Monday, August 27, 2012

New Lives excerpt by Anel Viz

In New Lives by Anel Viz, three people trapped in dead-end situations give up nearly everything they’ve ever known hoping to find a better future:

Otis lives alone and without prospects in a dying Nevada village. He has lost hope the man who took advantage of him years ago will return and now dreams of becoming a porn star.

Jared, an abused runaway, can’t stay forever with the kindly trucker who picked him up hitchhiking. They need to find a safe place for him to live.

Larry Jordan, a closeted collector of valuable gay erotica, fears the residents of his conservative, middle-class community will soon discover his secret life. He has just one friend, whom he met only recently.

Three gay men who don’t know each other and never will, but whose stories intertwine in unusual and unexpected ways . . .

New Lives
Silver Publishing (August, 2012)
ISBN: 9781614955597 (e-book)
9781614957621 (print)


"Something eating you, Randy?" Jared asked. "You look so serious. I've never known you to be this quiet."

"Nah. Just thinking."

"What about?"

"Stuff. Thinking's a habit with me like it is for most truckers. You're not used to having someone with you all the time, and once you start thinking, you… My mind just thinks, that's all."


"Honest. Why? Something you want to talk about?"

"No, just worried about you."

"Well, don't. I'm fine."

He was thinking about Jared, and something was eating him, but he couldn't tell Jared, not till he'd figured out what he had to say and how to say it.

Jared had been riding shotgun with him for several weeks; they'd covered tens of thousands of miles together. He liked having him there, but it couldn't go on forever. A truck is no home for a teenager, even when it's the only safe place he's found to live. The kid needed friends his own age, needed to go to school, needed stability. And he could see that Jared was starting to get antsy. He couldn't bring him home to Cleveland. Some anonymous trucker he spent time on the road with was one thing, but if the kid wasn't as old as he said and was living with him or had lived with him, and then decided to press molestation charges against the cops after all, it would put both himself and the boys at risk. The kid sure didn't look eighteen, and Randy was a good judge of age. Over sixteen, yes; but eighteen?

The question was, where would he go? Ideally, they'd find a safe home for gay teens. Stupid thing was, he ran a safe home. He'd been taking in homeless boys for close to ten years. Zach, his first rescue, was in his mid-twenties now. He'd stayed on and was in charge when Randy was on the road. But having Jared live there wasn't an option because he'd had—was having—sex with him. He shouldn't have let it happen, but it had.

Finding another home would be a problem. He for sure wasn't going to find one here in Montana, and he wouldn't know where his next load would take him before he made the drop off late that evening. He hadn't been scheduled for a delivery to a major city in months, and just driving through wasn't enough time to look for one. Even if he found one, what then? If he dropped Jared off in front of the door, would he go in or just pretend to and disappear into the streets as soon as the truck was out of sight? He'd told Randy about what had happened to him at the last shelter he stayed at. It had been a disaster. He could walk him in, but that was taking a chance. What if it came out they'd been having sex together? That would land him in big trouble.

The sex was good, and he could tell that Jared liked it, too; he wasn't just putting up with it. Hell, it was Jared who came on to him. So, maybe the first time he did it so he'd be allowed to stay on. Or maybe not. Anyway, he knew now that he was welcome to stay whether or not he put out, and he still wanted it, said it didn't matter that Randy was more than old enough to be his father, pot-bellied and very ordinary looking. Jared liked him because he was a nice guy, because he was good to him, maybe the first person who'd ever been good to him, and because he felt safe with him. "And you're good in bed, too."

It wasn't a bed, really, just a mattress they slept on in the back of the cab. Was he as good a lover as the kid said he was? Randy didn't think so. Competent, but not blow-your-mind fantastic. The important thing was he'd shown Jared that sex could be comforting. It didn't have to mean hurting, physically or emotionally.

It had happened their second night together, parked in a rest area. By then Jared had admitted he was gay and how his parents had thrown him out the house because of it, information relayed as a statement of fact, neither asking for pity, nor, it seemed, afraid that Randy would freak out and beat him up. "I can get out here if that bothers you," he'd said.

