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A Midwinter Prince Kindle Edition
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But hey, by this point anything by Harper Fox is nearly an automatic buy for me, and while this book isn't going to be a favourite I did enjoy it well enough and can recommend it.
You know, just from reading the plot summary this sounds like a historical novel, so I suppose I should note that it's strictly contemporary. And looking through some on-line reviews, seems like a lot of other people were fooled too---they went into the story expecting one thing, and had to rapidly adjust their frame of reference when it became apparent that this wasn't a Regency (or Victorian or Edwardian) drama.
MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW:
The story is set in modern day London, although there are times when you feel as though you are reading about the late 19th or early 20th centuries - old money abounds and those who are poor are SO poor and desperate. Laurie is the son of a wealthy Lord; privileged and cloistered. He has an extraordinary talent for acting, but instead ends up at Oxford and does poorly - he knows what his dominating and abusive father expects from him and, at the beginning of the book, he is resigned to his life. Resigned, that is, until he notices the beautiful boy lying in the freezing shadows outside the opera house. Laurie knows that, but for the circumstances of his birth, that boy could be him. And that is where Laurie begins to take a path different from the one expected from him.
The homeless boy is Sasha - a "Romani" or "Roma" (sometimes called "gypsies") with no papers and no roof over his head. He is in London searching for his mother, an Englishwoman who married a gypsy and fled back from Romania to England, leaving her young son behind. Sasha lives moment to moment, trading sexual favors for money and food. And Laurie cannot get Sasha's face out of his mind. Laurie seeks out Sasha, and the two boys begin a strange and beautiful relationship filled with pain, danger and great love.
As I read this book, transfixed, I despaired that there was any possibility of a HEA for these two young men, these true soul mates. I didn't care. I couldn't put the book down. I didn't care if I cried my eyes out - I had to know what would become of them. I was not disappointed, nor will you be. The ending was simply beautiful - better than I could have imagined. The characters and the story are believable and will stay with you for a long time after you read the last page.
Don't hesitate to purchase this book - this is a stunner. Literature amongst much M/M fluffiness (of which I do enjoy my fair share!). And read Ms. Fox's other books, as well. She has a true gift for writing that you should not miss.
I suppose most people read this to find out about the plot. Laurie, a university student with a gift for acting but a controlling and abusive father, is busy muddling his way through a miserable winter holiday, studying for his exams (having failed them the first time around), when a chance encounter with Sasha, a homeless boy his age, opens his eyes to the homeless underworld-- and triggers a wee obsession with one of its members. Luckily for Sasha, Laurie's innocently stalkerish crush saves him from hypothermia one cold night, triggering an unpredictable but strangely inevitable chain of events.
Normally I'm not keen on prince and the pauper/Cinderella type novels, because the jaded nobleman and plucky pauper are almost inevitably of a type. But Laurie and Sasha are true, fully developed characters, not class caricatures. Sasha in particular is both surprisingly complex--I couldn't predict his actions at all--and very sweet. I don't think the summary above quite does it justice. I don't want to give anything away, but suffice to say that if I didn't already have a heart condition, I might have developed one over the course of reading this. I was genuinely afraid for the characters. This isn't some throwaway thriller: the foreshadowing is subtle but frightening, and the crises are taut and horrific. I didn't feel that any of the events or backstory were, as is the case so often, merely a cheap excuse for Angst as a setup for some hurt/comfort (although there is plenty of both). It's genuinely gritty and all of the details are necessary and thoughtful.
Fox's prose style is nothing short of elegant. It bears no resemblance to the bare-bones, often clumsy narratives of the other books Amazon seems to be grouping it in with: it actually reminded me very much of Mary Renault in its poetic cleanness and delicately confessional tone. Her writing is by turns lyrical and funny and sad (and yes, sexy). This book is a delight to read if for no other reason (although there are, again, plenty of them) than the sheer aesthetic pleasure of it.
Highly recommended, and an instant favourite for me.