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Mere Mortals Paperback – 13 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lethel Press (13 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590210433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590210437
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,492,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erastes was born in Essex in 1959, and has lived in too many places to count since.

She writes gay historical fiction and short stories which have been published in over 20 anthologies. Her first novel Standish (Regency) was nominated for a Lambda award and her second, Transgressions (English Civil War) is part of the ground breaking line by Running Press which is attempting to bring gay historical romance to the mainstream romance reader.

Her releases for 2011 are: Mere Mortals (Lethe Press), Muffled Drum (Carina), and Junction X (Cheyenne Publishing)

Check out her website: www.erastes.com

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan Roebuck on 18 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
The air of the cold Norfolk Broads seeps into your bones from the very first page of "Mere Mortals". As the novel develops, the atmosphere is tangible, I could feel it and live it along with the protagonist, Crispin, who, as an orphan, is transported from his school to his life as a ward of Philip Smallwood who lives in a dark mansion on an island in the Broads.

There was something of du Maurier's Rebecca simmering under the skin of this brilliant story and the quality of writing is just as good. My congratulations to Erastes for her obvious attention to small details: the historical aspects of Victorian school life, the bigotry of that time, the aristocracy and the arts young people were expected to be skilled at, were spot on.

There are many questions to ask such as: why are three boys all wards of the hitherto unknown Smallwood? Just who is he? Will there be any romance between any of the characters? And, do I like Smallwood or not? Just like the many-corridored mansion, Erastes is a master at leading her reader into dark corners and dead ends. As you're reading, don't take anything for granted because you'll be in for a surprise.
Thoroughly recommended. And even if you don't like m/m fiction, that is no reason for you not to enjoy "Mere Mortals".
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I love male/male historical romances and anything with a hint of gothic about it. Although I'm not usually a fan of first person novels, in this case it worked well because we as the readers discover things at the same time as the protagonist, Crispin Thorne. It has a hint of the ghost story about it, although nothing explicitly supernatural happens in the narrative, you get the impression you wouldn't be surprised if it did. It was a wonderful sweeping story, but I have one quibble and that is with the ending.

After a build-up of tension for much of the book, we have the denoument and then the last paragraph skims over what happens next to our characters. It all seemed a bit rushed and I was a little disappointed. So four stars instead of five from me.
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By Ansonia on 5 Dec 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read Junction X by Erastes and this book was recommended to me. I am unfamiliar with the world of the Norfolk Broads, but the writer drew me into that world and I found myself intrigued by the setting as much as the characters. A very tense story, with twists and turns that were unexpected. I felt the ending was a little hurried, which is why I only give four stars, but this is certainly a book to re-read and savour.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ginger on 9 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is labelled as "gothic mystery", but to be honest the main mystery is spoilt alredy in the cover. If you read the synopsis and then watch the cover, you can understand what the "mystery" is about (at least I understood it).
The problem of this book is that it's very imbalanced.
For the first 23 chapters, we follow the three main characters in their new life in their guardian's house. We see them eating, taking classes, walking around, talking, etc etc, and every now and then the author leaves a "clue" about the above-mentioned mystery. Nothing more happens in the first 23 chapters.
In the last 3 chapters, all is revealed, and events unfold so quickly that some of the previous "clues" are left without explanation. So we are left wondering about, for example, a certain sentence, or about the behaviour of a certain character.
The real mystery of the book is "who loves who". The two love stories of the book come out the blue at the end of the book, and in this case too no great explanations are given (especially for the main love story). This happens also in another book by Erastes (standish) and I don't like it very much. I prefer when the characters take more time to fall in love with each other, and when we see the reasons why the do it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Sure to please fans of gay historical ficton and Gothic tales - superbly written 23 Mar 2011
By Gerry A. Burnie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When it comes to man-on-man, historical romance and adventure, the name Erastes invariably comes to the fore, and her latest creation, Mere Mortals [Lethe Press, March 23, 2011] is perhaps her best effort yet. It is in my mind, anyhow, and I've read and reviewed many of her novels and short stories in the past.

