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REVIEW: His Wildflower, by L. Grey S.

His WildFlower - L Grey S

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Dystopian

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

What is destiny? Do we have the power to change the course of our lives, or are we forever bound by fates formulated by the algorithm of being?

And coincidences – are they merely fluke occurrences or are they the results of a planned chain reaction?

That is the story of a man who has run away from his past, and another who is running from himself. Pursued by their own demons, the unlikely pair collide fiercely with judgements and misunderstandings. From enemies to lovers, the pair journey on a path to discover truths that they have been denied. But are they ready to face them?

Who is the hero and who is the villain in their story?

And what is their destiny…?

‘There’s ugliness in beauty, but there’s also beauty in ugliness’

‘We may be monsters, but we are each other’s monsters’

The Review

I want to start with a reminder that my star rating is not a condemnation. I recommend this book and genuinely enjoyed it. The author has a vivid imagination and knows how to build a storyline to draw the reader in and keep them hooked.

Set in a dystopian earth that seems based on the collapse of the UK, L Grey S’s “His Wildflower” envisions a messy, complicated world that (sadly) is simply a darker and more violent reflection of our actual world today. All that is bad in our society has become the norm, and an unnamed land-mass has been colonized and demarcated with the same class/wealth/racial hierarchy that is the bane of our world now. Sigh. Looking at the author’s notes, they have been inspired by a genre of Chinese romance/adventure, which surely comes through—and offers the only consolation in this dark place, in that Anglos and Asians seem to all be happy together. Except, of course, for the corruption and violence. Rich people have beautiful estates and glamorous high-rise apartments; middle class people struggle in crowded areas; and the poor and racially oppressed just try to survive. 

The two central characters, whose connection to each other is a major plot driver, are Marcus Liu and Ares Blackwood. Marcus is mysteriously rescued from a bad situation by Kuro (Japanese for Dark), the softspoken AI being who basically manages the realm in which Marcus finds himself. His task is to be a Gatekeeper, the personal guardian of the aristocratic remnants of the UK nobility. Specifically, he is to focus on protecting the problem son of the powerful Blackwood family—Ares. Named for the Greek god of war and courage, Ares is a good man and a loving son, but beset with emotional and psychological damage that leads him to bouts of violence. Marcus, too, is inclined to violence, but he attributes that to his horrific childhood and the criminal gang which formed his only family after he was orphaned. 

As you can see from this, it’s a complicated, twisted plot; often confusing, but always clearly narrated and (thankfully) linear. 

I found the story really compelling, since I seem to have fallen into reading these sci-fi stories of late. It was hard to put the book down, because I was rooting for Marcus and Ares, but also because the author’s Byzantine plotline kept me guessing and curious.  

The difficulty for me was with the author’s jittery command of language and structure. The writing, while intense and compelling, is undisciplined, veering from poetic to careless in the course of a single page. Purple prose mixes with elegant minimalism, and the tone can shift from wistful to pornographic in the blink of an electronic eye. Word choices are odd at times, sometimes simply wrong. 

In terms of plot, there are awkward “info dumps” that pile lots of confusing information onto the reader at once. At the end (the last 25%) an enormous plot twist is revealed, turning the entire story on its head—which was fascinating but disorienting. The ending was oddly abrupt and, for me, not entirely satisfying. Still, both Marcus and Ares are wonderful characters.

All said and done, “His Wildflower” (the title is a play on words only revealed at the end) is like nothing I’ve ever read, and at this point I’ve read quite a lot in this genre. It is worth the time to settle into this book and go with the author’s foibles. 

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City. 

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