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Review: The Monk’s Lair – Ellie Thomas

The Monk's Lair - Ellie Thomas

Genre: Historical, Paranormal

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

Christian Maxwell is used to being alone. A delicate and over-imaginative young man, he’s abandoned to his own devices and company in his family’s Wiltshire country home. When his aunt, concerned for his well-being, insists he accompany her to the Welsh Borders for a country house party in the autumn of 1816, Christian is resigned to being surrounded by people for the duration.

One particular guest, Sam Gillespie, is a handsome amateur scientist of a similar age to Christian who is determined to befriend him. When Sam persuades Christian to join him on an expedition to the scenic ruins of Tintern Abbey, they stumble across an isolated valley that contains a long-dead and sinister monastic force.

Their dreams are haunted by the spirit of the place, so the pair band together to find out the valley’s dark history, kindling their romance along the way. But their ghostly foe is more tenacious than they imagine. Can Christian and Sam manage to defeat the black monk and find lasting happiness?

The Review

In the 16th century, with the Dissolution of Monasteries, the Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire has fallen into ruin. It lies on the Welsh bank of the River Wye, which forms the border between Monmouthshire in Wales and Gloucestershire in England. It’s rumored to be a dark and forbidding place, where no human or animals will tread. With dark times and plague, the abbey was rented to a Holy Man, but not one who worshiped the Lord, and the area became a place of sacrifice.

In Ledbury, Colonel Maltravers is holding a get together. He believes Wye Valley has been ruined by the flood of tourists. But he is opposed by Reverend Gilpin, vicar Mr. Michaels, his wife, and many of the local women, who believe that tourists are making Wye Valley a profitable area for local trade.

Christian Maxwell has been listening to the many voices and volume of noise of the get together, and now has a headache. Mentally he withdraws from all the commotion.  Once the festivities are over, he knows that he will be able to find quiet and solitude in his room. He’s been traveling with his Aunt Amelia, who loves her nephew and doesn’t like that he lives a solitary life. But he loves the quiet and the meditation, and the peace of just being able to constantly read.  is Aunt doesn’t like how her brother, Christian’s father, treats him.  Christian is an embarrassment to the man, and his father is hostile because of Christian’s sexuality.   

But there is one person Christian can’t escape – the talkative, enthusiastic, and friendly Sam Gillespie. As they chat, Christian is quite taken with Sam, who recognizes Christian’s interest in the foundry works of Tintern, and invites him to take a boat downriver to explore. Sam even has a picnic planned for the two of them. Their time at Tintern is enjoyable until they start to explore the overgrown and creepy valley. As Sam gets ahead of Christian, he becomes frightened by a dark presence, and calls Sam back.  

As a connection grows between Sam and Christian, they become friends and spend more time together. Sam starts having eerie nightmares, and finds out more about Tintern. There is more than just the stories of the holy man and his followers, sacrifices, villagers disappearing and the Hell Fire Club. Are Christian and Sam ready to face the danger and evil that is coming?

Thomas has crafted a gothic 18th century story with all the aspects and eeriness of a dark-themed, supernatural tale. This would make a great series, with Christian and Sam investigating all types of spooky rumors, truths or legends. I loved the factual history about the Tintern Abbey that underlies the main story. 

The two main characters, Christian and Sam, are opposites, but they are a perfect fit. Their chemistry is sweet and wonderful and brings a lovely romance to the story. I also enjoyed Aunt Amelia, a strong woman who supports her nephew wholeheartedly.

I highly recommend The Monk’s Lair, an easy-to-read novella filled with twists and surprises and very likable characters. Well done.

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California. Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018. My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen. New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012. She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series. Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book!

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing. I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews. One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group. Joining her site was such an eye opener. I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.

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