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Review: Separate Natures – Gordon Phillips

Genre: Paranormal, Erotic

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

Garner returns from a trip home, a time-out in which to consider the offer made to him by the love of his life Alonzo, to undergo the Change and become a Vee like him. Garner has made his choice, to accept the offer, but he discovers Alonzo is missing.

Garner is staggered, realizing he doesn’t even know where Alonzo lives. He must seek him through his own abilities, being a sensitive, gifted with ESP powers. He discovers Alonzo is being held somewhere in the city, possibly by an unknown entity residing in the industrial park, which both Vees and their enemies, the Vee hunters, avoid.

Garner is thrust into a cardinal position, leading a force of Vees into this area to rescue Alonzo. He must confront that powerful entity, which calls itself the Caretaker, before he can rescue Alonzo, bringing his own resources to the test. Ingenuity, loyalty, and love challenge the status quo of power that exists hidden beneath everyday life in the city, where Vees, Vee hunters, and the Caretaker all struggle for survival. In such an environment, can love between a Vee and a Norm survive?

The Review

The word that leaps to mind (no pun intended) in reading this book is: cerebral. As I noted with the first book, “Call to Love,” Gordon Phillips’s main character, Garner Hayes, is all in his head. It is a very odd way to approach what is essentially a re-thinking (see?) of the vampire genre.

Phillips is a good writer. The restraint to his narrative, so much of which happens in Garner’s head, is something you have to get used to, but it’s effective, and it completely works for this story. There are some weird moments because of this—battles between two people that are quite literally done with the fighters’ minds, and thus not much action takes place. There is also the fact that Garner overthinks everything to a degree that is not just a neurosis, but a skill-set. It can be unsettling, but I felt that once I got settled into the author’s intention, it made sense.

At the start of the book, Garner is spacing out in his restaurant job, because his beloved Alonzo seems to have disappeared. Having offered Garner the chance of a lifetime (so to speak), Alonzo just stops communicating. This is the set up for the second book, and I confess it took me a bit to figure that out—since I read the last book a while ago and had forgotten the ending. I liked the beginning of the book, but I think I needed a little more clear signaling to remind me of how the last book ended, so I didn’t feel so lost at first.

A great deal of this book’s plot is driven by Garner’s need to get Alonzo back. That becomes a little more complicated than anyone expected, but it introduces Garner to a new community of Vees who share Garner’s wish to locate Alonzo and find out if he’s in trouble.

I love the way Phillips has rethought the archetype of the vampire, insisting that they are simply variants of human form, and not supernatural. The way Garner constantly analyses the Vee community he meets is fascinating and utterly unlike anything I’ve read in this genre before. The analysis ultimately focuses on the simple question: is this person good, or bad? That’s not as simple as it might sound.

The irony, perhaps, is that the physical moments, especially sexual ones, seem almost perfunctory. In particular, an intense relationship with a character named Albert deserves more thought (ha!) than it gets, because it was intriguing and something that could have provoked a lot of discussion about the nature of relationships. Here, and (totally against my usual wishes) I would like to see a littler more depth and description of this physicality, and how it ties to Garner’s emotional state. The emotional, cerebral side of things is really well covered, but I’d love to see some more balance with things like touch, smell, sound on the page.

Like the first book, this one ends on a “to be continued” note, but it felt less abrupt, and also leaves Garner in a surprisingly good place. There’s a next adventure/challenge coming, but the reader doesn’t feel like they were dumped. We’re ready to go along on the ride, whatever it is.

Four stars.

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.

The Paranormal Romance Guild was established in 2009 by 8 Indie Authors and one Reviewer to be a constant help for authors. You can be a free author member, submitting your work for review OR become a Premium Author Member for a small yearly fee and enjoy many extra services including Free Beta Reads, Author Giveaways and many others. Your reviews are posted on our 3 FB Sites, Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram. WE REVIEW ALL GENRES LGBTQ+ welcome.

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