Dreamspinner Press, Sarah Black

“The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari” Is Filled With Danger, Adventure, And Romance



“There comes a time, you have to stop running, stop pretending, and just be the man you were meant to be. It doesn’t matter what it costs, because to not be that man, that’ll cost you your soul. What am I going to do? I’m going to love him until the stars fall out of the sky.” — Sarah Black


Wow. It is hard to know where to start with this. Sarah Black is amazing. She is either one of the best educated authors around or she does a boatload of research. The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari (that will be the last time I type the entire title!) is a sequel to The General and the Horse-Lord. I fell madly in love with these characters. If you haven’t read the first book, you really need to! You will never hear Rick James sing “Super Freak” in the same way afterward. I waited and wished there would be a sequel and I was not disappointed. This book lived up to and surpassed every expectation I had. Sarah Black is in a class by herself.
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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Sarah Black

Marathon Cowboys by Sarah Black

Marathon CowboysMarathon Cowboys by Sarah Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Drama and romance tangle in a wonderful way in Marathon Cowboys, the story of two very different men who meet through little more than chance and who find a common bond in the love of their respective art.

Jesse Clayton is a brilliant artist whose passion for his craft allows him to express himself through the symbols he chooses to represent his vision. Jesse’s theory on art is that it captures reality and preserves it for those who are too preoccupied with their own lives to pay attention to the world around them while it’s turning. Jesse’s art is frequently controversial and he often leaves a wake of anger behind him with the subjects he chooses to address, but for him, it’s the statement and the emotions that make what he does meaningful in spite of the sometimes negative consequences.

Lorenzo Maryboy is an ex-Marine and budding cartoonist who’s traveling to Marathon, TX to stay with Jesse Clayton, The Original—the grandfather of JC3, the artist. Lorenzo’s medium of expression is the Devil Dogs cartoons he draws that depict slices of life in the Marine Corps, cartoons with messages delivered in a non-political way. Lorenzo wants his art to make a statement without being too controversial. He served most of his years in the Corps under DADT, after all, so he’s accustomed to keeping things low key, doing his duty, and not drawing attention to himself.

When the Marathon cowboy from San Francisco and the Navajo ex-Marine connect, it’s a coming together of two different worlds; one man who stands firmly on one side of the fence with his art, living openly and proudly as a gay man; and the other who refuses to come down on either side of that fence with his own work, inexperienced in what it means to openly express his sexuality. The passion between them extends beyond the physical and into the realms of friendship and respect for each other. But when Jesse’s work crosses the line into betrayal, it could destroy the fragile bond of new love between them.

Sarah Black has written a moving story of love, loss, and second chances told through engaging men who learn what it means to trust and what it means to sacrifice that trust for the sake of being true to oneself, even at the risk of losing the one person who has come to matter more than anyone else in the world. It’s a story of life influencing art and art influencing life, and I loved the journey to forgiveness and redemption.

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Dreamspinner Press, Sarah Black

Flamingo by Sarah Black

FlamingoFlamingo by Sarah Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sixty-one year old William has spent a good portion of his life as a near recluse, taking sanctuary in the bookshop he opened in 1971, a mere couple of years after the Stonewall uprising that brought the gay rights movement out of the closet and into the social consciousness.

Having been passed over in the Vietnam draft because of his homosexuality, William’s father strongly urges him to leave their small Ohio town for New York City, where William might find others who are like him. It was the painful denial of father to son that helps to shape William’s isolation and reinforce his fears, but he made the move and eventually found his passion amongst the bricks and mortar and pages of his shop, where he carves out a small living space in the back.

Tommy is the young man who disrupts the quietude of William’s life. Going to school on the GI Bill that barely keeps him financially afloat, Tommy fosters a friendship with the much older William, connecting through the beauty of poetry and the love of the written word. Tommy and William forge an unlikely bond with each other, a friendship and a respect for each other that transcends their differences but for William also underlines them. How could a man forty years his junior—beautiful, intelligent, vibrant—possibly want to be with him? It is a culmination of all his doubts and repression that he has cultivated over the years that keep William from seeing the truth—that love cannot be defined or neatly compartmentalized into right or wrong.

Feeling as obsolete as the ink and paper books he surrounds himself with, William believes his love for Tommy could never be reciprocated; he believes that he is nothing more than a warm and comfortable place for Tommy to land when the young man needs the security and comfort William can offer. But, through the magic of words, Tommy opens up and attempts to show William how he truly feels, though sometimes words are not enough, and it’s the actions that must speak to the heart.

Flamingo is a beautifully understated story, intimate in its feelings rather than in actions. This is one of those stories that embraced me emotionally in a subtle way. Its quiet and simple message—that love is a risk, and that the real danger in life may come from never taking that risk—was shown through two characters I loved spending some time with.

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