Sunday, September 24, 2017
Book Review: 'Lust in the Caribbean' by Noah Harris
New York author Noah Harris is dedicated to giving something back to the universe, sharing generously in his successes and inspiring and motivating others through his writing and in any other way he can. He believes in living a natural, healthy lifestyle and has embraced meditation as a way of clearing the ‘noise’ in his head and allowing his dark creativity to shine through in his books. Though somewhat shy he is a humanitarian who sees the world in which we live as a community bonded in a natural approach to our feelings and ourselves and our interaction with others. His bisexual nature allows him to create well rounded characters – most all of his novels are M/M romances but they are much more than the usual erotica we encounter in film, television, and social media. John explores the boundaries of types and wields a strong brush as he paints his fascinating people.
Now Noah steps into new territory – historic fiction – and his writing skills are already polished in this arena. He continues to explore the interstices of M/M relationships, offering more psychological insight into relationships in general than most other authors no matter their genre. His prose and character development grow with each book and he understands that valuable asset of introducing the reader in a comfortable manner to the personalities of his characters.
A taste of his ease with writing historic novels is apparent in the first paragraphs when a gay man is being punished ‘The whip lashed down on the sailor tied to the mainmast, forcing a grunt from deep within his gut. The man was barely conscious, his chin resting on his arm. His arms were tied together around the thick mast as if he were pulling it into an embrace. He was stripped to the waist, sweat pouring from his body from the strain, the fear, and the scorching summer sun beating down on the deck of the merchant ship Virtue. Blood dripped from his back in a steady patter like rain. The whip came down again, and this time the man didn’t grunt but let out a little cough. Thomas Treadwell, sailor, knew that the man would be dead soon. His face had gone pale and he had long since stopped struggling. The first mate, who had been performing the whipping, had grown tired and had switched arms so he could continue to give the sailor more lashes. The burly and brutish second-in-command of the Virtue looked almost as exhausted as the man he was slowly killing, but he persisted. Captain Temperance Stone stood nearby with a placid look on his hard but handsome face. The entire crew assembled in a circle around the scene of the punishment. Some looked pale, others gleeful, while others looked as though they would be sick. But no one looked away. The captain had ordered every sailor on his ship to watch this man get whipped to death, and no one dared disobey an order from Captain Stone.’
But on to the epic – ‘On a ship traversing the dangerous seas in 1710, surrendering to the swashbuckling pirates of The Manhunter will yield the most pleasurable of outcomes. Thomas Treadwell takes to the high seas as a sailor on a merchant ship as he searches for freedom, a difficult thing to find for a man such as himself in the 18th century. While he must hide his most essential self in the daylight, his forbidden desires are allowed brief tastes of secret passion under the cover of night and with faceless partners. It’s not the freedom he’d hoped to one day find, but it was better than most realities for a catamite. Caught in the taboo act aboard the VIrtue, a pious ship captained by the sanctimonious Captain Temperance Stone, Thomas faces death for his crime of finding pleasure with a fellow sailor. But his fate changes in an instant when the Virtue is caught and boarded by the notorious Manhunter, a pirate ship purportedly manned by men just like him, men who desire men. The ship of criminal misfits offers him safe harbor as a guest, and what was always forbidden is accepted and celebrated. Celebrated heartily and with many of his newfound sailing companions. But when he stumbles upon their mysterious secret, passions and suspicions are aroused. Thomas must decide whether to join their ranks for good, making him a criminal in his own eyes – discovering the meaning of acceptance, loyalty and the rule of love over law.’
Noah’s writing continues to mature and this new novel is revelatory in the manner in which he involves suspense with attraction. Another fine novel from Noah Harris – and we know there are more on the way! Grady Harp, August 17
SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.