Title: The Witching Hour
Author: Sophia Beamont
Length: 7,300 words
Genre: m/m Historical Paranormal Romance
Blurb: Doctor Jacob Tavers is a young, respected man in a picturesque Puritan village–who has a string of dark secrets. Jacob has been keeping his true nature under wraps for most of his life. Taught herb lore by his mother and medicine by his father, Jacob walks a fine line–one that threatens to snap when a neighbor accuses him of witchcraft.
To make matters even worse, the Inquisitor is Marcus Swan, whose deep blue eyes and fine legs are making it incredibly difficult for Jacob to hide his other secret: a deep attraction to the man who has been sent, in all likelihood, to kill him.S
Review: I believe that this is the first I have read by Ms. Beaumont, and it was a short, cute story. The setting is near Salem and in the time directly after the witch trials of Salem, directly in the wake of the lingering hysteria of the time. People are quick to accuse others of witchcraft based on any number of shaky facts (curdled milk, scars) and for any reason, whether earnest belief or thinly veiled revenge for other slights.
Both of these are the case for Jacob, the town’s only doctor and a man who has lost all of his family. His mother came from Wales and passed down her homeland’s herb lore within the family, something in which Jacob frequently uses along with the scientific medical knowledge he learned from his father. He’s used these to great avail — he singlehandedly saved most of the town from death in the previous year’s outbreak. But, he also sees ghosts and has an ability himself, which along with his familial knowledge he uses to cast protections on the town, his family and friends.
But he does have enemies. Hiding his homosexual nature is difficult when fathers are urging their daughters to gain his hand, and his solitary, unwed nature leads many to consider the rumors of his past relationship with another man in town, his best friend who he lost to the past year’s outbreak. All come to the notice of a man traveling through town on his way back from Salem, Inquisitor Marcus Swan. Jacob finds him beautiful and enthralling despite the danger he poses, but the message his dead sister brings to him from his mother beyond the grave suggests that the fate of the two men are intertwined.
For a storyline such as this, which had a healthy amount of detail and world-building, the story is pretty short. I didn’t feel the overwhelming crush of a story with too much plot smashed into a really short word count, but I did feel as if there could have been a little more time for the two men to get to know each other. I probably would have been happier had this ended without a firm promise of a relationship, simply because it would have been more real to life. But then, the story does take shortcuts. Obviously, you can’t expect here for the story to be historically accurate. So, some suspension of disbelief is required, though how much is up to you.
Otherwise, the story was quite cute. There are no explicit scenes — there is one that fades to black. I had a bit of a problem with this because it happens at the time of the climax of the story and I never really understood what happened, paranormal-wise because so little was explained. Of course, the main focus of the story is on the relationship, rather than the paranormal world, but I explained above why some of that didn’t work for me.
Considering the story on the level of my own enjoyment though — I liked it. The lighter side of the story is presented, instead of something that seems as if it would be inherently dark. It is a nice little read for Halloween and something I’d recommend if you’re looking for short and sweet.