Author: Angela Plowman
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Buy Link: Buy The Highwayman Here!
Rating: You Need To Read
Reviewed By: Erin
Romance and adventure are things Ben only dreams of until they come knocking on the door of his father’s inn the night a handsome and dominant rogue appears.
And even though Ben’s secret midnight visitor has danger trailing his shiny leather boot heels, the dangerous man finds Ben’s innocence more than he can resist. Instead of inviting a sexy older man into his bed, Ben may have invited more trouble than he can imagine.
While the wild dark moor surrounding them holds many secrets, tonight the biggest mystery of all is whether either of them will survive to see the dawn.
Almost everyone remembers the repetitious cadence and the lilting gallop of Alfred Noyes’ famous poem “The Highwayman,” a poem extolling the darkly handsome thief who went “riding, riding, riding” to his lover in the moonlight, “up to the old inn door.” Written in 1906, it tells of a fictitious 18th-century highwayman who stole from the rich–never from the poor–and became enamored with “the landlord’s black-eyed daughter.”
In Angela Plowman’s version, the highwayman is in love–but with the landlord’s black-eyed son. The story begins, as the best of suspense tales do, with the end, as the young boy is trussed by Redcoats, a firearm rigged to kill him if he warns his lover of their presence.
What a great hook! From that dramatic scene, the novel is a flashback to how the lovers –a nineteen year old slender, almost pretty youth and an older handsome and sensuous Frenchman–became acquainted and how they became lovers. The novel parallels enough of the ballad-like poem that the reader fears the ending will be a sorrowful one, for in the original the black-eyed Bess shoots herself so that the shotgun-blast will serve as a warning to her lover.
In this book, the love between the lad Ben and the highwayman Richard is at times tangible in its directness and sometimes even tenderness. I like the way Plowman parallels the poem just enough to keep the mood and setting uppermost. I also like most of the love scenes, as the boy becomes so enamored of the older man that he willingly gives himself in every way.
I also like the way the story is told through the eyes of the boy–fresh, love-struck, and naive–and the way he sees his lover’s humor and masculinity.
The love scenes are no-holds-barred. The men are unashamed in their lust, and the author leaves nothing to the imagination. Each love-making seems more lusty and titillating than the last. In spite of the impossible sexual positions and improbable physical abilities of the lovers, I still enjoyed the love scenes very much.
Alas, the book has one major flaw. For me, the language itself, when it was not evocative of Noyes’ famous cadences and even phrases, was very awkward. I gave up counting the use of passive voice, especially when the sexual language should have been at its most direct and palpable. I have lifted these phrases (and there are many more) from various parts of the narrative and string them together here to give an idea: Expressive dark brows were raised. The tears were kissed from his face. Then both cheeks were spread. His hips were grasped … hard. In times like these, the reader longs for the directness of active voice: “He raised his dark brows and kissed the tears from his lover’s face. He spread both his cheeks and grasped his hips, hard.” You get the idea.
There are also several lapses in spelling, grammar and diction that I feel could have been eradicated before the manuscript reached publication.
In all, I liked and enjoyed The Highwayman. The author has done a commendable job of imitating the tone of the famous poem. Her depiction of the characters is fresh and charming, the pace is brisk, and the ending is romantic and satisfying. One more close editing of this novel and a change to active voice would have raised my rating another notch, and I give it a 4 out of 5.