John Chapman, (loosely based on Johnny Appleseed), led a pretty exciting life towards the end of the 1700's. Man & Beast makes it even more exciting by exploring the romantic side of John's nature. This was my first book containing m/m romance and I found it to be just fine.
Chapman isn't much of a frontiersman and when he turns up on Daniel's doorstep in Pennsylvania, alone with no supplies and winter close on his heels, Daniel takes him in. "In" being a one room, two story cabin with an outhouse and a small barn. Soon snowed in, Daniel and John get to know each other better, but that soon turns out not to be a good thing. Daniel has a very nasty side and likes to drink and John can't wait for the spring thaw to make his escape.
The second part of the novel is about exactly that-John Chapman's escape. He soon begins to make a life for himself in a small town, even though he still has to hide his true nature, (being a homosexual during this time in American history is about the worse thing a man can be.) But not long after his new life is established, his past catches up to him as he always suspected it would, and John is forced to finally make a stand. Instead of running as he always has before, John turns and faces the enemy. Will he survive? You'll have to read this to find out!
Not being a reader of romance at all, never mind a gay one, I was extremely nervous to read this book. Turns out, I needn't have worried. Most romances I've tried in the past just seemed silly and the characters rather vapid, but none of that occurred here. The story took precedence, the romance being secondary, and that worked well for me. To be honest, I was a little freaked out by the sex scenes in the first half of the book, but those scenes were distinctly different in the second half and I settled down with it.
For a novel entirely out of my wheelhouse, I enjoyed Man & Beast. Not having had much experience with romances or gay fiction, my opinion may not mean much, but what's important to me is the STORY, and in that regard, this book delivers. I learned a lot about history, (this book was thoroughly researched), and a bit about gay relationships as well. I learned that in the end, we're all the same and we just want to be ourselves and to be loved. How can a book with that message be a bad thing?
Recommended to fans of historical fiction and romance!
You can buy your copy here: Man & Beast (The Savage Land Book 1)
*I was given a review copy free of charge, in exchange for my honest feedback. This it it. Additionally, I've known the author online for a while now and consider him to be a friend. This did not affect the contents of my review.*