Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Review: The Master of Seacliff by Max Pierce

Max Pierce
The Master of Seacliff

Published by Southern Tier Editions, Harrington Park Press

Reviewed by Kathleen Bradean

Andrew Wyndham, a budding artist just discovering his sexuality, agrees to take a position as a tutor to young boy in a remote, forbidding house on the New England coast. When he arrives at Seacliff, he meets the brooding, temperamental, openly gay master of the house, Duncan Stewart. Duncan’s son, Timothy, is the image of his father, in temperament as well as looks.

Andrew finds it easy to believe the rumors that Duncan murdered his father and his fathers’ business partner/lover. Duncan’s neighbors, brother and sister Leo and Elena Van Horne, delight in gossiping about tragic deaths and the mysterious departure of Duncan’s last lover, Steven Charles. Andrew is courted by Leo Van Horne, but is intrigued by Duncan. He believes that Duncan still loves Steven Charles though, a view strongly reinforced by Elena and Leo, and supported by the presence of Steven’s clothes, jewelry, and personal affects left behind in a bedroom that adjoins Duncan’s.

As Andrew pursues the mysteries of the past of Seacliff, the butler, housekeeper, stable hand, Leo, and Elena provide innuendo but not many facts. There are locked rooms, secret compartments, and enough intriguing clues to keep Andrew busy when he’s not tutoring his charge. While he seems no closer to finding the truth, several attempts are made on Andrew’s life. To protect him, Duncan takes Andrew to New York City and, with the help of Elena, finds a position for him with a renowned portrait painter. Andrew doesn’t want to leave Duncan though, and returns to Seacliff. This unexpected return, and declaration of love between the men, forces the hand of the murderer. Secrets are revealed, death is narrowly escaped, and in the end, Duncan and Andrew are happily together.

If you’re a fan of gothic romance, but always wished the lovers were male, then this is your story. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, it features recognizable elements from Dark Shadows, Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, and Northanger Abbey. A creepy butler, madness, hidden bodies, the graveyard, a mysterious cloaked figure in the fog, dark warnings, lover’s misunderstandings, and enough atmosphere to make Mars a habitable planet – this story has it all, making for an enjoyable, guilty pleasure read.

Kathleen Bradean has published over 30 short stories and one novel under various pen names. Her stories can be found in The Best Women’s Erotica 2007, Inside Him, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, Hot Cops, Caramel Flava II, and She’s On Top in print, and on Clean Sheets and The Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association websites. She’s a member of the Erotic Author’s Association, Broad Universe, The Speculative Fiction Society, Bi Writers, and the Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association. She also reviews books for Erotica Revealed and Velvet Mafia. KathleenBradean@blogspot.com.

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