As the famous riverboat Le Beau Soleil lazily steams down the mighty Mississippi into the heart of the South, distractions of every sort attempt to pull agent for the Treasury Johnny Stanley away from his assignment. While liquor and gaming are no great temptations, his fascination with Le Beau Soleil’s owner, the debonair Frankie Deramus, means Johnny’s steadfast denial of his attraction to men is no longer feasible. Johnny fights his lust, but when he must come to Frankie’s aid, he can’t ignore his urges any longer.
Their passionate love affair falls apart when Johnny refuses to admit two men can be in love. A bitter confrontation between the lovers at a Mardi Gras masquerade forces Johnny to run north. Frankie tries to follow, but the Southern states secede one by one, making it impossible to track Johnny down. The Civil War pits brother against brother and separates lover from lover. When at last the lovers meet again, it’s on the battlefield….
I love historical fiction, and I’d very much enjoyed the first book I’d read from Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Beloved Pilgrim so when he asked if I’d like to review another title by him I said yes please!
As with his other story, the research is detailed and meticulous. Within a few pages I felt as though I had stepped back in time to just before the American Civil War. It is a fascinating period of history which pitted loved ones against each other, and the author captures not only this but the lead up into it. I’ve never been to New Orleans but I could picture it and its people very easily with Moss’s descriptions. Beginning the story before the war served to bring home the upheaval it caused. The horror of the battlefield is not treated lightly, and the difficult choices facing those who decide to fight is not glossed over.
Moss paints a very realistic portrait of the time and the people who lived through it. I fell in love with the characters very quickly. Frankie and Johnny are men who deal with not only their sexuality but their path in life in very different ways. I particularly loved the way Moss reflected Johnny’s struggle to accept who he truly was. He doesn’t just deny his attraction to men, but his own culture by using an English version of his German name. Johnny lives in fear of being caught out and until he is able to stop running from himself, he and Frankie will never have a proper relationship.
Frankie, on the other hand, is confident, almost to the point where he lives a bit too close to a dangerous edge. While his indiscretions with other men are tolerated in New Orleans, others aren’t so tolerant. Being discovered to be homosexual brings with it very serious consequences. War has a habit of changing rules, and shaking people out of their comfortable existence. One of my favourite parts of the book is when Frankie and Johnny finally meet again but it’s on the battlefield…
It wasn’t just Frankie and Johnny I fell for while reading this book. All of the supporting characters are very three dimensional, including Le Beau Soleil, Frankie’s riverboat. Michael Murphy, an old friend of Frankie’s is a man who brings with him a very interesting past, which is hinted at in this story. I’m looking forward to reading more about him in In Angel Eyes.
I’d highly recommend Where My Love Lies Dreaming for readers who enjoy a well researched historical story with three dimensional characters, an intelligent plot, and a good mixture of action and drama.