I was so enamoured of Mr Lear's last novel "The Back Passage" that I looked forward to this book rather a lot. I was rather dissapointed. Whilst it won't dissapoint readers who like a hot scene to excite them on every other page, that's where the book failed for me.
In The Back Passage, the hero goes from sexual encounter to sexual encounter in his quest to find out clues for a murder in an Agatha Christie style romp and although the sex is possibly gratuitous its cleverly done and never feels like it. There's also much wit and humour.
But Hot Valley - set in the American Civil war - it just felt to me that sex scene after sex scene after sex scene... were linked tenuously with the hero's travels. It felt like the background of the war is added as an afterthought. It also feels hugely anachronistic as surely 1860 America wasn't so accepting of gay sex. Every single man that the protagonist meets, from his co-workers, his father's employers, drinking companions, fellow soldiers - everyone! Wants to (and does) have sex with him in many various ways. As much as I enjoy (heaven knows!) an erotic book, there is a case for Too Much - and I found myself hoping that the next man that Jack met simply wanted to have a chat. Or a cuppa tea. Or anything! I found myself skipping the sex to find the next piece of plot.
I'm sorry, James, that I didn't like it. I wanted to, but I was hoping for a good historical romp but didn't find it in Hot Valley.