Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon
The Gentleman's Madness
Samhain / December 31, 2013 / $4.50 digital
No pride. No privacy. No hope.
Academic John Gilliam thought being caught embracing another man was the worst that could happen. Until he agrees to “treatment” at an asylum, where a vicious attack leaves him shaken and afraid.
But having all means of writing or reading taken from him… That is a serious threat to his sanity. Then a moment of kindness from an asylum attendant begins to restore his dignity.
Sam Tully feels sorry for the patient everyone calls “the professor”, but with a back injury that cost him his job on the docks—and without the education that would have bettered his position—he tries to keep his head down, and a tight lid on his attraction to men.
As John prays for freedom, he grows closer to the gentle, innately intelligent Tully. In spite of themselves, forbidden attraction leads to touches, kisses, and more. But there’s something other than curative treatments going on at the asylum. When John and Tully uncover a heinous conspiracy, their very lives are in danger.
John Gilliam is an academic, a son of a well-off brewer in Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon’s latest historical male/male romance. His family commits him to an asylum after his father discovers John in an embrace with another man. John willingly enters the asylum for treatment, never imagining the loneliness, deprivation and horror that he would face. After being attacked by a guard and blamed for the assault, John is moved to a different institution. While things are better, John still has to deal with frequent cold water treatments, solitary confinement, and the loss of his books.
John thought he’d known despair after the electrical treatments at the previous asylum. Here at Fairpark, the series of hot- then cold-water dunks had pushed him to an even lower point. And the, life seemed worse when several experts examined his privates while discussing any strange attributes - apparently, men like him himself pointed to the left.
This morning proved his situation could sink to a deeper level of hell.
They’d taken away his pens and pencils because, they said, he might stab himself. The paper and ink remained, but unless he used his fingertip, he’d lost the ability to write.
John’s situation takes a turn for the better when he makes a connection with Sam Tully, an asylum attendant who is sympathetic to John’s plight. Tully knows that John isn’t crazy or perverted for being attracted to men, as it is a trait that Sam shares. But Sam is cautious, not wanting to reveal his own preferences publicly—with very good reason.
While locked away, John has trouble keeping his emotions in check. He has been denied access to his books and pens, as his doctors identify his academic leanings and time spent in school surrounded by young boys as triggers to his perverted leanings. But Tully helps John get supervised access to books and to his writing implements.
During their daily visits, John and Tully get to know each other. John offers to teach Tully, helping him improve his reading skills and the like. Tully agrees, although mostly because he thinks it will give John happiness. But this time together quickly becomes the highlight of each’s day. The two have to be careful though because there are people in the asylum watching them, ready to cause trouble—and John especially can’t afford to be caught with another man.
Life in the asylum is stark, depressing and even violent at times. The conditions are deplorable and difficult to read about, giving The Gentleman’s Madness a dark and disturbing vibe. John and Tully are the bright spots. Their developing relationship represents the one spot of joy in a place that seems incapable of healing anyone. Tully is the only person working at the asylum who seems to have genuine care for the patients. He and John are the only sympathetic characters in this story.
As it becomes apparent that John’s doctor is not convinced that he is ready to be returned to the world, the two men must use their wits to find a solution. Should John escape? Is there something sinister going on in the asylum? Why does someone have it in for John? But there is a bigger question for this couple. What will happen if John is released? Tully is socially beneath John, so their ability to remain together is in question. And what of John’s career? Can he return to academia? Can these two find a way to get their happily ever after?
The Gentleman’s Madness is a tough, emotional read, but well worth the effort. John and Tully’s love is a forbidden one, making for some serious angst.
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