Book Reviews

Raise the Red Flag by Eric Del Carlo at DSP Publications

Genre Gay / Steampunk / Alternate Reality / 19th Century / Romance / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 23-January-2018

Book Blurb

In an 1867 that never was, the American colonies are finally gearing up to revolt against oppressive British rule enforced by advanced technology. British airship captain Hamilton Arkwright is captured by the rebels when his vessel is commandeered. The insurgents are also aided—reluctantly—by young Jonny Callahan, a thief and ne’er-do-well who would rather carouse on the streets of New Orleans than fight for independence. When the two seemingly opposite men are thrown together on a harrowing journey across the war-torn colonies, they must grudgingly rely on each other for survival. Despite their efforts to resist, the attraction between them threatens to throw a wrench in their plans to remain enemies.


They battle their way through American guerillas and a demolition-derby-type highway to reach the decimated streets of Chicago, where British forces are preparing to commit a war crime of enormous magnitude. Though affection has grown between them during their mission, they are still on conflicting sides, and they may have to choose between loyalty to their causes and their love.


Book Review

Steampunk is a genre I enjoy, and the particular turn history has taken in this world is different from many other books in this genre I have read. The back story is clear and distinctive, the technology has "jumped" ahead from where you’d expect even an alternative reality of 1867 to be, and the political situation that the "American Colonies" are facing is one that has never seen the Boston Tea Party succeed or American independence be declared. Instead, the Colonial Underground is still fighting the “British overlords”. The whole setup is very engaging, there is lots of mystery, subterfuge, political intrigue, and action. With two fascinating main characters and a varied cast of supporting roles, this adventure had me engrossed from beginning to end.

Jonny is an American, twenty-one and is impulsive, passionate, a risk-taker and, initially, on the run from a relationship with a local (New Orleans) crime lord that has gone bad. He gets involved in his next "adventure" without thinking things through, but that is the beginning of a slow-build relationship with British airship captain Hamilton - a liaison that helps Jonny grow and mature.

Hamilton is an interesting character - he is a third-generation military man serving the British Crown, yet has never been fully accepted because he was born on American soil. As such, his loyalties are somewhat divided from the start. He loves being an airship captain, but he also feels the underlying discrimination deeply. His loyalty to the new cause happens slowly enough so he remains true to himself and for his change of mind to be convincing.

Jonny and Hamilton are opposites in many ways, but they share a deep physical attraction to each other and a need to survive. Their cross-country race to Chicago, where they want to stop British forces from committing a war crime, gives them time to get to know each other and to figure out their loyalties. There are lots of danger and adventure that provide a good background and make the developing closeness more believable.

The wonderful worldbuilding added to my enjoyment, and it is not limited to the whole alternate history and what it means for politics, interpersonal relationships, and technology. All of those elements are excellent, but the look, smell, and feel of this world comes through as well. The language is typical, in many ways, of the late 1860s as we know them. Yet there are also lots of technical words that don't fit "our" version of the period at all. It makes for an interesting mix that increased my interest in the story. Additionally, the vocabulary and lots of situations Jonny and Hamilton find themselves in are very sexually charged throughout, and there is never a dull moment.

If you like unusual, interesting men whom you’d like to get to know better, if you prefer a story with lots of twists and turns, if suspenseful action/adventure is your thing, and if you’re looking for an entertaining read set in a very different world, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do.





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

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 200 pages/64596 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 23-January-2018
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
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