cover image Blue-Eyed Stranger

Blue-Eyed Stranger

Alex Beecroft. Riptide (, $6.99 e-book (230p) ISBN 978-1-62649-212-7

Beecroft’s very English contemporary romance, a standalone linked with Trowchester Blues, is note perfect from start to finish. Martin Deng, a 20-something schoolteacher, is proud to be the only Sudanese Viking in Bretwalda, a battle reenactment troupe. His towering physical presence stands in stark contrast to Billy Wright, a long, lean, and very white Morris dancer. Yet from the moment they meet, the two are certain they’re meant to be together. Martin and Billy have much in common, especially a love of all things historical, but they differ on one very critical point: Billy is openly gay, and Martin is steadfastly closeted, fearing the loss of both his job and his fellow reenactors’ respect. Beecroft’s depictions of Martin’s cognitive dissonance and Billy’s clinical depression are superbly sensitive, infusing every part of how they interact as they strive to resolve their individual and mutual conflicts. These two highly credible, intelligent characters are portrayed with humor and pathos in a narrative awash in English historical references and local color. (Apr.)