Reviewed by Dan
This is a Series Review of Village Love (Books 0.5 and 1.0)
AUTHOR: Lillian Francis
PUBLISHER: Finally Love Press
Once in a while, I like to foray off from my angst driven, dark and primarily speculative fiction laden “to be read” pile. When I do, I hope to find stories like the ones I’m reviewing here today. They are both feels good stories, and the second is a direct continuation of the first, so we already know the characters by that point. I’m actually glad I didn’t find the first one until the second was already out, so that I got more of the story.
I’ll be honest, I think these stories fit me really well today because of the subject matter and characters. But in addition, some personal nostalgia and experiences might have crept into my assessment as well. The whole MRI sequence, the shoulder injury, and the mate named Smudge, all played to my personal experiences, and in the case of Smudge, got me thinking about a friend from the UK that I lost touch with more than thirty years ago.
Ms. Francis did a wonderful job with the story of two very different men. Rick, a white average Englishman handyman/gardener from a small village, and Malik, a Pakistani Muslim Radiographer from the inner city of London.
The tale of these two meeting and overcoming each of their fears and concerns along the way was a fun read. I really liked the men, as well as the background characters in the little village of Slopy Bottom. Dare I hope for other tales from Slopy Bottom? Only time, and the author, will tell…
I highly recommend the two stories I’ve reviewed here today. I guess you could read Resistance without reading Resonance first. But why would you? They are both a delight.
LENGTH: 43 Pages
RELEASE DATE: October 25, 2015
Resonance: The quality in a sound. The power to evoke enduring emotions. Sometimes one can result in the other.
Rick Brandt would never have said he was claustrophobic; after all he’s been in plenty of enclosed spaces in his job as the village’s only handyman cum gardener. He even squeezed into a disused coal chute to rescue a trapped dog for an elderly resident. So why did opening his eyes in the MRI scanner induce a breath stealing freak-out that has him jabbing at the panic button.
Luckily, Mal, the radiographer running his scan has a pleasant voice and an excellent bedside manner that soothes Rick’s frayed nerves and rabbity heartbeat. Soon the resonance of his tone has gone beyond calming and Rick is lost in a fantasy of the man behind the voice. But things aren’t always what they seem and when Rick’s shocked surprise at the reality causes offence, the likelihood of him getting to experience Mal’s true bedside manner appears to be slipping away.
I really enjoyed this short story prelude. The details of the MRI made me chuckle, because they were so spot on. It appears that MRIs in the UK follow the exact same pattern as here in the US. I have to have them regularly, and every step of the way through the process was like she was reading my mind. I remember that panic attack the first time I had one as well. Great job with that!
Rick Brandt rushes close to an hour and half from his sleepy little English village to London to take an available last minute appointment for an MRI on his shoulder. Having just had one of those as well, I could sympathize. There is only one major problem, Rick doesn’t realize that he is claustrophobic until he opens up his eyes, with his head locked in that little cage contraption they use, and sees that the top of the tube is literally inches from his nose. When he panics, and hits the panic button, he is pulled out, talked down, and then put back in to finish the test.
He asks Mal, the man doing the scan to talk to him instead of making him listen to the vapid radio station on the headphones. Rick quickly falls for Mal’s voice, imagining a blond, blue eyed Malcolm in the other room. Imagine his surprise when he meets Malik, the young Pakistani Muslim man who is actually behind the voice.
I can’t wait to see where the story goes next!
LENGTH: 150 Pages
RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2016
How long can you wait on a promise?
After his first night with Mal, Rick broke the habit of a lifetime and invited the sexy radiographer to spend the weekend in the sleepy English village he called home. Rick isn’t in denial but he’s afraid to reveal his sexuality in the close-knit community that has known him since he was a babe in arms.
The sex is amazing but equally Mal loves lazy days spent in the garden at Slopy Bottom, and every precious moment he spends with Rick. For Mal the village quickly becomes an oasis of peace, far from the noise and grime of life in London, a slice of tranquillity with Rick at the heart. But Mal has defied his family and his religion to be true to himself, and there is no way can he join Rick in his self-built closet, no matter how comfortable it is…
Rick is afraid revealing the true nature of his relationship with Mal will change the way his neighbours see him. He adores these people, this village, and he can’t face the thought of losing everything over who he chooses to sleep with. When the alternative is giving up a man who has slotted perfectly into his life—a man who he might just love—it’s no choice at all. But, knowing what has to be done isn’t always as easy as putting it into practice.
I was so in the mood for this sweet, no angst love story. Malik and Rick are the sort of feel good couple that leave you with a smile on your face. Was there some drama, some resistance to change, resistance to coming out, and some miscommunication in their story? Of course. Isn’t there in any new relationship?
When we rejoin the two men, they’ve moved beyond the initial infatuation stage and started spending weekends together…well…sort of. Rick is still in a panic about Mal coming to his tiny village of Slopy Bottom because it is so tiny that everyone knows everyone else’s business. How will he hide that he and Mal are seeing each other if he comes? So he is making excuses right and left and going to London to see Mal instead of Mal coming to see him.
Then Mal surprises him by already being on the train out from London when he calls him. Rick can’t back out this time, and Mal arrives for the weekend. What follows is a series of weekends as the men get to know each other better. But will the residents of Slopy Bottom, who have known Rick all his life, understand what is going on? How will they react?
I’m really hoping we get some more of their story. This one ends in a great place, but I’d like more! What happens with Malik’s mother, sister and cousin? What is the story with some of the other men in the sleepy little village? Inquiring minds want to know! Well…at least this one does!
I highly recommend this story. If you’re in the mood for a feels good type read, it would be perfect.