Title: Alike as Two Bees
Author: Elin Gregory
Length: 19,664 words
Publisher: Etopia Press
Genre: m/m historical romance
Horses, love, and the tang of thyme and honey…
In Classical Greece, apprentice sculptor Philon has chosen the ideal horse to model for his masterpiece. Sadly, the rider falls well short of the ideal of beauty, but scarred and tattered Hilarion, with his brilliant, imperfect smile, draws Philon in a way that mere perfection cannot.
After years of living among the free and easy tribes of the north, Hillarion has no patience with Athenian formality. He knows what he wants—and what he wants is Philon. Society, friends and family threaten their growing relationship, but perhaps a scarred soldier and a lover of beauty are more alike than they appear.
This superb historical story follows apprentice sculptor, Philon. He’s working on a frieze which is to be placed in the home of a rich Athenian. In order to get the horses right, he observes a group of men who ride on the beach near to him. One of the group is the spoiled son of the man who they Philon is working for, whose superior attitude annoys Philon, and another among that group is Hilarion, a scarred man who catches Philon’s eye.
I love a historical with an eye for incidental detail and this story has it in spades. I can’t say that I know much about ancient Greece, but this book manages to combine a thorough setting, showing the structure and hierarchy of the sculptors and their work, the expectations and courtships of a relationship between an older and younger man, and the difference between those with money and those who work, alongside a sweet and touching romance which blossoms between Philon and Hilarion. It was all rather fascinating.
Another part that worked for me was in the friendship that Philon shares with fellow apprentice, Anatolios. They share a brotherly relationship as work-fellows and friends and I found their platonic relationship delightful. The theme of family is strong as Philon’s boss, Nikias, is more like a father to Philon and Anatolios, than a supervisor. Some of my favourite parts of the book were when these men showed a strong regard for each other through their words and actions.
The romance between Philon and Hilarion is only a small part of the story but I enjoyed seeing Philon acting all gooey over Hilarion’s attentions. Philon is surprised and pleased by the attention of a man, who outwardly looks shabby, but has a strong moral sense and calm demeanor. The scene where they come together made me smile in the way that Hilarion is trying to do the right thing, but Philon’s gentle curiosity and openness breaks his resolve. It was a lovely scene which showed us Philon’s delight, without being too explicit and it fit perfectly with the tone of the story.
Overall, I was fully immersed in the ancient Greek way of life and in the relationships between these characters. I highly recommend this story to those readers looking for a beautifully written romance with a vivid setting.