I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.By The Currawong's Call by Welton B. Marsland
Published by Escape Publishing on November 20th 2017
Genres: Australian, Historical, M/M Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful...
Victoria, Australia, 1891
Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.
A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.
Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?
In 1891 homosexuality was illegal, and for much of this story it was a cloud hanging over Matthew and Jonah. Something that could destroy both of their careers and send them to jail. Victoria, where this is set, didn’t legalise it until December 1980 – they were the second state to do so; the last did in 1997…the treatment of men convicted of sodomy is still being dealt with today. Legislation was introduced to parliament just a few weeks ago in my state to expunge historical convictions.
I would just like to remind everyone it’s 2017, and politicians in my country are currently arguing about how discriminatory people are allowed to be to gay people if they choose to get married when it is (finally) legalised, hopefully before Christmas (not holding my breath).
Oops. Tangent. Let me get back on topic.
By The Currawong’s Call is…not something I would have picked to read myself, but I was in such a mood for m/m romance and nothing else jumped out at me. I picked it up on NetGalley a while back thinking ‘I’ll totally read this within the next few months!’ and to my surprise, I actually did!
My favourite thing is probably the setting. I spent the first part of my life in bush suburbia in Victoria, I’ve driven through many a country town in various states. Victoria will always feel like home, I could see it all in my mind. Simple buildings, unsealed roads, dust, trees, kangaroos. Perfect.
For the first half of the book though, I was a wee bit bored. Matthew was fine, Jonah was fine. But I didn’t get their chemistry at ALL. I would have liked to have seen more of what Matthew did as the new local priest, instead we were just told ‘he did X, Y and Z’. The background characters were just that, background and barely rated a mention. I didn’t really feel much life in it.
But as soon as they went to Melbourne? It became so much more interesting! I’m not sure if it was the change of scenery, or the fact they were doing more than hanging out together (though they were still sneaking around), but it’s like everything just jumped off the page and came to life. And I ended up adoring them together ♥
Because of how mixed I felt about it, I had a difficult time rating everything. The pacing was a bit shit at first, but then it just fell into place. Everyone was 2 dimensional, until they weren’t. Hmmm. I gave it 4 stars simply because it left me grinning like an idiot when I finished; and I reckon if I read it again it’d feel like a different book.
And as much as I enjoyed the second half, the epilogue was my favourite bit. I don’t think it’s a spoiler, but I’ll put it behind a spoiler cut anyway: View Spoiler »it was an interview with a current time celebrity from their little town, like those tv shows that look at a famous person’s ancestry and it was so fun! « Hide Spoiler I do wish we had a bit more of them afterwards though, I would have liked to know what happened.
All in all this was a satisfying read once it got going. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more by Welton B. Marsland.
Fact of the day: the currawong is an Australian bird that looks like a raven/crow (but a bit smaller, and doesn’t sound like them) and has yellow eyes. I’ve never seen one to my knowledge, but I live out west and they are on the east coast. When I’m over there next I shall keep my eyes peeled!
They sound like this (yes, I got that curious lol)