"Nope, I'm fine with it."

"Yeah, you seem like a laid-back kind of guy."

It hadn't sounded like an invitation, either, so Randy didn't even consider coming on to him, not for a second. He wasn't the kind of person to force himself on someone, and the kid wouldn't welcome advances from a man in his fifties.

"It's cold," Jared said, moving close to him, too close for Randy's comfort.

"Want me to find you another sweater?"

"Nah, just put your arms around me for a bit and I'll warm up."

They lay there a while longer. Then Jared said, "I sure was lucky to get a ride from you. You know why I was so anxious to get away from those bikers? They raped me."

"You poor kid."

"It wasn't really a rape because I agreed to it, and least to doing it with one of them. I've already told you I'm gay. I like taking it up the ass. So when the rest of them wanted to join in, I didn't think I'd mind. God, was I wrong! It was fucking awful. They'd have done it again if I'd've stayed with them."

"You still hurting?"

"No, not even a little sore. It wasn't the pain so much as how they did it, like I wasn't there, just my hole. They all lined up to have a go at me. And I didn't like them slapping me on the backside. Like, sometimes it can be a turn-on, but they were hitting hard and wouldn't let up. Wasn't nearly as bad as the first time, though."

"You mean your first time?"

"No, the first time I was raped. When I got picked up for vagrancy and thrown in jail. I don't want to talk about it." He turned to face Randy and whispered in his ear. "You wouldn't fuck me like that, would you?"

"What makes you think I'd fuck you at all?"

"You're gay, aren't you? I thought so. You can always tell."

"That doesn't mean I'm interested. I like men my own age."

"I don't turn you off, do I?"

"No, you don't turn me off."

"Don't you get horny? I'm horny pretty much all the time." His hand ran down Randy's stomach and came to rest on his crotch. "I'm horny now. You are, too. I can feel it growing."

Randy held his breath and didn't answer.

Jared went on. "I want to suck your cock. I want you to fuck me. I know you have condoms. I saw them in the glove box."

"It isn't right. You're just a kid."

"I'm eighteen."

"Then your parents didn't have to keep you. You said the police brought you back after they threw you out."

"I wasn't eighteen then. I've been on my own over a year. I'm so fucking horny. Is it okay if I take off my jeans and beat off next to you?"

"Suit yourself."

"Can we beat off together?"

"All right, but that's all we do."

It wasn't all they did. Jared went down on him without being asked, and before he knew it they were deep kissing and feeling each other all over.

"Fuck me," Jared pleaded. "I want it bad."

Randy wanted it bad, too. "You're not lying to me, now, are you? You are eighteen?"

"Eighteen and three months. Be gentle. Don't start slamming hard till I say I'm ready, then give it your all."

Since then, they'd had sex almost every night, a lot more than Randy was used to but he wasn't complaining. Every man in his fifties should be so lucky! Jared always bottomed. Randy would have been happy to flip, but Jared said liked it that way. Entering him was easy; his hole was a good fit for Randy's dick and the kid knew how to relax it. He had beautifully smooth and sweet-tasting skin, and he was so loving, so willing. A nice kid. Randy would miss him, but it was time they parted ways.

* * * *

Lost in thought, Randy drove on, preoccupied with finding a solution to the problem of what to do with Jared. He felt more than a little guilty about their relationship, but his mind kept coming back to their nights together, remembering the feel of his young body under his hands and his warm hole pressing around his dick.

Jared watched uneasily, as if he had something on his mind and was waiting for an opening so he could break the silence. Randy was about to tell him to spit it out when he asked, "Would it be okay if I turned on the radio?"

"Go right ahead."

"God, this road is empty!"

"You're telling me, kid? Nothing but sky in the whole eastern half of this state."

