Book Reviews

Bonds of Earth by G.N. Chevalier at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 20th Century / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 01-November-2012

Book Blurb

In 1918, Michael McCready returned from the war with one goal: to lose himself in the pursuit of pleasure. Once a promising young medical student, Michael buried his dreams alongside the broken bodies of the men he could not save. After fleeing New York to preserve the one relationship he still values, he takes a position as a gardener on a country estate, but he soon discovers that the house hides secrets and sorrows of its own. While Michael nurses the estate’s neglected gardens, his reclusive employer dredges up reminders of the past Michael is desperate to forget.

John Seward’s body was broken by the war, along with his will to recover until a family crisis convinces him to pursue treatment. As John’s health and outlook improve under Michael’s care, animosity yields to understanding. He and John find their battle of wills turning into something stronger, but fear may keep them from finding hope and healing in each other.

Book Review

The American Heritage Cultural Dictionary defines the  Lost Generation as “the young adults of Europe and America during World War I. They were “lost” because after the war many of them were disillusioned with the world in general and unwilling to move into a settled life." These people were so traumatized by the war that they were bruised down to their very souls. In 'Bonds of Earth' by G.N. Chevalier, Michael McCready and John Seward are woeful examples of the aftereffects of their war experiences. Before the war, both men had ambitions and dreams which were squeezed out of them in the indescribable atrocities they experienced; both need a soul healing experience in order to regain confidence in themselves and experience both love and hope.

I became emotionally invested in Michael right away. His pain is blatantly palpable. It broke my heart to see him struggling, floundering, lost and in a job which was not only demeaning, but far below his capacity. Michael is such a kind soul and has had an almost unimaginably difficult life. Very few people in his life have given him the love and respect he deserves.  The dreams he once had of being a doctor now seem to be completely out of the realm of possibility. He's so disillusioned that he simply can't gather the energy to even think about it anymore. Out of a sense of self-preservation, he buries his feelings and cuts himself off from almost everyone. When he's blackmailed into taking a job as a gardener, his despair grows to a new level. But Michael is more resilient than he realizes. He throws himself into bonding with the earth, taking pride in restoring the neglected garden at the estate into a spectacle of beauty. Meeting John is an unexpected occurrence, one that, in the beginning, he's not sure he wants to contend with. It's not just that John is impossible to be with, but because he's not sure he wants to open himself up to the possibility of being close to someone.

John was a little harder to get close to. I understood that he was in physical pain from injuries he sustained in the war, but it wasn't until I saw the emotional tumult he was trapped in before I began to understand the totality of his dilemma and the reasons for his seemingly bad behavior. His character changes even more than Michael's does after he accepts responsibility for his recovery. He's more like Michael than it seems—rejected by his family because of his sexual preference, isolated, disillusioned, and sorely in need of something to believe in which will also cause him to, once again, believe in himself. Even though he comes from money, it does him no good. John is trapped within himself. It's a small miracle that he is able to open up at all, but when he starts, he outpaces Michael in stepping up and facing his problems. His reaction to his niece especially endeared him to me. It showed that he did care about someone else beside himself and Michael took full advantage of his soft spot. After John gets his footing again, his patience and persistence takes over where Michael is concerned and fights to make things right between them. His patience and persistence is what really won my heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I'm not sure I can adequately give this book the credit that it's due. It's a wonderful historical romance, with a great deal of angst, but also a great deal of satisfaction. The story is perfectly paced and flows in a realistic fashion. The relationship development between Michael and John is slow and logical. Instead of insta-love, they take their time moving through the necessary stages of a relationship from dislike, to understanding, to friendship, and, only then, to sexual gratification and love. Even their disagreements are logical and realistic rather than feeling contrived. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys reading a story in an accurate, well thought out,  historical setting, filled with well-developed, interesting characters, along with angst, joy, tears, heartache, understanding, redemption, and, of course a happy ending. Thank you so much, G.N., for this fabulous story.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 240 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 09-January-2012
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
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