I just finished the third book in Alex Beecroft’s Trowchester trilogy so thought I’d review them all at once. The books are modern m/m romance and are linked by the location, the fictional town of Trowchester which becomes very real to the reader over the course of the stories. The main characters of one book reappear as minor players in the others which is satisfying because we get to know that lives continue after each volume ends. Alex creates very three dimensional characters, with real lives, real problems and real adventures. I found myself caring very much what happened to them all.
In the first book, Trowchester Blues, Michael, who has anger management problems, has left the Metropolitan police in difficult circumstances and comes to his father’s house in Trowchester. He meets Finn, a man with a delightful bookshop and a shady past. Finn’s past catches up with him and his rescue needs Michael’s skills. We meet some of the cast of the later books through the book group Finn runs on a Friday evening and through the restaurant run by another member. This is a delightful story of two people from very different backgrounds meeting and making it past their differences to find happiness. The bookshop itself is almost a character and is gorgeous.
Blue Eyed Stranger introduces another member of the book group, Billy, who is a Morris dancer and a musician. He also suffers from severe depression, a condition explored in the story. He meets Martin, a half-Sudanese teacher whose passion is Viking re-enactment, when their acts clash at a fair. Martin has his own problems, not least with his job where the head finds a possibly gay black teacher who tends to diverge from the narrow curriculum difficult to accept, and there are obstacles to be overcome before Martin and Billy can get together. Martin eventually moves to Trowchester where the book ends with strong indications of a happy future for both men. Along the way, the reader learns a lot about Morris dancing, Vikings and early music.
Blue Steel Chain brings us the story of James, an archaeologist who is curator of Trowchester Museum and a member of the book group. He is in the process of a difficult separation from his musician partner when he becomes involved with Aidan, who is trying to escape a seriously abusive relationship. Aidan is asexual; he falls in love with James but would prefer to avoid sex. The story explores this aspect of Aidan and affirms people who fall into this category, showing how they can have satisfactory and loving relationships. It is also perhaps the most exciting book of the trilogy because Aidan’s abuser turns out to be worse than anyone thought and James has to rescue Aidan twice. The first time, he does this with the help of Finn and Michael but the second time he is on his own. However, the gentle archaeologist finds himself victorious.
Altogether, the entwined stories of this group of people give us a rich exploration of a number of characters, problems, and hobbies or careers with realistic adventures to draw and maintain the reader’s interest. Plus an in-depth knowledge of Trowchester and a wish that it wasn’t fictional!
The books are published separately and as a collection by Riptide Publishing.
Recommended – and they are better read as a trilogy! Alex has just been told that Blue Steel Chain is an All Romance Ebook bestseller – but if you haven’t read the first ones, start at the beginning! You won’t regret it!