They were headed west on Highway 200 in Montana on their way to Great Falls with about another 175 miles to go, nothing in any direction but miles of empty grazing land and the barbed-wire fences that ran along on either side of the road. The towns were at least thirty miles apart, and there wasn't much more to them than a gas station. Randy had driven that route often, and he called it the Roadkill Highway. You hardly ever passed another vehicle, but when you did chances were the driver would be careening down it like a maniac, sometimes at ninety, a hundred miles an hour or more. He wasn't sure how often someone came by to pick up. Not many sections of the highway had been "adopted". For all that, there wasn't much litter—every car that drove by could toss something out the window and by the end of a month there still wouldn't be enough to make a noticeable difference—but there were lots of animal carcasses: squashed skunks, raccoons, jackrabbits, woodchuck, even foxes. The animals that lived here didn't have much opportunity to learn about traffic.

"What's that?" he asked Jared. "Looks like a truck stopped up ahead. We better see if he needs help. He could wait here for hours before anyone came by."

He slowed down and pulled up behind the pick-up. The hood was up, and a cowboy was sitting on the roof looking forlorn. That is, a cowboy or somebody dressed like one.

"What seems to be the problem?"

"Don' ask me. I dunno shit about trucks. All I kin tell ya is that I ain't run outta gas."

"Let me have a look at 'er. Maybe I can find the problem. And if I can't spot it, then I have my trucker's best friend to help. Get the book for me, will you, Jared?"

"Where is it?"

"Back of the cab, shoved behind that box with your papers and… well, you know what. Behind the box."

The man had climbed down from the roof to peer under the hood with him.

Randy didn't need the book; all he had to do was glance at the motor. "I'm afraid I can't help you, friend. You'll need parts. Probably have to order them, too. Want me to drive you to the next town so you can get a tow?"

"Got a tow truck at the ranch. Parts too. But ya don' hafta go outta yer way. I'll call from the gas station and someone'll come pick me up."

"Your ranch far?"

"'Nother ten miles down the road way yer headed, then twenty more on a dirt road off to the right."

"I'd drive you there, but then we won't make Great Falls tonight. It don't much matter, because I'm ahead of schedule, but we'll need a place to stay."

"Oh, we kin putcha up. We're a little short handed right now. Plenny o' extra beds."

"Then hop in and we'll take you there. I'll phone from the ranch to let them know I'll be half a day later'n I said."

"That's mighty kind o' ya," the man said, putting down the hood.

"You're not going to lock up?"

"What fer? 'Coons can't open doors, least not this kinda door."

The man was well built—tall, slim, strong looking, his movements easy. His plaid shirt, its sleeves rolled up to the elbows and three buttons open at the collar, showed powerful wrists and a few tufts of light brown hair on an otherwise smooth, broad chest, and his jeans hugged his hips and molded to his thighs. Pointed cowboy boots on average-sized feet. Nice voice, with a bit of a nasal drawl. Except for the square jaw and friendly smile, they hadn't had a good look at his clean-shaven face because he wore his cowboy hat pulled down over his forehead.

Jared slid over closer to Randy to make room for the newcomer.

"Sher am obliged to you two," he said, and held out his hand to shake. "Jack Lingham."



"Mind if I roll down the winder?"

"Go right ahead."

Lingham propped his forearm on the open window, elbow hanging out, took off his hat and leaned back, enjoying the wind blowing over his face and through his thick, wavy, light brown hair. "Shore was gittin' hot settin' out there in the sun." Jared reached behind the seat and handed him a soft drink from the cooler. "Thank ya kindly," he said and took a long swig.

From the corner of his eye, Randy could see Jared sizing up their passenger. Now that they could see all his features, it was apparent what a strikingly handsome man he was, a man who looked the way Hollywood wished cowboys looked. He wore his hair just long enough to hang over the tips of his ears, deeply channeled between the sharp ridging and lobes detached from his narrow, oval head. The height and prominence of his cheekbones, thin, straight nose and wide-set, dark chocolate eyes hinted at a good dose of Native American blood in him, despite his hair and light complexion. Jared was just about drooling, but the cowboy took no notice.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly 1 excerpt by Jon Michaelsen

In Jon Michaelsen's False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly, obsession and lust can lead to murder.

What begins as a cursory glance at the high-rise apartment opposite soon becomes something much darker and far more dangerous.

