Author: Keira Andrews
Length: 15,400 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m historical romance
Jack Cavendish needs to get to his station at Fort Charlotte, a fur-trading outpost in Grand Portage, Upper Canada. The fort is only accessible by canoe, and there’s just one man willing to take him on the perilous, thousand-mile journey from Montreal this late in the summer. Young Christian Smith, the son of an Ojibwe mother and absent British father, needs the money to strike out on his own, so he agrees to take Jack deep into the wild.
As they travel endless lakes and rivers, at times having to carry the canoe over land, the arduous expedition takes its toll. Yet the attraction between Jack and Christian, two men from vastly different worlds, grows ever stronger. Locked in a battle against the wilderness and elements, how long can they fight their desire for each other?
This historical short is set, as far as can work out, during the 18th Century. The Canadian setting during that time period is unfamiliar to me and as a result I learned all sorts of things I didn’t know before. It tells of Jack who, after being delayed, arrives from India to Montreal to take up a new position in charge of a trading post, deep into Canada. Unfortunately his delay means that he’s missed the boats which were meant to take him so far into the interior. The only chance he has of getting to his new position before winter cuts off the path is to paddle himself along with a guide, Christian. Jack is unprepared for the hardship of paddling for hours but is determined that he won’t show weakness in front of Christian, all the while battling his attraction for his guide.
This was one of those almost perfect stories for me. Firstly I loved that I got to learn new things about how people traveled through Canada during those times, plus some of the attitudes that people had towards the Native Americans. Jack was another plus point. His time in India has made him tolerant and curious about life, and I liked the way Jack made reference to his time there. The journey is fraught with hardship for him, but I admired his courage and determination. His prickly relationship with the taciturn Christian also worked well for me and I found their interactions filled with emotional undercurrents. There were times that I was so caught up in the struggle between them, that I was moved to tears by the intensity of their interactions.
My only niggle was that the resolution to the story had a ‘well that’s convenient’ moment which marred what had been a very realistic and believable story up to that point. It wasn’t enough to spoil the story too much for me though, and after a quick eye-roll, I quickly got back into the narrative.
This was one of those stories which made the world go away for a while as I was so wholly caught up with the action on the page. The characters were perfect in the way their behaviour reflected on the time period and their pasts; the setting showed the harsh beauty of an untamed Canada; and the ending gave hope whilst still fitting with the setting. I enjoyed the book a great deal and I would recommend it to those who are looking for a Canada set story with a historical theme.