Title: The Legend of the Mountain Ash
Author: Ruth Sims
Length: Short story (14 pdf pages)
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: m/m historical (20th C)
Ethan is a Doughboy wounded in the battle for Belleau Wood. Davy is a reviled British conscientious objector serving in a military hospital. Two young men drawn to each other in the midst of the horrors of the Great War. Neither has a family, for the soldier’s has all died and the CO’s has cast him off in disgust for refusing to take up arms.
The bond of love that grows between Ethan and Davy takes them to Ethan’s beautiful Appalachian hills, where they build a home and make a life. It is there they find that their love is strong enough to conquer everything, even time and death.
This beautifully written poignant story tells of US Soldier Ethan who, when he is wounded in the first world war, meets Davey, a British conscientious objector who works in the hospital. After the war, the two men move to the USA where they set up a life together.
One of the things I like about the romance stories that are published from Untreed Reads is that as well as being a love story, they also focus on other themes too. In the case of this book the love between Davey and Ethan is interwoven with other ideas such as the way that conscientious objectors were viewed in WW1; or the difficulties of living as a gay couple in the early 20th century; or of life working the land during the droughts of the 1930′s; or growing old in isolation when the world passes you by. It made the story so much more than just two men in love, and yet still managed to retain a strong romantic core to the story.
At only 14 pages you may wonder how all this was fitted into the story. It was due mainly to the sparse prose which managed to convey so much in one or two paragraphs of description and a nutshell of dialogue. There isn’t anything in the story that isn’t necessary to the plot, or to build snippets of character, or to show the love that these men feel for each other. This structure worked in the story’s favour, propelling me on through the plot but also providing lots of much needed insight into the characters.
A word of warning: This is not a conventional romance. There is a bittersweet element to the story which may not be to all readers’ tastes. There is a HEA, but, again, an unconventional one which left me smiling even if I had tears in my eyes and an ache in my throat.
Those readers who are looking for an unusual story which will stir the emotions can’t go wrong with picking up The Legend of the Mountain Ash. I enjoyed it a great deal.