For bored accountant, Kevin Mitchell, lusting after gorgeous, muscular, Tony, in the adjacent building, builds into a life changing obsession.

When Tony shows up at Kevin’s apartment, bloody and bruised, Kevin offers him instant refuge…and a place in his bed. However, all is not what it seems and the police draw a different conclusion in their hunt for a violent killer.

Will Kevin’s plea of false evidence save him from the horror of a life behind bars?

False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly 1
Publisher: loveyoudivine Alterotica (May 16, 2012)
ASIN: B00845KX7I


Seized by the moment, Kevin thrust his laptop aside and rushed to get the binoculars. In his bedroom, he peered through the slats of the mini-blinds and watched as the stranger moved away from the window, only to emerge moments later onto his rooftop terrace with a towel in hand. The guy glanced up at the sky as though measuring the sun’s intensity or the right angle to position his body to catch the best rays. After spreading the towel across a chaise lounge, he set a bottle of tanning oil atop a short table next to the chair. Reaching over his head with one hand, he tugged the shirt off with a quick jerk before tossing it onto an adjoining chair. Both thumbs hooked beneath his waistband of his shorts, and he slid them down over muscular thighs, revealing little more than a patch of baby-blue cloth concealing his manhood. He sat with his back turned to Kevin, and removed each leg from the garment like he had all the time in the world.

Kevin’s heart pounded in his chest and his mouth went dry. The man in the scopes pivoted his frame and straddled the chaise. The binoculars revealed every ridge and cord of muscle as the stud began lathering his body, from the tops of his wide, football-player shoulders, to his lightly feathered chest, and further down to a washboard stomach few young men managed these days. Each twist and turn, indeed, every movement, revealed sculpted lines and curves that caused Kevin’s breath to catch.

The guy poured oil on his hands and began covering his lower legs, working up to his calves and thighs with precision. Kevin licked his lips and tried to swallow without blinking. He watched the guy’s big hands slip inside smooth thighs and up to his crotch, one of his hands darting beneath the Lycra fabric for a quick adjustment.

Kevin’s cock strained beneath his shorts, begging for release.

Are you insane?

He didn’t avert his eyes, regardless how much he chastised himself. Had his life become so lonely and desperate he’d reduced himself to spying on unsuspecting, male sunbathers?

Whatever the case, Kevin couldn’t seem to pull himself away from the window. The feeling he sensed was akin to asking a child to hand over chocolate ice-cream, or an aging siren to forego another round of Botox. He remained fascinated with his idol who leaned back against the chaise to apply oil to his face and neck, across his wide chest, and finally, to his abdomen.

For the next couple hours, Kevin stared through the blinds, his arms growing tired and weak. He strained to keep the lenses steady and his view unobstructed as he watched beads of sweat build on the man’s chest in the valley of muscle and across his abs. Kevin took a break when his subject took time out of the sun. He lunched when the stranger grabbed a bite to eat. Only when the guy left the terrace for the day did Kevin finally relax his shoulders, hoping, praying the stud would reappear naked in the bedroom.

He didn’t have to wait long. Some minutes later, the object of his affection entered his bedroom wearing a white towel riding low across his waist. Kevin focused the scopes, willing his arms to fight against the strain in order to make out the thick oblique muscles that framed his perfect “V” shape above the cloth.

Oh, what I wouldn’t give.

For another excerpt from False Evidence, see June 4, 2012.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Dante's Circle excerpt by Dorien Grey

In Dante's Circle, Dorien Grey's fourth Elliott Smith and John Mystery, Dante Benevetti is the darling of the music world...and why not? He's handsome, talented-and arrogant as only a man convinced of his own brilliance can be. As far as he's concerned, the rest of the world exists for his benefit. So, when he hears Dante is dead, a victim of murder, Elliott isn't really surprised. Nor is he surprised when Dante comes for a post-mortem visit, demanding Elliott find out who killed him. Was it the well-known lyricist who was the only one in the house at the time? The talented young musician whose work Dante plagiarized? Or some unknown the great pianist had mortally offended?

