Book Reviews

Stranger in Translation by Charles Raines

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 02-October-2012

Book Blurb

An opinionated young linguist signs a six month contract to translate a ‘Bestseller’ from English into French, on the condition that he can do the job in France. He has nothing but contempt for the book’s author, hates the dull, routine work he has to do, and despises the banality of his own life. Something is missing. Hesitant and frustrated, his ambivalent sexual desires are untapped, but always bubbling below the surface. Feeling like an outsider, the only way to cope is to find a distraction, try to blend in, and strive to fully embrace the French way of life.

The local cemetery offers shelter and serenity, and the backstreets of Marseilles offer danger and excitement. Balancing the two, he meets a succession of men and has a series of erotic encounters which gradually mould him into exactly the man he secretly always wanted to be.

NB. This Novella contains explicit descriptions of erotic and sexual situations in m/m romance. Mature readers only.

Book Review

Depending on how the word is defined, stranger can have several meanings. In 'Stranger in Translation' Charles Raines takes full advantage of this diversity, creating not merely an intriguing story, but an enigma as well. The story is told in first person and the narrator is never named, therefore, he remains a stranger. He takes us on a whirlwind tour, not only of life in a French city, but also one of his own conflicted thoughts and feelings. He's in denial, not able to acknowledge that his attitudes are perpetuating his feelings of isolation and non-acceptance. He's a stranger to the rules of life and has not yet learned to translate them. His position of stranger will endure unless he's able to form a more realistic view of his attitudes toward himself and others.

Our translator is like so many young people. He thinks they've got life all figured out; but as time goes by, it begins to dawn on him that he doesn't even know what he doesn't know. He's put him in this neat, secure little box and never ventures out of it. The chap wants to fit in, but goes out of his way to be different. He does this because it's the proper thing to do, such as wearing a suit even though he works at home. As the story moves along, his clothing becomes more suited to the situation, showing that he's relaxing his ridiculously inflexible standards and becoming more aware.

The same holds true for his sexual exploits. His inclination toward men is both a desire and a curse because he is too inhibited to follow through. When he finally does break into the gay scene, he limits himself to meaningless one-offs rather than pursuing a loving relationship. As he said: “That's what men do.”  When he meets another stranger, a jogger, running in a cemetery of all places, he forms an attachment to him which is so categorically different from his other encounters, that it makes him acutely aware of his need for love and companionship. Their deeper relationship seems to be quite mutual and he's lured into a false sense of security. He thinks he truly knows this man and is ready to commit. However, the object of his affection turns out to be more of a stranger to him than anyone and turns his world upside down.

This book is a well-written account of a young man coming to terms with his sexual orientation in a very dramatic way. His narration gives us the opportunity to share the highs and lows of his conflicted feelings, taking us through his struggle with him. Instead of the sexual encounters being portrayed in graphic detail, they are presented in a sensual and passionate way, which I found quite refreshing. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story with a challenge, one which will keep you on your toes with its hints, clues, and intensity, while presenting an intriguing journey both physically and mentally. It's a story which you will ponder long after closing the book. Thank you, Charles, for the mental exercise and the powerful story.   




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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 92 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 05-May-2012
Price $2.99 ebook, $4.99 paperback
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