Wednesday, 21 November 2018

For the Love of Luke by David C Dawson

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

David C Dawson’s latest novel, lying somewhere between a thriller and a romance, is a light treatment of a serious subject, but nonetheless relevant for that.

If you are not aware of the realities behind this story, you might be inclined to class this as a dystopia, like The Handmaid’s Tale, or even to dismiss it altogether. Unfortunately, the grim truth is that gay conversion therapy is not only practised in various places around the world, often with the encouragement of various church groups – it has been advocated by the current Vice President of the United States.

Rupert Pendley-Evans is a successful London journalist, and the son of minor aristocracy. When water from his upstairs neighbour’s bathroom comes pouring through his bedroom ceiling, he rushes upstairs only to find the young man lying naked and unconscious on the floor. Thus begins his relationship with Luke who – as he himself says – is ‘complicated’. A very talented artist, he has no memory at all of his life before about six months ago. But it is clear that he has suffered a profound trauma. Together, Rupert and Luke must unravel what happened to him and confront a threat that has stalked him from the US to London.

For the Love of Luke is more sexually explicit than Dawson’s previous novels. However, the sex scenes are imbued with a tenderness that lifts them above the merely pornographic.

The fact that this is also a mixed-race relationship is less convincingly handled, though it barely impinges on the story. On the other hand, I enjoyed the treatment of Rupert’s parents, which added some comic relief and subverted expectations. And Dawson’s knowledge of the workings of the BBC lends credence to the newsroom scenes.

As a story of American-meets-Englishman-meets-British-aristocracy, this is reminiscent of Armistead Maupin’s Babycakes. But more than 40 years after Michael Tolliver first appeared in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, the thought that gay conversion therapy could still cast a shadow over Anna Madrigal’s ‘logical family’ should horrify us all.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Babycakes by Armistead Maupin, The Deadly Lies by David C Dawson

Avoid If You Dislike: Explicit gay sex scenes

Perfect Accompaniment: Game pie and a glass of Syrah

Genre: LGBTQ, Thriller, Romance

Available on Amazon

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