Dante's Circle
Zumaya Boundless (July 27, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1612710654
ISBN-13: 978-1612710655


"Elliott, I'd like you to meet Dante Benevetti. Dante, this is Elliott Smith and his partner…"

"Steve Gutierrez," Steve said, extending his hand.

The man making the introductions was Travis Green, and the occasion was a fundraiser for Above Ground, a newly formed theater company devoted to producing the works of gay and lesbian playwrights. Green was the host of the gathering, held on the expansive lawn behind his Lake Forest home. Food tables and two portable bars flanked the pool, underwater lights casting shimmering blue-green reflections on the tablecloths and canopies.

Elliott in turn shook hands with the thirty-six-year-old concert pianist, noting the man was even better-looking in person than in his photos.

"Ah, yes, Travis mentioned you earlier," Benevetti said with a warm smile and addressing Elliott. "I understand you have lots of money,"

"What makes you think that?"

"You wouldn't be here if you didn't." He gave a very quick glance at Steve, which for some reason made Elliott bristle. However, since Benevetti was still smiling, he dismissed it, but did not forget it.

"I hope you brought your checkbook," Benevetti continued. "We need every penny we can get for Above Ground. Theaters aren't cheap, you know."

"I've convinced Dante to play for us a bit later," Green said. It was obvious to Elliott the "convincing" had not been a spur-of-the-moment thing, since a grand piano stood on a raised platform at the far end of the red-brick patio.

After a minute or two, Green looked across the pool and, touching Benevetti lightly on the arm, said, "Ah, there's Marge and Natalie. They're dying to meet you." He turned to Elliott and Steve. "You will excuse us, won't you?"

Without waiting for a reply, he began wending his way through the crowd toward the two women. Benevetti glanced from Green to Elliott to Steve, raised an eyebrow, shrugged, smiled, and followed Green.

"There oughta be a law," Steve said.


"Against anybody being so gorgeous and talented."

Elliott grinned. "So, what are you—chopped liver?"

"Yeah, well, you're prejudiced…for which I'm duly grateful."

They exchanged small talk with a number of people Elliott knew, and most of those he didn't know personally he recognized as being the gay community's equivalent of the Four Hundred—bankers, lawyers, high-tier business executives, people from the arts. Steve recognized the owner of one of Chicago's top art galleries.

Elliott sincerely hoped Steve didn't feel out of place, and immediately cursed himself for even having such a thought. Steve fit in everywhere. It was he who felt slightly out of place, not because he didn't have as much money—or more—than most of the people there but that he didn't feel comfortable in large groups of people among whom wealth was the only common denominator.

About twenty minutes later, Green began circulating among the crowd, urging them toward the piano. He then mounted the platform with a small hand-mic, thanked everyone for coming, and launched into a speech about the new theater group and its intention to have its own venue, which required the financial backing and continued support of those at the fundraiser.

Finishing his call for support, he motioned Benevetti to the platform to enthusiastic applause and handed the microphone to him for a few words in support of the project. Elliott was immediately reminded of Henry Higgins's line from My Fair Lady: "Oozing charm from every pore/he oiled his way across the floor."

Handing the mic back to Travis Green, Benevetti then moved to the piano and took his seat. The yard lights dimmed and, in the circle of one small spotlight, he began to play Claire de Lune. By a clever combination of planning and luck, there was a full moon, and the effect was duly impressive.

The lights came back up as Benevetti stood to take his bow; then he sat back down to play Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody Number 2."

"Wow!" Steve whispered as Benevetti stood and bowed again to effusive applause.

The pianist started to leave the platform but, in response to the prolonged applause, returned to the bench and played Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude." When he finally left the stage, he was immediately surrounded by adoring fans.

After a few moments, Travis Green again took the stage for another pep talk about the need for everyone's support and announced that pledge envelopes were available on all the food and drink tables.

The party began to break up shortly thereafter, and as they passed one of the tables on their way out, Elliott took one of the envelopes and slipped in the check he'd made out earlier. Then, they joined the line of people waiting to thank and congratulate both Benevetti and Green on the success of the event. Elliott noticed yet another tray table for donation envelopes set up beside Green.

