LAVENDER ROSE by Theo Fenraven
Own / Kindle
“Precipitated by an unexpected encounter with another man, Malcolm Hale flees a marriage that no longer fits and a soul-sucking job he hates. When his car breaks down near Naples, Florida, he stumbles onto the grounds of the luxury gay resort, Lavender Rose, asking for help. The concierge, Tristan Bellers, takes one look at him and offers him a job. With bridges burned behind him and nothing to look forward to, Mal accepts and becomes immersed in a seductive, private world of beautiful men and tantalizing sexuality. But even as Mal tries to work out where he belongs, and with whom, a hurricane approaches, threatening destruction… and death. A killer has been waiting for an opportunity, and the time to strike has arrived.”
I’ve said it before and you’ll just have to bear with me while I say it again; Theo Fenraven weaves magic with his words. I wish I knew how he does it; how he manages to convey so much with so few, carefully chosen and beautifully positioned words. The pacing in this book is just about perfect. The reader learns everything they need to know about the characters and the resort if and when it becomes relevant. No huge chunks of back story ruin the reading rhythm in this book and I didn’t encounter a single instance of ‘where the hell did that come from’ either.
Both Tristan and Malcolm piqued my interest from the moment they were introduced. And then they grew. Neither is exactly what he appears to be at first glance and both of them show their deeper layers as the story progresses. Tristan may initially come across as camp and over the top, but he soon reveals himself to be a sensitive and very perceptive individual. And I loved how Malcolm seemed to grow into himself as the story progressed, surprising himself once or twice as he finally embraces his true nature and follows his desires. For that I can even forgive him his hate of black licorice.
On a side-note, the various references to Voodoo Lily throughout the story made me smile. It could have been cheesy or self-indulgent but somehow seemed to fit, especially given the resort’s name.
'Lavender Rose' contained one paragraph that made me stop, blink and sigh. I read it, read it again and knew I had to highlight it and put it in my review because the image it created just blew me away.
“Heaving a mental sigh, he again wondered when he would meet someone he could give his heart to forever. While he’d loaned it out plenty, he’d always gotten it back, sometimes much faster that he preferred and in worse shape than when it had gone out.”
‘Lavender Rose’ has it all; a beautiful love story, engaging characters and a thrilling threat in the background. This is a relatively short yet perfectly formed and ultimately very satisfying story.
It is almost exactly six months since I first read a book by Theo Fenraven. ‘Blue River’ gave me a wonderful introduction to his writing and made me hungry for more. When I read ‘Transgression’ shortly afterwards I knew I had stumbled across one of those rarities; an author who can transport me to whatever world they feel like and make me at home there. ‘Wolf Bound’ confirmed that versatility and 'Lavender Rose' proves once and for all that a good author can write across genres without losing any of their voice or storytelling qualities. I count myself lucky there are still several books I haven’t read. And while I’m tempted to just devour all of those back to back I’ve decided to pace myself. I guess I’m going to keep those remaining stories for times when I need a very special reading treat. I have absolutely no doubt they will prove to be exactly that.