The first thing one notices about this novel is the subtlety with which the story unfolds, and the leisurely, measured pace that is so in keeping with a nineteenth-century theme. For example, the story opens with a coach ride through the countryside setting, and with this clever device the reader is invited aboard to see it for him/herself, i.e:

"There was nothing here to write about, or so it seemed. After so many years spent at school in the well manicured quadrangle and playing fields of Barton Hall, this new landscape seemed empty, untidy and bleak. A light mist covered the land as far as the horizon, little more than a thin vapour, but it was enough to drain all colour from the scene passing by the carriage window. I gave a wry smile. Colour that mainly consists of bleached dead reeds, brown ditches and brown muddy pools

"Since leaving Yarmouth the coach had travelled slowly north, following the coast road, such as it was. The coachman had warned us passengers that the roads were bad at this time of the year and he wasn't wrong; more than once the three of us - for that's all there was, travelling in the filthy weather - had to alight, braving the vicious biting wind to assist the coach out of one of the larger ruts we encountered. Even inside the coach with the curtains drawn, the wind sliced its way through any small gaps in the woodwork."

Ergo, in one deft stroke the author sets the tone, the pace, the theme, as well as introducing the narrator and some of the characters. This is writing at a very high level of the craft--almost a textbook example--and it is why Erastes has earned the respect she enjoys.

Mere Mortals is very much a Gothic story with the requisite manor located on a bleak mere, secret passageways, sphinx like servants, and a handsome but mysterious master. All of them playing their parts delightfully, as do the three boys. There is tension, too; plenty of it. Tension that is velvet-wrapped in mystery. It permeates the atmosphere but never becomes blatant or oppressive until it surfaces near the end; when the secret of Bittern's Reach is revealed.

If you are a fan of M/M romance, historical fiction or Gothic tales, all superbly written, then Mere Mortals is bound to please on all counts.

Gerry Burnie
"Two Irish Lads" & "Journey to Big Sky"
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Gothic by a Contemporary Master 18 May 2011
By Elliott Mackle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The conventions of Gothic romance are endlessly adaptable. While elastic enough to please fans of low-rent bodice rippers and highbrow fiction alike, the Gothic pattern of moves, symbols and character types can be woven by expert hands into something new and surprisingly contemporary. "Mere Mortals," by Erastes, is such a one.

The novel opens with a journey, first by coach, then boat, across the Norfolk Broads, a network of marshy rivers and lakes, ending at a large and mysterious mansion on a remote island. Young Crispin Thorne, a penniless orphan, having been removed from boarding school, arrives at Bittern's Reach, the seat of wealthy, well-bred Philip Smallwood, his newly named guardian. He is accompanied part of the way by another local worthy, Dr. Baynes. The latter, surprised to hear Thorne's story, indicates, without much explanation until later in the book, that neither he nor most members of the community are on close terms with Mr. Smallwood.

Thorne is greeted not by the master but by servants and by news that two other orphans, Myles Graham and Jude Middleton, have also been installed as Smallwood's wards. A program of gentlemanly education is begun forthwith. Each is given a valet, tailored clothes, handmade boots and other accouterments for every occasion, expensive watches, lessons in riding, fencing, music and dance, and tutoring on a variety of more academic subjects.

As individuals, the boys are almost entirely unalike. Where Thorne is shy, Jude is sly and sexually aggressive and Myles an athletic, more manly man type. Differences aside, what they have in common is at least a passing acquaintance with male-male desire or, to use their term, "inversion." Taken together, the trio stands in for the maiden in distress of Gothic convention. What's unconventional is that they not only discuss their previous experiences but begin to experiment among themselves.

