleached dead reeds, brown ditches and brown muddy pools

"Since leaving Yarmouth the coach had travelled slowly north, following the coast road, such as it was. The coachman had warned us passengers that the roads were bad at this time of the year and he wasn't wrong; more than once the three of us - for that's all there was, travelling in the filthy weather - had to alight, braving the vicious biting wind to assist the coach out of one of the larger ruts we encountered. Even inside the coach with the curtains drawn, the wind sliced its way through any small gaps in the woodwork.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

I preordered this book in paperback. That alone should give you an idea how impatient I was to read it. See, I do not preorder the books in paperback these days. I preorder ONE writer in hardcover, and he does not write in this genre. Otherwise, I always read the book on Kindle first, even if it is from my favorite writer and if it is something I love, yes I may buy a paperback, but only if I want to keep it very very much. Do I regret ordering this one in paperback? A lot. Let me explain why.

First and foremost, my regret is my personal, very very subjective reaction. Erastes is IMO extremely talented author and as you can see I am giving this book four stars, because I feel that many many readers may love this book and deservingly so. But I feel my reaction also has merits and for readers who may share my tastes, I want to let them know.

The language in this book is so very beatiful. Norfolk of another time truly comes alive and it definitely transported me to another era. Had this book been a historical travel guide, I would have given it ten stars.

Unfortunately for this book, as much as I like being transported to another era, characters are something which I want to like as much (actually much more) than the settings and here I hit a wall, big time.

It is not that the characters are two dimensional, not at all, I can *see* that they are fabulously drawn and multidimensional, what I could not do is *feel* for them. Book absolutely failed to engage my emotions to relate, to sympathize with ANY of the three boys and this is a really hard thing to do, I will tell you.
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I like Erastes's writing. I enjoy gay romance novels and hers are among the best, in terms of plot, characters and quality of writing. This story, to me, was not her best, but it was quite good and well worth my time and effort.

In a time (early Victorian England) when being actively homosexual was an invitation to prison, if not to a hangman's noose, three teenage boys are "caught" being homosexual at their schools. None of the three were from well-to-do families, so being caught out and "sent down" (i.e., expelled from school for cause) should have been the end of them, one way or the other. It was not so because of the timely intervention of a well-to-do man in his 30's, who took them under his protection and brought them to his home as his wards, for reasons he did NOT immediately make clear to them. The remainder of the book because a matter of the boys sorting out their protector's motives and their implications to the boys themselves. Thus, at the outset of the book, the author introduced an ominous tone that only increased as the story progressed. Strewn throughout the story, there are enough clues to the protector's motives such that the climax didn't really surprise me very much. I'm happy to give this novel four stars and the author a pat on the back, though I like her novel "Standish" better. If you like the genre and this author's writing, this book is worth your time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a completely unique take on historical MM fiction in England. Set in 1848 in the dark northern country, it's a first-person narrative that leaves a lot to the imagination, much of which is as surprising to the reader as it is for Crispin Thorne, the narrator. It moves along at a detailed, somewhat relaxing pace early as Crispin tries to find his way into his new life as a ward (basically, adoptee) of the mysterious, handsome Philip Smallwood, along with his two new companions, Jude and Myles, also recent Smallwood wards.

While it becomes clear somewhat early on from conversations among Crispin, Jude and Myles what may have prompted Philip to adopt these three particular lads (whom I suppose are either sixteen or eighteen years old, the one point the author has unaccountably left out), the actual reason is not really implied until much later, and not actually revealed until near the end. No matter. In between is good enough as the lads come to know, trust and then distrust each other, while Philip, who appears for the first time a week or so into the book, emerges as one wonderfully benevolent soul.

Then all hell breaks loose and even though you could see the catalytic circumstance coming which defines the entire premise of the book and the future of our protagonists, it still captures your senses and your imagination. Swiftly moving from that point the plot takes on a distinctive over-the-top turn which is based on the grief of love lost, the joy of love rediscovered, but also the horror of how love can possess and become a destructive obsession.

This one could have gotten totally out of hand but it's the way Erastes ends this book which not only ties it all together but allows you to exhale. I have rarely, if ever, read a book of this genre that ended so abruptly, yet perfectly wrapped up, in one paragraph. I'm still a little out of breath.
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