Author: J. Alan Veerkamp
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
American release date: April 23, 2019
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/LGBT Romance/350 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Nathan is a bird in a gilded cage. A member of the Deilian aristocracy, his life is proscribed by a series of rigid rules. But something goes horribly wrong when his “inclination” is discovered—that is, his homosexuality. Suddenly he has become the black sheep of his family, and his future looks bleak indeed, as the people of Deilia do not tolerate such behavior. Nathan’s father has him fitted with a chastity belt to keep his virtue intact until such time as he can find him someone who is willing to wed him, sacrificing his very dignity in the process.
Nathan’s father eventually comes up with a husband for his wayward son… enter Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. He shows up one day and is unlike anyone Nathan has ever met. He is quite open about being gay, and is very obviously interested in Nathan. The wedding takes place right away—this is a man who doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet when he wants something—and he whisks his handsome and innocent young husband off to the strange and seductive land of Marisol.
Delaga House is not what Nathan expected. In fact there’s no way around it, it is a bordello. With some very interesting occupants. Such as Alexandra, the very competent manager, and Blythe, the rather large bodyguard with a mind of his own and a mouth to match, and Vivian, who has a sharp tongue and an inflated sense of her own importance. Luckily, Nathan has brought his valet Harston with him, with whom he is close, someone to anchor him in this strange land.
Thanks to his strict upbringing, Nathan has trouble adjusting to the sensuality of his new life, but it feels oh so good. And just when he thinks maybe life as a married man in Marisol will be good, he the blinders torn from his eyes. Has he traded one kind of cage for another? Where can he turn and who can he trust? If he doesn’t lost his innocence and learn how to deceive, he will never survive the experience.
Innocence and Carnality is my first book by J. Alan Veerkamp, but it won’t be my last. I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I saw snippets of it in our writer’s group. It was well worth the wait. It’s sci fi with a definite steampunk vibe that I love. I especially loved Nathan, and enjoyed reading about his journey, and the things he had to do to survive as he became less and less innocent through necessity. The author has a wonderful writing style that flows easily, and he creates very memorable characters. The sex scenes are very hot and steamy and very explicit.
If there is a lesson one can take away from this book, perhaps it’s that there are no absolutes with good and bad, and what may seem to be good may not be, and what is looked down on as bad might be just a matter of understanding. I think this book would make an awesome movie.
In all good books, a character should grow in some way, not simply exist. Veerkamp has accomplished that with young Nathan, who not only experiences new things, but learns from them and develops as a person. You can’t help but cheer for him and hope he rises above the bad in his life in the end in order to emerge triumphant. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy men having hot steamy sex but are also a romantic heart, and liked it with a touch of sci fi.
Well done, J. Alan, well done indeed!