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Hot Valley Paperback – 18 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Cleis Press (18 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573442798
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573442794
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Unlike most young men, I never longed for glory or adventure on the field of battle. Read the first page
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Erastes on 5 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ansley Vaughan on 26 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
For some reason, I got the impression that 'Hot Valley' was going to be more serious than James Lear's earlier work. I was wrong -- up to a point. Readers whose experience begins with his previous novel, 'The Back Passage', might be surprised at a difference in tone here; but if you've read 'The Low Road' or 'The Palace of Varieties', you'll discover a familiar Lear theme; the selfish, wanton young man, indulging in wild and indiscriminate gay sex until he's finally redeemed by the pricking of conscience and the cleansing salve of love.

Jack Edgerton is the scion of a rich Vermont family, sowing his wild oats - and believe me, they're wild - in the years just before the American Civil War. One of my favourite episodes has the nineteen-year-old Jack, determined to lose his virginity, going in search of the roughest of rough trade on the wrong side of the tracks. And so beginning a wonderful career of debauchery.

Later, he meets his match, in all senses, in Aaron Johnson, the son of a southern plantation owner and a slave woman. Aaron is everything Jack is not; studious, hard-working, thoughtful and restrained. (Though not for the whole book, you'll be glad to hear.)

Inexorably, both men get drawn into the war, and Jack's long journey to salvation begins. I know a bit about this period, and it all felt very authentic to me. Lear has a great broad-brush technique; he doesn't bombard the reader with historical information - something which must have been a temptation here. But the picture he creates is vivid. Yes, the preponderance of willing homosexual partners is wonderfully coincidental, but then it's a gay fantasy; one might say a historical fairy story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve on 20 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully and outrageously sexy book in which its heroes lurch from one explicitly detailed encounter with other men, individually, severally and serially and eventually, despite the vicissitudes of war, manage to find true love with each other though, it has to be said, there is little in the preceding pages to make one think the relationship will be exclusive.
The story is set in the American civil war and there is the occasional battle, other than over who can get his pants down fastest.
Lear writes well as well as lasciviously and what makes his books such a joy is that they are the literary equivalent of the drawings of Tom of Finland: they celebrate priapically proud men having humungously great sex at every available opportunity and, as with his other books, this story is written with zest and style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Avery on 15 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
I have read several of James Lear's novels and thoroughly enjoyed them, particularly the gay whodunnits. However I found this novel disappointing. There was one gay orgy after another with relatively little plot or fleshing out of the characters. The novel is set in the American Civil War with plenty of prejudice and hatred but that does not seem to inhibit the characters in the book. If you are in search of homosexual titillation then this will suit you fine. If you want a good read then this is not for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
What You See Is What You Get In This Novel 20 May 2007
By H. F. Corbin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too often gay-themed-- whatever that means-- novels have covers that have nothing to do with the story. That is certainly not the case in James Lear's HOT VALLEY, the tale of Aaron Johnson, the son of a freed slave, and Jack Edgerton, a young man of privilege from Vermont. The action takes place from 1861 to 1964 in bedrooms, barrooms, toilets, jails, the forest, military camps, etc., and anywhere else that men meet up with each other. Set against the events of the Civil War, this novel is about men having sex with men. All the men, to a person, are goodlooking, have beautiful bodies, are well endowed and have sexual appetites that outdo a satyr.

If you are looking for a historical novel about the Civil War, you'll need to look elsewhere. In most of the novel, at least the first two-thirds are more, the characters are pretty much oblivious to what is going on around them. This is not a gay version of Ken Burns' "Civil War" series. If you want decent gay erotica-- although some of the coupling gets repetitious and boring-- then this book is for you. The story line, thin as it is, is of course total fantasy. Well perhaps not. After all, there is Thomas Jefferson's mating with his slave although his beliefs about punishment for homosexuality were pretty grim.

Lear dedicates this novel to Richard Amory, author of the famous THE SONG OF THE LOON trilogy, an approprite dedication as this novel owes much more to those novels than to anything that happened in GONE WITH THE WIND.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Privates on Parade 11 July 2007
By Kevin Killian - Published on
Format: Paperback
Don't you love the "key phrases" ("Statistically Improbable Phrases") that Amazon's computers have isolated for HOT VALLEY A NOVEL? As so often, I can't actually type the words into my review for the internal cursors would swoop down and consign my review onto the back burner forever.

I loved James Lear's previous book with Cleis Press, THE BACK PASSAGE, a Golden Age Detective novel made new and freshened up considerably by larding on pages and pages of hard core erotica into it, so I was anxious to get my paws on HOT VALLEY and didn't really care too much what it was about. Now that I've read it, I can see why Lear seems to avoid completely the humor that enlivened the sex, murder and class revolution elements of his detective saga, but I have to say, I miss them a bit. Maybe he thought that the American Civil War, with its fields of blood and its families torn apart by conflicting loyalties, not to mention the race angle that still haunts American society, wasn't the place to lighten up. Pity that, for the war aspects of HOT VALLEY are intense enough to make you think, all this suffering is killing my erection.

