Ashling, Mickie B. “Mayon”, Dreamspinner Press, 2012.
Like a Volcano
John Buchanan is hired as an overseer on a plantation and this is first job since being discharged from the Marines. John did not take the job so much because of the work but because the plantation is near Mount Mayon, an active volcano and this will give him a chance to use his studies about volcanoes into practice. (I did not know that studies about volcanoes are known as vulcanology and neither did the spell check on my computer. John was hired to replace Gregorio Delgado who is none too happy about losing his job but Delgado is drawn to the new man. John, however, is quite discreet and seems to dote on Margarita, the daughter of the plantation owner.
However, as the two men get to know each other they learn that they have a lot in common but John has to respect the plantation and its codes of order even though he feels an attraction for Delgado. He begins introspection so that he can deal with the way he feels and that obsession that the men share but do not speak to him resemble a volcano at rest yet preparing to spew. The key words in this novel are love, desire and respect. John realizes that there may be real consequences if he does learn how to deal with the obsessive feelings that he has for Delgado.
The novel is set in the Philippines during the period right after World War II and at a time when men could not be openly attracted to other men. It seems that many have forgotten that there was a time like this yet it seems so far away when we compare to the freedoms we have now. However there are still many people suffer because they live in places where being gay is a crime that is punishable by death. What we all must remember is that none of us are truly free until all of us are free.
Ashling has the ability to create real characters and here she sets them in a period where they could be who they were. She is able to bring together the themes are adventure and romance with two men discovering their inner feelings. I think that using the symbol of the volcano is particularly good because it is a perfect way to show the men and yet provides tension as we wonder if it will blow. Ashling writes in clear prose and while we may not identify with the characters, we can understand what they have to deal with.