As Elliott and Benevetti were shaking hands, Benevetti said, "I understand you do home renovation. Do you have a card?"

Taken somewhat by surprise, Elliott quickly extracted a card from his inside coat pocket and handed it to the pianist.

"I'll give you a call," Benevetti said as Elliott and Steve moved on.

"Your fame has preceded you," Steve said with a grin as they walked toward Elliott's car.

"Apparently so." Elliott returned the grin. "Though I have no idea why he'd want my card…or how he even heard about me. Interesting."


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Monday, August 6, 2012

A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes introduction by Joseph R G DeMarco

What other characters from English literature have captivated hearts and minds as thoroughly as Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion John Watson? Many fans imagine the relationship between these men is deep and more than platonic. In A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes edited by Joseph R G DeMarco, the Holmes universe is queered and authors have devised stories in which Holmes and Watson are lovers, or investigate mysteries of inverts hidden from the laws and cultures of the Victorian era; even the indomitable Lestrade has his turn at love; and eerie apparitions in the night sky, reminiscent of Jules Verne, draw Holmes to Cleveland Street, home to an infamous scandal.

A Study in Lavender
Lethe Press (June 6, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1590210387


Is Sherlock Holmes homosexual? Is Watson? Should we even be asking these questions?

Casual readers have wondered. So have scholars. Graham Robb, in his engaging and informative study of gay history, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century, does not fail to consider the queerness of the Great Detective. Robb seems to believe that anyone thinking Holmes and Watson are not lovers is obtuse if not daft.

Ever since the Great Detective made his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, fans have been speculating about Holmes and his life. His popularity with the general public grew with the publication of stories in The Strand starting in 1891 and it was that series of stories that really got the guessing game going. Pastiches and parodies began to appear and the world of Holmes expanded beyond Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings. In a way, the stories lent themselves to speculation through the trail of clues Doyle embedded in them. A trail that a discerning, well-informed reader could immediately follow. The material is clearly there in the Holmes canon, if a reader looks carefully enough.

Someone with knowledge of nineteenth-century British history will catch references others might miss. A more detailed knowledge of the sexual habits and scandals of that era will allow a reader to find even more clues woven into the text. With those facts in hand, other, less obtrusive, more seemingly innocent passages will jump out at you. Perhaps some things will even make sense for the first time. The oblique nature of some of the references almost forces a reader

To think that Doyle had either placed these hints so that only those in the know would understand, or that he was setting out clues for inveterate readers to collect and decipher.

For example, in Victorian London, the Embankment was a notorious homosexual cruising area near the Thames. In “Five Orange Pips,” one of Holmes’s clients is killed walking on the Embankment and Holmes admits to knowledge of the area, its denizens, and how it is used, though he is never explicit and never explains how he knows of this secret cruising ground.

Other, similar casually inserted references litter the Holmes tales. In “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” his adopting a young “telegraph boy” to help him certainly recalls the Cleveland Street scandals. A brothel located in Cleveland Street, which served aristocratic men and in which boys who worked as telegraph messengers were also prostitutes, came to the attention of the police. The ensuing scandal threatened to out many of England’s aristocrats, including, it is said, Prince Albert Victor, son of the Prince of Wales and second in line to the throne. Needless to say, the scandal was covered up, the aristocrats receiving no penalty, the boys getting off with light sentences (the world never changes).

But the fact that Doyle places a telegraph boy in the service of Holmes, and depicts their relationship as a very strong bond, serves as more than just a stray reference from the times.

Holmes and Watson also have a relationship that Doyle does little to disguise. They not only share rooms on Baker Street, they find their lives intertwined in such a way that one cannot function perfectly without the other. Even when Watson marries (twice and both times without children), he continues visiting and staying with Holmes. Though his second wife is a bit more possessive of his time, he manages weekend visits with Holmes until she’s out of the picture and he is “single” once again. Holmes and Watson often exchange intimate looks and words, or profess the depth of their feelings or need for each other. There are other clues. In “The Final Problem,” Holmes, after a particularly nasty incident, asks Watson to go with him to “the continent” where they can avoid certain matters. As anyone familiar with the era knows, the rich and the lucky were able to evade prosecution in England for the crime of homosexuality by fleeing to the continent. After certain arrests, waves of aristocrats and others were found, by whatever means they could secure, leaving England for Italy or France. That’s quite a large clue which Doyle hides in plain sight.

