Historical/ Victorian/ Gay
Rating: 4 Cups
Jack Rourke lives in what is considered the slums of London, picking pockets of unsuspecting gently bred people while his twin brother secretly takes the money and walks off. When his father Tom Rourke begins yet again to beat upon both brothers, Jack finds himself running and begging his brother Michael to follow, but to no avail. After meeting up with some theatre people, Jack begins a long friendship as he begins to learn the trade, even as his nights are filled with violence and hate.
Nicholas Stuart grew up in a small village where judgment was passed upon all those who did not follow God’s word. As Nick grew older and began to study medicine under the watchful eye of his father, he realized that a life in his hometown was not what he wanted for himself. He wanted to get out from under his father’s judgmental gaze and his sister’s hateful stare and find out who exactly he was, so he left to become the doctor he always wanted to be.
Eventually Tom’s abuse leads to deaths that change Jack’s life forever, including finding a new identity for himself. Soon he becomes Kit St. Denys and begins a life anew as a ward of a very wealthy man. With the love and patience he never found with his real parents, Kit begins to discover a whole new world. As his childhood years turn into teen years, he begins to realize he is attracted to men and not women. When Nicholas and Kit begin to fall for each other, one event after another comes in between the two lovers and destiny rips them apart time and again, with murder and mayhem being the ultimate incident that just might bring the two young lovers to their knees.
The Phoenix is the type of story that has you in its grasp from the beginning. Ms. Sims shows us how Jack goes from an abused pickpocket to a wealthy and renowned actor in this magnificent tale of love and loss. There were times when I was slightly put off by the story being a little on the dull side, but soon enough the struggle between Kit and Nicholas had me once again within its hold. Not only is this a story of surviving in some of the most horrific occasions but it is also a story of self-discovery for Nicholas, who begins to understand who he wants to be only when it might already be too late. One of the greatest components of this story is how Nicholas is shown as weaker than Kit’s character, but when something tragic happens to the actor, it is the doctor himself who steps forward and fights for the man he loves. With heartbreaking scenarios, tragedy and triumph, love and hate, and laughter and tears, this beautiful and sensual novel will open your eyes to how life with all its trials and errors must have been for these two lovers during the late nineteenth century.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More