A big welcome to Mel Gough as part of her release blitz with Gay Book Promotions for A Leap of Faith.
This is the first story I’ve read by this author and I couldn’t put it down. I thought the author captured the feel of the time period well with the growing unrest in South Africa, and attitude and laws against homosexuality. Daniel and Eddie are both layered, interesting characters, and I got drawn into their story immediately.
I haven’t read a story before which has one POV in 1st, and the other in 3rd, but I thought it worked well for the Daniel and Eddie’s personalities and stories. I liked how they are immediately attracted to each other yet both try to fight it, which is understandable given the time period and the consequences of being discovered. I also liked how their forbidden love mirrored the situation of the young mixed race couple they try to help. The author doesn’t pull any punches in regard to Daniel’s PTSD in the aftermath of the war, and I thought she portrayed it realistically. Daniel’s backstory about James is tragic.
I enjoyed reading about Daniel and Eddie tentatively getting to know each other, and being careful, yet not careful enough! The situation around Daniel breaking things off with Eddie is heartbreaking, yet realistic, and I thought the author did a great job in portraying Hogarth and his reaction, especially considering all the good Daniel and Eddie have done for his hospital.
I liked how Daniel struggles with his faith alongside his heartbreak and worsening nightmares. I liked Betty, who has her own tragedy to deal with yet doesn’t put her own future above Daniel’s. Eddie’s parents and his background are so much the opposite of Daniel’s, yet they fit so well together. Everything in this story felt very real, and at one book I was wondering how these guys would get their happy ending. I thought the conclusion was nicely done, although poor Daniel! I very much enjoyed the epilogue and glimpse into their lives ten year on.
5 out of 5 stars.
Book Title: A Leap of Faith
Author: Mel Gough
Publisher: Red Dog Press
Cover Artist: Red Dog Press
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Genre: Historical MM romance
Trope: Forbidden love
Themes: Struggle with societal norms
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 77 500 words
It is a standalone story.
An evocative tale of love, fear and duty, set against the backdrop of the nineteen fifties, with the emergence of apartheid in South Africa and the criminal nature of homosexuality in the UK.
South Africa, 1953 – Father Daniel Blakemore is happy on his missionary secondment in a small, rural Providence Hospital on the Eastern Cape. Being away from England makes it easier for him to conceal his homosexuality – a secret that would destroy everything he’s ever worked for.
But when Doctor Eddie Raleigh takes up his new position at Providence, the two men are instantly drawn to one another. Their liaison represents both Daniel’s deepest desire and his worst nightmare. If the archdeacon in London learns of his true nature, Daniel’s life in the church will be over.
Broken-hearted, Daniel breaks things off with Eddie. And to get away from his sorrows, he leaves his beloved missionary work behind, and returns to Stepney.
Will time and distance alleviate Daniel’s pain, or will happiness be forever elusive? Or will love, finally, find a way?
Doctor Eddie Raleigh and I met for the first time on an unusually hot day in January. At the time, my head was inside the end of a VW bus, and my arms and shirt were covered in motor oil. The bus, which doubled as our ambulance, had sat uselessly in the hospital’s courtyard for weeks, and I was determined to do something about it.
“I can’t see what the problem is.” I wiped my brow with an oily sleeve. “That bolt’s tight, but this pipe is still dripping… Anton, hand me the other wrench?”
Without taking my eyes off the engine, I stretched out a hand in the direction of the half a dozen boys who were watching my futile attempt at vehicle repairs with great interest and many unhelpful comments. When the tool wasn’t forthcoming, I glanced up. All I could see of the boys were their narrow backs, clad in an array of cast-off shirts. They were looking at something I couldn’t see.
I straightened, narrowly missing cracking my head on the open engine hatch.
A stranger stood at the front of the bus, holding a small leather suitcase in one hand and a white trilby hat in the other. He was tall and slender, with a shock of reddish hair that brushed the collar of his tailored shirt. He was in shirtsleeves; a summer coat hung in limp folds over the suitcase. He gave an impression of the slightly rumpled elegance seen in the well-to-do traveller.
The boys remained still as salt pillars, so I took charge. “Hello there. Can we help?”
He approached, looking relieved about the friendly break of the stand-off. Close up, a fine spray of freckles dotting his nose and cheeks captured my attention. He had high cheekbones, and laughter lines around the eyes. His jade-green gaze gave me a sudden jolt, like I’d missed a step while hurrying down a flight of stairs. He smiled, his face lighting up with an openness that was rare and refreshing. The way his mouth quirked at one corner made my cheeks burn.
“Do you need assistance?” I attributed the uncharacteristic edge in my voice to the forward way his gaze still held mine fast. Instantly, anxiety washed over me. Did he think me rude? But his smile was unwavering.
“I’m Edward Raleigh.” His voice was low and pleasant. “The new doctor.” He extended his hand. At the last moment I remembered the engine grease on my fingers. I grimaced, holding my arm rigidly by my side.
“You don’t want to get grease all over you.” In lieu of a handshake I put all the warmth I had into the words. “How do you do. I’m Father Daniel Blakemore. Welcome to Providence Hospital, Doctor Raleigh. We’re very glad to have you on board.”
“It’s good to be here at last.” From his tone, it wasn’t difficult to deduce the relief of a journey finally completed. He smiled that bright smile again. “And to be so promptly appreciated.”
“You’ll want to see Mr Hogarth.” That was the hospital’s director and head surgeon. I sized up the boys. “Anton, take Doctor Raleigh to the administrative offices.”
“Thank you, Father.” Raleigh’s smile was just for me this time. Until he turned to Anton, at least. “Ready when you are.”
The boy looked proud to be entrusted with this important task. “This way.” He set off towards the hospital, his back straight, his eyes twinkling with curiosity. I tried to see the white, two-storey building with its gabled red roof through the eyes of the elegant doctor. Hopefully, Raleigh would be too busy digesting his unfamiliar surroundings to notice the cracks in the walls and the peeling paint.
“Clinic’s just finished for the day.” Anton’s voice carried from halfway across the deserted courtyard. He seemed to be responding to a question from Raleigh. “Don’t get used to the quiet. It doesn’t last.”
Something in the doctor’s response made Anton grin. He hurried to hold the door to the Casualty department and let Raleigh precede him. A smile stole onto my face. Despite his elegance, I had an inkling that Raleigh would fit right in.
“The new doctor is very tall.”
I turned my attention to the boys still crowding around the bus. The speaker, a small, wiry lad of about ten, grinned at me.
I chuckled. “So he is.” Turning back to the engine with its intractable tangle of wires and pipes, I gave a sigh. “Gentlemen, back to it. Someone hand me the flat-blade screwdriver, please.”
About the Author
Mel Gough has self-published eight contemporary and historical romance novels and novellas. She was shortlisted for the inaugural Selfies Award with her romantic suspense novel He is Mine. A Leap of Faith was longlisted for the Bridport Award 2019 and shortlisted for the First Novel Award in the same year. Mel lives in London.
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