★★★1/2 WHISKEY DREAMS, the prequel to Haunted Passions
, was a fast, pleasurable read because the incredible writing let me relax and simply enjoy the story. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a sweet yet smexy M/M historical romance.
Having forgotten everything but that WHISKEY DREAMS was an M/M historical, a mental fly kept buzzing about my head while reading. Not until @ 40% in did I finally realize that the story was a clever re-working of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
. (Yeah, I know, took me long enough but c'mon, I read that decades ago.)
Set in 1784 Sleepy Hollow, New York, Ms. Rose's version re-casts Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt as a former Continental Army soldier who is haunted by the death of his lover/fellow soldier during an ambush more than two years ago. Ichabod is replaced with the more agreeable John Crane, who is still a schoolmaster but becomes Brom's lover instead of his rival. And apparently, both are bi-sexual, which sets up nicely for the intro of the lovely Katrina Van Tassel in the latter part of WHISKEY DREAMS (as well as the story in Haunted Passions
Given its short length, Brom and John's relationship occurs at hyper-speed. Everything is from Brom's POV so the reader gets a very limited understanding of John. The sex scenes are highly erotic but their first kiss...... Slowly, recklessly, stupidly, he drew John close. Close enough that he could see bright flecks in his grey eyes, truly silver in the moonlight. ... With a last rush of whiskey-scented breath, Brom pressed his mouth against John’s. ...
Technically, I noticed certain oddities (such as narrative text combined with dialogue) and there were minor edit/proof errors. Nonetheless, it's been quite some time since an author's writing style meshed so well with my mental reading cadence.
I don't know how or why I never heard of Ms. Rose or read any of her books. But I'll certainly be remedying that as quickly as possible, starting with Haunted Passions
. Because contrary to what the blurb for WHISKEY DREAMS says, it's a stand-alone title only insofar as the main characters meet and the foundations of a potential relationship is set. That's the tease. It's almost—but not quite—an HFN, which pretty much requires the reader to get Haunted Passions