Book Reviews

Do Svidaniya, Good-bye by Cecilia Ryan at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 06-January-2013

Book Blurb

In the summer of 1890, Nathaniel, ninth in line for the British throne, meets Konstantin, his Russian counterpart. The two boys become playmates, then friends, then lovers, though circumstance and duty often separate them.

When the First World War devastates Europe, chaos and misinformation lead each man to believe the other lost forever. Nathaniel retires in despair, expecting to live out his days alone, never dreaming he might have a second chance….


Book Review

A second chance, a surprising reunion, unexpected happiness – all of these labels would fit the story of two men who meet as boys, yet are separated by the circumstances of their birth. But this short book is about so much more. With a love that wasn't supposed to be between them, Nathaniel and Konstantin still devote their lives to duty. I guess in a historical context, that of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that makes sense, but it was still heartbreaking to read. Knowing what was coming, namely World War One, increased the suspense as to what would happen to these two men enormously. The one thing that kept me going was the hint at a second chance in the blurb.

Nathaniel isn’t conscious of his position in life at first, and he only gradually realizes its importance. The boy he meets when he is six years old fascinates him much more than any possible trappings of power, not that they're very close to his reality at first. The friendship that develops between him and Konstantin, then blossoms into more, helps him through an otherwise pretty lonely life. There is no hope for a relationship, as far as he knows, not in those days, and not with them being of different sides of a Europe separated by war.

Konstantin is a little more enigmatic, since the story is told from Nathaniel's point of view. But that actually worked really well for me. I found out about Konstantin the way Nathaniel did, and that drew me into the story even more closely. Konstantin faces the same family expectations and duty as Nathaniel, seeing no way out until the very end. His courage and determination are inspiring, and his quiet way of hanging on is inspiring. Not one for grand statements, he nevertheless loves Nathaniel deeply and will do anything to be reunited with him.

The story is beautifully written, with a clear focus on the characters and their feelings, and just enough description to clarify the time and setting. If you like historicals that make the characters come alive, if you enjoy reading about men who fall in love so gradually that it takes them a while to understand what happened, and if you're looking for an emotional read with an ending that is likely to make you cry with relief, you will probably like this book. It moved me deeply.




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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 76 pages/18297 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 26-December-2012
Buy Link