A touching romance with unusual historical settings, and forbidden erotism
I read House of Mirrors twice. First, when I got it, in a hurry to know what was going to happen next. And again this week, before writing the review. I liked it more the second time around. The authors brilliantly conveyed this story woven in human suffering, suspense, and prohibited passions.
House of Mirrors is hard to review without spoiling the storyline, so I will focus on the relationship of the main characters. Taking a moment to praise the great secondary ones, all interesting well-developed characters, and the original setting of a wandering carnival touring the American Midwest during 1902.
I'll always remember the opening of this book. It touched me to read how badly Jonah Talbot, a preacher's son, is beaten, when his family discovers his affair with Ezekiel Burns, a minister from Jonah's father's congregation, who betrays and blames Jonah when they are compromised.
Desperate, Jonah approaches a carnival trying to escape his hometown. All he needs is a job, a place to recover and a way to travel. He finds much more in Rafe Grimstone, the ringmaster and owner of the carnival. A cynical and mysterious man, who doesn't know what to do with Jonah, who seems too good to be true.
Jonah finds Rafe in the worse moment of his life, and is like love at first sight, for a man as none as he has seen before. Jonah is impressed by Rafe's looks and voice, soon learning they share a penchant for Shakespeare, poetry and forbidden, but inescapable desires.
Jonah opens the curtains of Rafe's murky staged existence, letting the light into it with his smile, sense of humor and honest love. A love capable of erasing the dark bounds in Rafe's torture past that still affects his present. Disheartened, Rafe finds hard to believe Jonah's goodwill and cheerful disposition. Thinking that their mutual passion jeopardizes their current circumstances.
Working hard, Jonah earns his place in the circus regardless of his relation with Rafe. In a short time Jonah makes close friends, but as the storyline unfolds, misadventure awaits. One of my favorite parts of the story is, when Rafe encourages Jonah's playwright talent, giving him the opportunity to adapt some of Poe's works into performances.
Jonah rebels against the doctrine he'd grew up listening to, and pushing aside the guilt, fully embraces his sexuality. Rafe guards his real self in layers of stoicism and mystery. Layers that crumble first under his desire for Jonah and later collapse completely amid the tender intimacy the younger man offers him. Jonah uses every technique he learned during his ill-fated romance to seduce Rafe. Who in spite of being older, only has the experience of illicit, but quick encounters, being easily surpassed by Jonah's avid conquest.
I love happy endings, that's why I read romance, but some are better than others, the one from House of Mirrors I enjoyed it very much. After the sorrow we endured during some parts of the book, the way the authors wrapped the story is a reason for smiling after reading its conclusion.
If you need to relax, and forget about things immersed in a journey that will make you cry and laugh, while being the voyeur in steamy love scenes, this is the book for you. Another recommended read from me.