Of course, there are the obvious things about Holmes: he never marries or shows interest in the opposite sex and he and Watson live together in close quarters. But read more carefully and you find that the regard which Holmes and Watson have for each other goes beyond mere friendship. A good example is in “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs.”

Watson is wounded by a miscreant and Holmes is aghast. He rushes to Watson’s side and begs him to say he is not wounded. Then the narrative continues in Watson’s words:

It was worth a wound – it was worth many          wounds – to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.

“It’s nothing, Holmes. It’s a mere scratch.”

He had ripped up my trousers with his pocket-knife.

“You are right,” he cried with an immense sigh of relief. “It is quite superficial.” His face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face. “By the Lord, it is as well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive. Now, sir, what have you to say for yourself?”

This is no mere friendship. There is love here…on both sides. True, it’s also a symbiotic relationship, with Holmes bringing adventure and Watson bringing a kind of domesticity to the pairing, but there is an undeniable love, as well. Other stories rounding out the canon contain plenty of clues, hints, and subtextual references leading to the inescapable conclusion that Holmes and Watson are more than just roommates.

Writers and fans of Sherlock Holmes have always speculated on every aspect of the Great Detective’s life. His sexual nature was no less a matter of interest than his cocaine use. And, right from the start, writers of every stripe produced parodies of Holmes and Watson. Writers such as Twain, Barrie, and Wodehouse all took their turn at getting in on the fun.

As far as anyone knows, the idea that Holmes might be gay didn’t work its way into the literature until the late twentieth century. One of the earliest books, from 1971, The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Larry Townsend), is an erotic work concentrating heavily on sex scenes, though it exhibits grounding in the Holmes canon. Motion pictures took up the pursuit of Holmes’s personal life and sexual tastes in more than a few films, such as The Seven Percent Solution (1976) and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) (which takes the view that Holmes might be straight, though at one point in the film he does “pretend” to be gay in order to escape from a woman who wants to bed him).

It is not until Sherlock Holmes (2009), with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, that the idea of Holmes and Watson being gay makes it into the mainstream consciousness. Following closely on its heels, the BBC TV production, Sherlock (2010), with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, more or less flat out says Holmes is gay. Watson, who knows?

That cat has finally left the bag. The idea that Holmes is gay is ready to take centre stage for a while. Though some might find the notion a bit much to tolerate, even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had no objections to what might be done with his most famous creation. The American stage actor William Gillette wrote a play about Holmes in the late 1890s with Doyle’s blessing. Called variously: Sherlock Holmes, then The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner, then Sherlock Holmes – A Drama in Four Acts, it was an immensely popular show though not a critically acclaimed piece of theatre.

During the writing of the play, Gillette, who’d stitched together elements from different Holmes stories, wanted to spice up his work. He cabled Doyle and asked if he could marry off Holmes in the play. Doyle responded, “You may marry him, or murder him, or do whatever you like with him.”

That seems like the definitive permission slip.

This brings us to the collection you hold in your hands. A Study in Lavender considers not only the idea that Holmes might be gay, or Watson, or others in the Holmes mythos, but also that the detective might have taken cases which involved gay or lesbian or transgendered clients and handled them with the delicacy, discretion, and intelligence he brought to every other case Watson chronicled. Most of the tales in this collection take place in the Holmesian/Victorian setting. Most feature Holmes and Watson. Some use other characters as protagonists and merely mention Holmes. Each story will introduce you to new situations and characters, to cases Watson never before even alluded to, and to a Holmesian world that is similar yet different.

We hope all of these adventures will bring a smile to your face, give you some hours of reading pleasure, or make you think about Holmes, or Watson, or even Lestrade in a new way.

A Study in Lavender is meant to entertain and to open the door on a new approach to Holmes and the world in which he lived.


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