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The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess…

The Affair of the Porcelain Dog (edition 2011)

by Jess Faraday

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394427,010 (4.09)1
Title:The Affair of the Porcelain Dog
Authors:Jess Faraday
Info:Bold Strokes Books (2011), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday

  1. 00
    The Price of Temptation by M. J. Pearson (GirlMisanthrope)
    GirlMisanthrope: Also a period piece of intrigue with gay characters. Not as well-written, but you'll root for the hero.
  2. 00
    Simple Justice by John Morgan Wilson (GirlMisanthrope)
    GirlMisanthrope: Modern day gay man with troubled past becomes involved in a mystery. Just as well-written.

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The Affair of the Porcelain Dog, Jess Faraday’s auspicious debut novel, is set in London in 1889—Oscar Wilde’s world.

Dr. Cain Goddard is a night lecturer at King’s College, hoping to become a professor. He sponsors and takes part in an athletic group known as the “Fighting Arts Society.” He’s also, secretly, a powerful crime lord known as the Duke of Dorset Street who owns brothels, gambling houses, and opium dens. A blackmailer who suddenly surfaces has evidence hidden in a porcelain dog that could send Goddard, despite his connections to the police and courts, to prison for sodomy.

Ira Adler is the twenty-five-year-old former rent boy Goddard rescued from the streets and took into his magnificent house as his kept boy two years previously.This is the way Goddard explains the situation: “It may be easier to love a poor man than a rich one, but life is much more comfortable with a rich one.” In his former existence as a petty thief as well as a rent boy, Adler became an expert at picking locks. Goddard, having discovered the location of the porcelain dog, sends Adler to steal it. Goddard’s enemy, Andrew St. Andrews, a detective, also wants the dog. A scandal some years ago got both Goddard and St. Andrews expelled from Cambridge.

A reader might expect Goddard and Adler to be entirely cold and calculating. Theirs is a world where ill-gotten money pays for sex. I discovered, to my delight, that they, as well as the other major characters in the novel, are many-layered, complicated human beings. Goddard is obviously in love with Adler. He educates him in order to pass him off as his personal secretary, but he also does it as an act of kindness. Adler isn’t certain that what he feels for Goddard is love, but he genuinely admires the intellectual and physically fit crime lord and returns his affection.

The main conflict arises when Adler, in his frantic attempt to thwart the blackmailer, discovers Goddard’s connection to a criminal activity far darker than prostitution, gambling, and selling opium. Adler questions whether he can remain the lavishly kept boy of the Duke of Dorset Street even if he does love him. But what kind of a life can Adler have if he leaves Goddard?

I greatly enjoyed reading The Affair of the Porcelain Dog. Every sentence made me believe I was in late Victorian London. The writing often took my breath away: “Truth be told, I [Adler] should rather have liked for someone to take a peek at the rash on my bollocks. An itch might have only been an itch in Goddard’s world, but where I came from it was often a harbinger of something worse. I’d not strayed from Goddard’s bed since he took me in. Of course, many a pestilence could sleep for years before thrusting its head through the floor of a perfectly serviceable domestic arrangement.” (It turns out there’s a reason other than a sexually transmitted disease for Adler’s itchy “bollocks.”)

Again: “Nurse Brand didn’t take kindly to interlopers upsetting the apple cart. When Goddard had upset mine, Lazarus’s had tipped clean over, in turn causing the nurse’s own steady cart to throw a wheel.” And again: “But I was not in any shape to ask questions, or even to listen to that quiet voice of better judgment reminding me the worst things happen to whores foolish enough to accompany gentlemen home.”

A most pleasing surprise in Faraday’s epilogue was the icing on the cake for me. The novel is a mystery, LGBTQ fiction, historical fiction—and a great deal more.

(As originally reviewed on Rainbow Book Reviews. Please visit www.rainbowbookreviews.com for other reviews that may be of interest.) ( )
  RonFritsch | Sep 23, 2012 |
Over 4 stars? Oh yes, it's that good. Find yourself immersed in Victorian England. Furthermore, immersed in gay society, traversing the careful efforts gay citizens had to make to have a relationship. In this time period, when class determined where you could go, eat, shop, work, the author does an amazing job describing how clothing, from head to toe, signaled one's standing.

Ira, orphaned at a young age, supports himself by selling his body until he is taken in by one of his regulars. He is ensconced in a beautiful home and given the My Fair Lady treatment by his benefactor. When our story begins, they have been together for 2 years. His benefactor, Cain Goddard, just happens to be a crime lord and renowned for his ferocity with street justice.

Ira is simply enjoying resting in their morning room in his silk robe while reading erotic literature when Goddard asks him to retrieve (read: steal) an object that contains damning evidence currently being used by a blackmailer. Events pull Ira into the seedy world of the opium trade, child trafficking, and into protecting old friends. Mystery, intrigue, adventure, shocking twists, and lovely accessories.

It's a wild ride and you will be able to smell the stench of the Thames, feel the itch of Ira's tweeds, and visualize the gritty East End of London. Very well done and the author's next installment is highly anticipated. ( )
  GirlMisanthrope | Sep 13, 2012 |
I really, really liked this historical adventure/mystery novel, despite all the ugliness it dealt with it managed to be also sweet and romantic, but I cannot avoid to think the author was a little too severe with one of her characters and I hope she will come back to these men and time.

Former whore Ira Adler is now well nestled with crime lord Cain Goddard. Ira knows Cain’s affair are probably against the law, it was the reason why he ended up with him: Cain was one of Ira’s usual customers, and when the young man came to one of their appointment beaten up by a constable, Cain took care of him and of the constable, only that the output was very different. Cain offered to Ira the role of confidential secretary, teaching him the job, sure, but matching it with other special tasks, tasks that Ira is more than willing to complete.

Aside for being a crime lord, Cain is a perfect romance hero, he is always careful of Ira’s well-being, he never questions him, even when Ira’s word is against that of one of Cain’s oldest employee; Cain is the first to speak the word love, and even if he is aware that Ira is not meeting his feelings, he is also willing to wait for the young man to be ready (of course we are speaking of emotion, on a physical level they are already sharing a life like a married couple and probably more, considering the custom of the time); when time is passing, and Ira is not yet ready, instead of being impatient, Cain is willing to again open his heart and gifting Ira with a tangible sign of his love. I think that, if Ira doesn’t want him, I’m ready to fall in love for him myself.

I understand Ira’s integrity, he hasn’t never had one and now that he has found that being honest is giving him an independency he didn’t know, he is not willing to let it go. And to think that all is due to the only mistake that Cain commits, i.e. to ask to his lover, former pickpocketing thief, to retrieve an object from a man that is blackmailing him. A simple task, something that a former whore like Ira could do blinded, but an event that will also cause Ira to go out from Cain’s umbrella, to go back to his old life for the first time in two years. As I said, that is Cain’s only mistake, he had Ira in a golden cage, a wonderful paradise bird who was singing only for him, but he let it go, and now it will be difficult to convince him to come back.

Ira in his way, feels for Cain, but he is not in love with the man. Ira is probably stronger than Cain, and a little harder to fall in love. Actually, the reader will learn that all of Cain’s trouble, past and present, are always due to his tendency of falling in love, and that is a situation when you are weaker. Again you will understand that, even if I really like Ira, my favourite is Cain, and I hope that, in the end, Ira will see that with love, you can change even the most devil of the crime lords, and Cain is far from being the worst.

  elisa.rolle | Jan 6, 2012 |
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added by gsc55 | editBoys in our Books, Ilhem (Jun 24, 2015)
added by gsc55 | editMichael Joseph (Nov 9, 2013)
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