Smallwood, all steely charm, returns, tutoring his wards further in the niceties of polite society. At odd moments, the boys explore the huge house, discovering secret doors, hidden passageways, forbidden rooms and evidence that all is not as it seems, either in their good fortune or in the mansion in which they have come to dwell. Smallwood decides to give a party, a sort of debut, to introduce his new wards to the neighboring gentry. There is a storm, a quarrel between the host and Dr. Byrne, the revelation of long buried secrets as well as new ones and ... enough! No spoilers here.

Erastes is a master of gay historical fiction. This is one of her best tales. Enjoy the ride for yourself.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gay Gothic Romance 20 May 2011
By K. Peoples - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like Erastes's writing. I enjoy gay romance novels and hers are among the best, in terms of plot, characters and quality of writing. This story, to me, was not her best, but it was quite good and well worth my time and effort.

In a time (early Victorian England) when being actively homosexual was an invitation to prison, if not to a hangman's noose, three teenage boys are "caught" being homosexual at their schools. None of the three were from well-to-do families, so being caught out and "sent down" (i.e., expelled from school for cause) should have been the end of them, one way or the other. It was not so because of the timely intervention of a well-to-do man in his 30's, who took them under his protection and brought them to his home as his wards, for reasons he did NOT immediately make clear to them. The remainder of the book because a matter of the boys sorting out their protector's motives and their implications to the boys themselves. Thus, at the outset of the book, the author introduced an ominous tone that only increased as the story progressed. Strewn throughout the story, there are enough clues to the protector's motives such that the climax didn't really surprise me very much. I'm happy to give this novel four stars and the author a pat on the back, though I like her novel "Standish" better. If you like the genre and this author's writing, this book is worth your time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fabulous book, but overall a dissapointment for me 9 April 2011
By Sirius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
REVIEW MAY CONTAIN ONE SPOILER WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MYSTERY RESOLUTION AND WHICH IS IN THE BLURB ANYWAY

I preordered this book in paperback. That alone should give you an idea how impatient I was to read it. See, I do not preorder the books in paperback these days. I preorder ONE writer in hardcover, and he does not write in this genre. Otherwise, I always read the book on Kindle first, even if it is from my favorite writer and if it is something I love, yes I may buy a paperback, but only if I want to keep it very very much. Do I regret ordering this one in paperback? A lot. Let me explain why.

First and foremost, my regret is my personal, very very subjective reaction. Erastes is IMO extremely talented author and as you can see I am giving this book four stars, because I feel that many many readers may love this book and deservingly so. But I feel my reaction also has merits and for readers who may share my tastes, I want to let them know.

The language in this book is so very beatiful. Norfolk of another time truly comes alive and it definitely transported me to another era. Had this book been a historical travel guide, I would have given it ten stars.

Unfortunately for this book, as much as I like being transported to another era, characters are something which I want to like as much (actually much more) than the settings and here I hit a wall, big time.

It is not that the characters are two dimensional, not at all, I can *see* that they are fabulously drawn and multidimensional, what I could not do is *feel* for them. Book absolutely failed to engage my emotions to relate, to sympathize with ANY of the three boys and this is a really hard thing to do, I will tell you. Especially considering the fact that all three of them are orphans and had very hard life. It is not a spoiler, blurb tells us that they are orphans. I am just saying that usually such fact alone is often enough for me to feel for the character.

When I was reading this book, I was so frustrated at times as much as I was admiring the beauty of the language, it is as if there was a wall between my emotions and the characters. At some point in time Crispin (the narrator) is in "bitter tears" because he is mourning something of his past. One would think my sympathy for him would have awoken at that time? Nope, all I could think of was, whatever.
Neither could I like two other boys - Myles and Jude.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Predictable 3 Mar 2013
By JTeuy13 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
It starts out rather interesting and even thought it seems the writer is trying to hand us little puzzle surprises there is no realy mystery to the book. I don't recommend anyone starting it. I skimmed to the end afterwhile and I was sure I didn't miss anything significant.
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