That said, the basic set up is admirably sketched and embellished. The white boy and the black, despising each other at the beginning of the book, one politically advanced and the other thinking between his legs, and somehow drifting into the most terrible battles of the War, and then in the second half the growing dependence of Jack for Aaron, then the love that grows between them--all this is admirably told. Okay, so Jack is a bit of a cliche slut. Okay, so the band of marauders he falls in with, as a sort of love captive (like Marlene Dietrich in MOROCCO), is one-dimensionally evil or unthinking. Still there are some great hot scenes here, and it would give away too much of my private life to tell you which one I found the best. Okay, okay, you twist my arm, I'll tell you. Why it's Captain Healey's psychological, then medical exam of Jack in the dusty, overwarm Montpelier office. As far as I'm concerned, his next book could be all about HOT VALLEY HOSPITAL and I'd order ten or twelve copies. Good work all around, thanks again, Mr. Lear.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Remember "Song of the Loon"? 3 Sept. 2007
By David Rockwell - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a transplanted Vermonter, who also lived in the Shenandoah Valley
for awhile, the setting caught my interest (some historical detail:
there was a very thriving water spa in Brattleboro Vermont around the
time the novel begins). The hot sex (come on, that's what you're interested in ,right?) kept me riveted to the page. Interesting plot twists, various couplings, good background. I thoroughly enjoyed the
book and am keeping it at hand for my collection.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Extreme gay erotica 13 Jan. 2009
By Bryl R. Tyne - Published on
Format: Paperback
One of the most erotic gay male romances I've read. How Mr. Lear combined the numerous erotic accounts with such a riveting Civil War era story...I'm impressed.

I especially liked how the author developed the characters. There are no long, drawn-out descriptions. It is left to the reader to interpret the characters according to their actions, and yet, understanding the characters' motivations and visualizing them is easily done. Very compelling and an unbelievably hot read.

If you're into reading m/m erotica, you'll enjoy Hot Valley, by James Lear.
The Best For Last 5 Sept. 2010
By Aryael de Kaprii - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe that Hot Vally was Lear's 2nd or 3rd Novel, but when I wanted it, the book was not avail. so I ended up reading Back Passage first, then I followed with the next 2 Mitch Mitchell Mysteries. After that I read Low Road, then Palace of Varieties and I finished with Hot Valley. This was a great book. Lear at his best. The story was full of emotion, drama and excitement. It was a non-stop ride through the Civil War, that part of the Civil War that they dont tell you about in school. Lear's romance was sweet, the sexuality was hot and the honesty was refreshing. While I appreciate the candy coated versions of gay-male sexuality so often found in m/m romance novels, Lear's truth about the natural functions of the body and the need to clean ones-self prior to intimacy was well done. His honesty grounds the story into reality. I have mentioned before that what I love about Lear is his rough and gritty depictions. His prose is very masculine, very direct and very... There. Lear puts his readers into the moment, with the description of sight, taste and smell. He taps into your senses by communicating with your brain. Suddenly you are...There.

Jack Edgerton is the son of a weathly business man in Vermont. He has allowed his sexuality to be his reason for living a wreckless life. Hooking up with random blue collar men, with rough exteriors in bar's and bathrooms, young Edgerton -he was 19 when he started bar-hopping -developed a reputation that shamed his family. All this was going on when the southern states made the decision to succeed from the Union. As History teaches, our 16th President Abraham Lincoln launched the civil war and destroyed the confederate army after a grueling battle that took the lives of many in the most ugly and most brutal way. Lear did a good job depicting this truth in the midst of this sexually charged romance and adventurous coming of age story.

Aaron Johnson is the son of a freed slave (woman) and a white plantation owner. An educated black man, Johnson moved to Vermont with the hope of becoming a successful business man. He began to work for Jack Edgerton's father but didnt expect to fall in love with Boss-Edgerton's 19 year old son. This seems to be an issue for me, being that (like Aaron Johnson) I am the son of a black woman and a white man. I have white skin, full lips, narrow turned up nose, thick curly hair and dark eyes. I have the perfect blend of white and black features. I seemed to me that Lear just threw Aaron into the black pot without giving him any white features. He had brown skin, he had full lips, he had thick dark hair and I couldnt help but ask myself over and over, why not just let Aaron be a black man. Plain and simple he could have been a black son of black slaves and perhaps someone (white) took an interst in him to education him. The story the way Lear tells it, really does not require Aaron to be half black half white. It would have worked much better for me, if Aaron had had a better of blend of white and black... it is a fact that white male genes are very strong when they are the father of bi-racial children. Dont let Hollywood fool you, a lot of "black" slaves looked uncannily white.

NE Way... in order for the story to work well for me, I had to picture Aaron looking something like Colon Powel or "Kid" fron Kid N Play. LMAO!!! Then the story took off. I will admit, I put myself in Aaron's position as well, being that I look like the typical child of a white man and a black woman. There was even a moment when I started seeing Zac Efron as Jack and Corbin Blue as Aaron. BUT I DIGRESS.

Overall the story was fantastic. It moved and moved along well as Jack grew to understand the world around him, went on a great adventure that eventually led him to true love and GAY MECCA.
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