Speak Its Name
by Charlie Cochrane, Lee Rowan, and Erastes; historical (2008)
Linden Bay Romance, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-60202-125-9

I choose to read Speak Its Name mostly because it's a gay historical romance anthology. I'm pretty overdosed on all that steampunk fantasy gay romance formula at the moment so I am hoping that this will make a nice change of pace when it comes to my usual naughty-boys-gone-wild reading materials. Unfortunately, this one on the whole is way too melodramatic and overwrought for my liking. I'm going to lump my opinions of the three stories together because I find the three stories flawed in the same manner.

Anyway, here is a quick synopsis of each story. Charlie Cochrane's Aftermath is set in 1920, where two college lads seem to think they are in the remake of EM Forster's Maurice as they go on their own version of "love despite the differences in their social status" thing. In Lee Rowan's Gentleman's Gentleman, we have a nobleman and his action man valet on a mission for the Crown. This is another "love across the social classes" thing. Erastes closes the anthology with Hard And Fast, in which a soldier recently return from killing French frogs decides to replenish his family coffers by marrying the right (and well-moneyed) lady. Well, he ends up making eyes and more at her male cousin instead.

The problem with all three stories is simple: the stories seem to be written by overwrought little girls still unable to catch their breath after their millionth re-watching of Brokeback Mountain, for fellow little girls who need something to do while gearing up for their millionth-and-one re-watching of Brokeback Mountain. Even when I take into account the generally more refined nuances of the English language back in the 19th and early 20th century, I have a hard time imagining men who will say something like this:

I've fallen in love with you, Edward; I knew it from the moment you laid your precious head on my manly chest, that day by this same river.

"My manly chest"? I'm glad the fellow makes the distinction about the nature of the private parts attached to the body with the chest, because I'm convinced that the chest belongs to a thirteen-year old girl attempting to write her first fanfiction.

I felt like Hercules, his last task completed. I felt fierce and victorious, swept away with the madness of the moment. His hair was against my cheek, the scents that had haunted my dreams were more real and more delicious than I had remembered.

Impressive. I can never remember what I smell in my own dreams. Oh wait, I remember now: I smell bull droppings.

Lee Rowan's story is the most restrained of the three when it comes to overwrought drama, but the characters behave like wide-eyed little girls entering puberty while attending a Jesse McCartney concert. In fact, all three stories are full of pounding hearts, excessive passionate displays of emotion, and melodramatic flailing that were they to be made into movies, I'm sure an extra-large wind machine will have to be used to drive home all that dramatic "Oh, I'm so EMO!" posturing of the characters in this story.

I'm sorry, folks. I guess I'm just allergic to gay romances written in the overwrought melodramatic style of those in the fanfiction.net hall of fame. Give me something more sophisticated, please - give me something where the men behave like men for once instead of infatuated little girls pretending to be men.

Rating: 44

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