A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This was a thing of beauty for me
Former Marine Will Marlowe dreams of being a great classics scholar, but his subversive street art, Bad Toys, is what he does best. When he’s sent to London to retrieve Tommy Jones, what he’s really interested in is a chance to take Bad Toys global. He doesn’t expect cancer survivor Tommy to captivate him or to become the pet project of a real live—dead—author.
Meanwhile, Tommy is struggling to write a dissertation about Christopher Marlowe while conveniently ignoring the fact that he knows Marlowe didn’t die in 1593. And Marlowe’s ghost? He has an agenda all his own that seems to involve two parts mystery, one part romance.
Please bear with me though this background introduction…
I have loved Shakespeare since I first started reading his stories in Russian translation and I will never forget how happy I was when Prospero finally triumphed after his sufferings in The Tempest, the first play by Shakespeare that I ever read. When I came to live in the US, and once I felt that my command of the English language was strong enough to try the originals, I was happy to see that most of the translations were not bad, but also it was hard initially to read them. It got easier in time, but I still prefer to see the plays rather than reading them (I was told that I should not be upset about that, since plays were meant to be heard rather than read). I keep trying though and it did get easier eventually and even enjoyable. Why am I telling you all this? Those of you who are at least somewhat interested in Shakespeare and/or the circumstances and debates around his life should know that this story is connected to one of those debates. Kit Marlowe was a brilliant poet and playwright, who was also Shakespeare’s contemporary and apparently, according to some, was Shakespeare. Now, I apologize for this simple summation. I actually have not read anything written by Kit Marlowe, but I certainly read the books where he was present as a character, and I of course read the discussions about him being Shakespeare. Apparently I was living under the rock, since I only learned about the old debate that Shakespeare was only a name and somebody else was writing the stories several years ago. Honestly, I read up some on it and dismissed it as silliness. I was convinced that Will Shakespeare was Will Shakespeare, that he wrote his masterpieces and I mostly still am, but — and this is where this long intro is related to the review — Marlowe’s Ghost actually put some doubts in my mind for the first time ever. Now, before you say it, I have not read up on this years-long debate in depth, and had I done that I would have known about this story for example, but the thing is I have not and I have to thank Sarah Black for introducing this and several other clever hints to me. Bravo. While I still maintain my belief that that Shakespeare was who he was, as I said, now at least I can entertain some doubts thanks to the interesting research that went into this story.
Now that that is out of the way this story is first and foremost a wonderful romance between Will Marlowe (yes, I know, talking name) and Tommy Jones, and I really loved it. Those of you who are the fans of this writer will not be surprised to find out that Will is another military veteran trying to adjust to peaceful life after the horrors he experienced at war. I loved how while Will initially does not seem to be as damaged as some of her other veterans, it is slowly revealed that he has plenty to cope with and uses defense mechanisms.
One of the reasons I love Sarah Black’s stories so much is because of how much she seems to like smart, intelligent people and how much she makes me admire them. I loved what Will dreams about and the reason he went in the Army originally was to get a good education. It would seem obvious to me that wanting to receive a degree in the Classics is a cool thing, but I would venture a guess and suggest that not too many people think that these days. I also really loved that Will is not like any other of her veterans characters, not even like Lorenzo from Marathon Cowboys, even though Will also expresses himself through art.
I loved Tommy too, so much. I loved how he dealt with his own fears of cancer survival and what his love/obsession with Kit Marlowe transformed into.
If you do not mind thinking and looking up stuff (I perfectly understand, by the way, that not everybody may like thinking when they pick up an escapist read), read this story. While you are enjoying a beautiful love story and the most charming ghost of Kit Marlowe ever, who I thought fit the story perfectly, there is a big chance that you may enjoy this one.