Book Reviews

A Gathering Storm (A Porthkennack Novel) by Joanna Chambers at Riptide Publishing

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 18-April-2017

Book Blurb

When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother.

In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.

Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.

A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it

Book Review

“When you died, you were supposed to live on in the memories of others... Immortality and eternal life? The only sure shot at that was the memories of those you left behind - your friends and family.” ~Brian Keene, Dead Sea

Sir Edward Fitzwilliam (Ward), of 'A Gathering Storm' by Joanna Chambers, saw the spirit of his twin brother right after his death. He has been obsessed with finding a way to repeat the experience. Since his brother's apparition happened during an intense electrical storm at sea, Ward is convinced that if he can find a way to recreate similar conditions, he can see him again.

Ward introduces himself to the townspeople as a scientist and asks for people who would be willing to participate in his experiments. The people of the town aren't at all accepting. Everything about Ward puts them off: his manner of speaking, his superior attitude, and even the way he dresses. They are wary of strangers to begin with and suspicious about anything new, much less if it's potentially dangerous or deadly. When Ward finally gets someone to participate, his “subject” gets drunk one night and topples over his wagon, killing him. The villagers are convinced that his death is caused by something Ward did to him. Afterward, no one is to participate in Ward's work. By accident, he comes across Nick, a local man, in a compromising position and uses Nick's fear of discovery to blackmail him into being part of Ward's experiments. From the start, Nick makes it clear that he is not going to do this forever. They set up a schedule that satisfies both men. As Ward and Nick work together, a greater appreciation for the other grows along with the attraction they feel which finally blooms into passion.

Nick has lived in Porthkennack all of his life. His mother was a Roma and his father the son of the wealthiest family in town. Even so, he feels like an outsider. Because Nick's parents were never married and his mother is Roma, the people in town call him a bastard and a gypsy. For reasons only known to his grandfather, Nick was raised at the family estate, educated and given a job, first as a stable hand, and eventually as land steward. Even so, Nick is teased and discriminated against. Being educated only serves to broaden the gap between him and the townspeople, further exacerbating his feeling of isolation. When Nick meets Ward, he assumes Ward is like every other “proper gentleman” he's met: rude, condescending, and demanding. When Nick gets to know him better, he realizes Ward isn't like that at all and treats him as his equal.

One matter they do disagree on is Spiritualism. Nick doesn't believe in communication with the dead, while Ward desperately wants it to be real since it may present a chance to be reunited with is brother once more. When Ward begs Nick to go to a séance with him, Nick acquiesces, if only to humor Ward. During the séance, Nick becomes appalled at the obvious trickery; Ward, is so anxious to believe, he is oblivious. At one point, Nick has had enough and speaks out against it, pointing out the obvious deceptions and causing a huge disruption. Out of habit more than anything else, Ward says some damaging words and Nick is gone.

Nick is a wonderful character, with lots of personality and a strong moral fiber. He's fought adversity all of his life. He is easy to identify with and I cheered for him from the start. Ward takes more understanding and I never quite warmed up to him as much as I would have liked. However, to his credit, Ward did learn from his mistakes and tries to make amends. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and few people write it as well as Joanna. This book showcases life in the 1850s; the attitudes of the townspeople with their suspicious nature; the aristocracy, who are more concerned with saving face than loving someone for who, rather than what, they are; all of which figured into the difficulties between Ward and Nick. This is another book in the Porthkennack series that doesn't have to be read in order but all takes place in the same town. I look forward to reading each one. Thanks, Joanna, for the delightful experience.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Riptide Publishing for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 309 pages/82000 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-April-2017
Price $4.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $22.98 bundle
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