Etienne. “Grand Tour”, Smashwords, 2012.
Cousins in Love
If you follow my reviews, you undoubtedly know that I am a huge Etienne fan and I think that is not only because he is an excellent writer but also because he came to writing late yet has made up for lost time by writing some really good books. (In fact, I have his next two books on order). “Grand Tour” however is a story and not a full length book. It is also about what many call a taboo subject—first cousins who are sexually active with each other. Personally I do not understand why people find a sexual relationship between cousins so objectionable but people in this country have hang-ups about what they consider to be “incest”.
William and Henry Lane are first cousins whose fathers are identical twins and are upper-class Bostonians—those who are known as Boston Brahmins. The boys went to high school at Groton together where they were roommates and then on to Harvard where they were once again roommates and then on to Harvard Law where… (You got it). They have lived their entire lives with each other so falling in love with each other was simply an extension of the way they lived.
Upon graduation from law school, their families offer them each a trip to Europe or what is known by the upper classes as a “Grand Tour” which for many is a rite of passage. They chose to go backpacking around America instead before the time comes for them to prepare to take the Bar. When they are caught in the rain in South Carolina, they are given shelter in a police car that takes them to the station where they are sexually assaulted by the police chief and captain and because of this they realize that they love each other—an emotion that I am sure that each had already felt but was afraid to act upon. Escaping the police station, they make their way to Atlanta where they devise a plan to catch those that attacked and assaulted them and they succeed. It is exposed that the very same men have been doing the very same to campers of both sexes for about fifteen years and there is also murder involved. As horrible as their behavior was, something good came out of it—William and Henry understood their love for each other and came to terms with it.
Etienne has always been wonderful at creating characters but he has outdone himself this time and I actually felt that I not only knew William and Henry but that they were actually part of my life. The same is true for the way Etienne uses description and when you add that to terrific writing and an excellent plot, you get a wonderful story.